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We had a rocky start to homeschooling...ADHD, autism, reading, and my worries as a mom.


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I'm trying to plan where to go from here with my son as we head into 1st grade. My son has severe ADHD, Sensory processing disorder, and autism. 

Would you be very concerned about a boy on the cusp of his 6th birthday who is just starting to sound out CVC words? People seem concerned that he's not reading yet. He just in the past month started blending CVC words. I can only get him to focus on reading for 5 minutes at a time because he hates reading so much so it's very slow going. Most first grade level boxed programs I'm ruling out because he'd be behind their LA programs for reading and writing, but he'd also likely be bored by the content or what was being taught. He loves discussing complex stories in detail, he has a huge vocabulary, he does math for "fun", and he likes science and enjoys asking how things work and follows around his grandad, who is a research scientist, and asks for scientific explanations for everything. 

Family and well meaning friends keep asking me why can't he just sit still and why he continually gets frustrated so easily. People tell me he'd be better off in the public school, but we tried that and he was miserable. 

My plan:

Phonics - Explode the Code/BOB books --he's behind but he seems to hate these the least so I figure I'll stick with it and hope it clicks.

Math - Singapore math dimensions 1a/1b - He loves math and enjoys this program so I know I'll keep this. 

Handwriting - HWOT workbook - He hates writing almost as much as phonics. There certainly ARE tears on his end. His hands hurt and he has terrible fine motor skills and is also behind in this area but I take him to OT for fine motor skills and sensory processing help. 

Read a louds - I was just planning on reading him well written books that interest him and practicing narration. I wasn't planning anything formal, does that sound like something ill advised at this age?

Science - Nature study journaling - I'll be adding a "real curriculum" with experiments in second grade.

History - SOTW and activity book - This is by far his favorite thing we have going for him. 

 

Does this sound well rounded enough for a first grader next year who will be 6 in the beginning of June? None of the All In One curriculum choices look appealing to him or me. 

Any tips for teaching a child who struggles to focus? Does it get better with age? We use visual schedules and take breaks often. He dances around and bounces around but is retaining the information. We are just "stuck" with reading and handwriting. All my other homeschooling mom friends have children his age who sit for longer periods of time already and do worksheets. It's hard not to feel like we are fighting an up hill battle. I'm worried about how we seem to spend less time homeschooling than others because if he want's a break we take it rather than fighting over it. Should I be pushing him more, or just let him go at his own pace since he is still young?

Thanks in advance for any feedback. I suppose the ADHD and autism diagnosis make me feel like I am more likely to mess things up for him. 

 

 

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That sounds completely fine to me. And it sounds like you are paying attention to your particular child and figuring out what will work for him, which is exactly what you should be doing. 🙂 

Some kids like worksheets and some don't. Some kids need more breaks than others. That's okay.

I don't think what you've described about his reading skills is outside the range of normal.

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No, I wouldn't be particularly concerned about the reading.  There's a reason some school systems start school at age 7, not younger. I would make sure that his next yearly optometrist's visit was with a developmental optometrist, just in case. And then I'd back off on reading completely for about 6 months. No sense teaching him to hate it!

Are the family and well-meaning friends asking this out of the blue? Or are you saying something about it and then they respond? One of the most important lessons I had to learn was that with most people, if I didn't want suggestions, I couldn't complain to them. I learned that about babies and sleep, but hey, it applies to things in homeschooling too.

So for your plan:

Like I said, I'd put away the phonics for now.

Math sounds fine.

Writing: put it away too. Instead, do lots of *LARGE* motor activity, especially with a lot of things crossing the midline. And tons of scrambling around on rocks, digging in streams, and hanging upside down on playgrounds. You've already got fine motor control covered by physio. Make sure the torso muscles are there, the eye development is there, and the general strength and agility are there. See if your library has a copy of Growing an In-Sync child.

Yes, random read-alouds sounds fine, as does history and science. And all-in-one choices aren't a good fit for every family, no need to worry about not using one! I never have.

It sounds like you're doing fantastically teaching your child. Literally the only problem you have is comparing him to "norms" that are not developmentally recommended. Their kids can do worksheets. Whee. Your kid is learning science. So stop fighting the battle to have him do things he's not ready for, let him be interested in what he's interested in right now, and try the reading/writing again in 6 months.

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To be honest, I think you may be have better success thinking about execution of the material. 

I end being parents' last resort when it comes to kids.  I've gotten ones that don't read at all until age 8, children who can't write until age 10-11, the busy kids, the ones with short attention spans...anything that doesn't fit in a neat box. It doesn't worry me at all that your lessons are short.  Keep them that way, and build slow.

I don't do anything special, but I thought I would throw out what has gotten these kids to where they are now.

