Monday, April 5, 2010

Odd and Even Reading

Ask my boy to tell you about the book he just read,
and he may struggle to remember the story.
Ask him which page chapter nine started on, and he
responds instantly. Numbers often matter more to him
than words or meaning.

All parents want to share their views on the important things of life
with their children. And children frequently disagree with
parental priorities-what makes dinner more important
than dessert?

But parents of children with autism sometimes find that the child
doesn’t even notice what the parents consider important. And
what the child finds important may utterly baffle the parent.

Children diagnosed with Aspergers famously become experts
on subjects that interest them, like cars, trains, elevators.
For the vehicle/machine minded child I suggest

The Way Things Work/ Macauley (Houghton Mifflin)
The New Way Things Work/ Macauley (Houghton Mifflin)

These wonderful books may add some science to the child's
preoccupation. There's even a pop-up version

Some parents report guiding their child with Asperger's
to socially acceptable preoccupations like Pokemon or
Nintendo and actually expanding their child's friendship
circle that way.

Others have a child interested in a scholastically
valued topic. Their problem is limiting the number
of books read and the amount of information given.

I confess I have had no luck in trying to guide my
boy's interests. I do not know if that is just because
every child is different or because he has PDD.
I would love to hear from other
parents of children diagnosed with PDD-NOS.

My boy likes rhyming poetry and calendars.
He has what is sometimes called "calendar
ability." Give him a date and he can
give you the day of the week.

This can be very useful for scheduling,
but it's not exactly a school or job skill.

Some people think this makes my son
a savant - a child with autism who
has uncanny Rainman-like
powers. He's not. I do not see any
Vegas trips in his future unless he
deliberately decides to learn card

In fact, my husband insists that our
boy learned calendar ability, and the
facts bear him out. My son studies calendars,
reads them like books, and (again
according to his dad) the way he
knows the day of the week is a
simple mathematical operation.

My boy also tells us sometimes how
many penguins arrived today (how
many days have passed since the
year started). He read
365 Penguins/Fromental (Abrams)
two years ago and it made a lasting

No expert or parent I know suggests
squashing numerical or other preoccupations
unless the preoccupation is totally unacceptable
or leads to unacceptable behavior.

Limiting and guiding preoccupations
may be very helpful and also well
nigh impossible sometimes.

Since I don't recommend giving your child
a pile of old calendars (unless s/he asks
for them), here's a poetry reading idea

The Penny Fiddle/Robert Graves (Doubleday)

This is a book published in 1960
with pleasant simple poems and
illustrations, still rural in subject.
There's even a parish priest on
a horse!

Or, published about the same time, but
reissued by scholastic and with a
more contemporary feel:

A Child's Calendar/Updike

I have tried books about numbers and
math, all have failed to interest my
son. He wants numbers on his own
terms, and I still don't understand
those terms very well.

But if anyone wants me to list those
options, let me know and I'll do so.

I do have abject failures
in book picking. How delightful if
they could become someone else's
bright stars.

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