Thursday, April 23, 2015

English as a Second Language

Ever since Liam was little, he's loved English as a second language sites.  The simplicity and repetition helped him to learn colors, shapes and letters well before preschool.  He even went the other way and learned the alphabet and number systems of several other languages and some simple words.  Here Liam uses his "Oobie" puppet to recite the Greek alphabet:

We were reviewing the online program that Liam likes, BrainPop, to see about buying a subscription to the next level, when we noticed that they had an English as a Second Language (ESL) program.

Like the other BrainPop programs, this one stars the robot, Moby and his new friend, Ben.  There are short movies with optional subtitles which play out scenarios in which the characters use different parts of speech naturally in a conversation.  After each movie, Liam can practice the new parts of speech and take a quiz and even play related games.  

He loves it (especially Moby, who only speaks in "beeps") and I've found him going to the site on his own to play games. He even seems to be grasping pronouns better since we started playing on the site.  The good thing is how easy it is to revisit each lesson.  With every viewing, Liam takes in more and more.  

I'm not sure if speech teachers working with Autistic kids have used this strategy, but it's really making sense to Liam.  I'm just glad we've found a fun way to fill in some of the gaps and help Liam expand his ability to take in and express bigger ideas.  

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Major Leaps

Last week, my husband performed in and helped do sound design for a very good, short student film for a family friend.  We kept a copy and John showed it to Liam.  The assignment had been to tell a story with little dialogue.  The resulting dark comedy had some great sight gags and was scored in part with the song "Shaboom,"  both of which Liam adored.

After watching the film, he said, "I can make a movie too."

We've seen how much he loves visual effects, animation and shooting movies, but this was the first time he'd ever articulated it for himself.

This revelation follows close on the heels of smaller declarations of independence, like telling me, "no, I'm still playing on my computer" when asked if he wanted to join me at the store, and insisting that he be notified any time we plan on doing laundry because it is "my turn to do it."

In a few weeks, he'll be turning 9.  Last year, when I asked him who he wanted to come to his birthday party, he had no strong ideas.  This year, when I asked, he said, "EVERYBODY!"

So cool to see him growing in self-awareness.  Now that he wants to let everybody in, I think I'm going to need a bigger birthday cake.

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

How's It Going?

Well - it's been almost 6 months since we started the homeschool experience.  When people ask how it's going, I'd love to show them this picture:
Liam is happy and growing (clearly, in more ways than one).  In this Easter picture, taken at our neighbor's house, he's wearing an outfit he picked out - bright yellow pants and a purple sweatshirt and the ever-present Oobie eyes. 

The cast of Oobie - a wonderful preschool show of bare-handed puppets!
Liam is doing GREAT with his ST Math progam (now over 80% complete for the year) 
JiJi the penguin's progress postcard showing 80% completeion of the ST Math program from UC Davis

He's been voluntarily choosing reading lessons during our forays onto Brainpop Jr. where we've been using old, favorite short stories like "Frog and Toad" to practice book reports, inference and prediciton.

The lessons on magnatism have turned into a fun game of "I'm a magnet and you're iron!" where we take turns chasing each other around the house and sticking to each other.

In his free time, Liam has been exploring "Scratch" and redesigning characters in other people's videos and games.

He also loves to take videos and then add crazy video effects.

On the home-front, he absolutely insists on doing the laundry (sans folding) and helping with the dishwasher and microwave. What started out as a fascination with the digital displays on the appliances has turned into what seems to be an enjoyable job.  He likes to show off his independence - and has become very clear about claiming his personal space.  All of us laugh when he pushes me or his dad out of his room saying "leave me alone!"  

The neighbor kids have been coming over in the afternoons and on the weekends to ask Liam out to ride scooters on our dead-end street and he enjoys racing out to join them.  And we've continued to go back to his old school two afternoons a week to take advantage of after-school programs in art and computer coding for video games (they use Hour of Code -  His old classmates always greet him warmly and he smiles back.  It's clear he enjoys time around the other kids and an hour or two is about all he needs before wanting to go back home.  

So, in the past 6 months, I've watched Liam grow as a happy, confident kid.  That's how it's going.