It’s easy to concentrate on the concrete items in the IEP, when we’re dealing with the Monster and school. Concrete goals have easily measured results – is he learning to use the potty? Is he handing basic pre-literacy skills?
Soft skills are harder to concentrate on and evaluate, which only makes it harder that we’re honestly more worried about those soft skills.
I mean, we’re not worried about a lot of the concrete goals, or the ones not in his IEP but are part of the pre-K curriculum at the school he’s at. The Monster knows his numbers and letters, and he’s starting to show very good progress in reading basic words when presented to him. Whether he understands the concepts behind those words, we don’t know, but he’s doing fine on those skills… and was doing fine prior to school starting. He’s always been very strong in the academics.
What worries us most still is his social abilities. He likes animals, and he has always done ‘okay’ with adults and babies. But it’s kids his own age that he’s not shown much aptitude towards dealing with, and it’s those kids that he’s going to have to learn to deal with.
It’s not that he doesn’t like other kids, but rather that he’s just not initiating contact and interactions with them. He’s actually fine playing with slightly older kids, as long as they initiate. We’ve had a few times where children who’ve wanted to play with him have gotten upset that he’s not playing back, and have had to try to find ways to explain to them that it’s nothing they’re doing, but that Ethan’s just ‘different’. (Try explaining autism to a four-year-old.)
Of course, since we’re not at the school, we don’t see what happens in his program, where there are a number of normal four-year-olds mixed in with the children on the spectrum in a reverse-inclusion model. The teachers don’t necessarily report back to us sufficiently frequently – his special educator does email us nearly every day, and the speech therapist has been better about letting us know what’s going on – so we’re somewhat operating in the dark.
However, there was this in the latest email (after the part about the toiletting):
He also sometimes say “Hi” with eye contact to other boys in the bathroom from other classes without prompts and even asked for a glue when he needs it for our cutting and pasting activity. Skills are not yet consistent, but I’m excited to let you know that it’s emerging and we’re going in the right direction. We will continue to work on consistency and generalization of the skills.
It’s just nice to hear. We’ll have to take him out somewhere over the weekend to see if he does, indeed, try to initiate on his own…