1. I don't expect an attention span.  At least, not beyond a few minutes.  I figure if I get 3 minutes of full engagement, that's a heck of a lot better than fighting for half an hour.  So I take 3, and set that as the time limit.  We gradually increase (it took my own kid over a year to go from 5 to 15 minutes, and we stayed at 15 for 2 years or more).  For writing, I started with 3 of the same letter.  Every day, we'd talk through making the letter: "start at the top, down to the ground, a little monkey tail." And then he'd make 1.  We'd critique, he'd make another, and then an 3rd.  Then pick the prettiest and circle.  That was it. We gradually increased to a word, and then writing the word 3 times.  Then a sentence...so slow, so little time each day.  If I was fighting attention span, I wouldn't use Explode the Code.   I'd use magnetic lowercase letters on a cookie sheet or word cards I make.

2. I do expect active engagement with the material.  I bring stencils, sand boxes, tactile tools...anything to increase desire to be involved.  Sometimes, lessons don't look at all like they should.  Like today, my extra littles spent over an hour working with fractions: multiplying, adding, and creating equivalent fractions.  If I handed them the worksheets, they would have groaned and put them off and been scared by all the work.  But rather than 1 worksheet, they did 2, and a complete lesson without one.  When we did SOTW, I gave him the activity, got him started, and told him the story while we did the activity.  No book, no sitting.

3. We do a lot on the floor, and in the morning.  This is a reading lesson from my kid. 2 minutes, and he was done.  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ODIZOFwJVZc  We still end up on the floor or at a low table...he's 11 now, and able to focus much longer, but sometimes, bodies need to sprawl. :)

 

 

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Hi there, and welcome to the WTM forums!  What a great plan you have put together for your son!  I think people often try to jam loads of stuff into the early years and are then surprised when they burn out by Christmas; your approach of focusing on reading, math and letter formation with a couple of fun extras - nature walks and Story of the World in your case - is so smart and will serve you well.

I have two boys and a girl, all seemingly neurotypical, so I can't speak to the specific challenges your son has.  BUT - what you're describing is in many ways a match for my boys!  I want to encourage you that much of what people think is normal for "children" may actually be normal for "girls".  My boys are currently in 2nd and 4th grades but it is still normal for them to bounce around, fidget, and need to move, and they both still hate handwriting!  Homeschooling has been a great fit for us because they can be free to let out some of their energy without disrupting a "class".

When I'm reading aloud, they concentrate best if they can: bounce on a fit ball / draw a picture / build with Lego / walk on my treadmill / hang upside down off the lounge / use modelling clay or play dough / work on a puzzle. They can answer the comprehension questions from the Story of the World activity book and narrate what they've heard.  If I think they're not listening I ask them to tell me what I just read and they almost always can, so although it has been an adjustment for me to talk to people who *appear* not to be paying attention, I'm confident that they are and that the freedom to move is helpful for them.  It also helps to get them outside and active as often as possible before, during and after school!

We used Explode the Code for learning to read, and it was great: five minutes a day, every day (I even did Saturdays!), was enough to see strong progress, and both my boys are now strong readers (daughter is just about to start book 1).  I didn't make them write in the books - their fine motor skills weren't good enough at that age, and since I was right there beside them I could tell if they could read the sentences or not.  Remember the goal is to learn to read, not to complete the worksheets, and adapt to fit your situation.  You're using HWOT to teach penmanship and you don't need to make him write in other subjects unless/until you feel he's ready.  When you hold the pen and write down his words for history, science, etc, you're allowing him to put all his concentration into finding the words he wants to use, and not have to keep stopping to remember how to form a letter or spell a word.  And likewise, when you read him great stories that he will enjoy, you're letting him absorb the rhythm and syntax of complex language with his full attention, without being held back by decoding struggles.

We also use Singapore math, though I have the older US edition, not Dimensions, and it is a great program.  Do you know about the Home Instructor Guides?  I don't know if there's one for Dimensions, but the 3rd/US edition ones are great for helping me explain the concept "the Singapore way" and for providing suggested activities and games to help reinforce concepts.  I don't use them every week but I'm glad to have them when one of the kids seems stuck on a concept and I need more ideas for helping it sink in.

I agree with the other posters that you ARE doing enough.  However, when you're ready to add some writing in addition to penmanship, you might like to look at BraveWriter's Jot it Down (https://store.bravewriter.com/collections/writing-projects/products/jot-it-down) - and indeed poke around on her site to hear some more reassurance that sharing the pen is helpful scaffolding, not a crutch that will stop him learning to do it independently.  We also love Susan Wise Bauer's Writing With Ease (https://welltrainedmind.com/p/the-complete-writer-writing-with-ease-workbook-1/?v=6cc98ba2045f).  It very gently takes the child from copying "Pa owned a pig" to copying a sentence of their own writing over the first year, teaches them to summarise a passage and write from dictation the second year, and transition to independently writing short paragraphs by the end of the third year.  They need to be able to form letters to start, but don't need to be reading independently yet.

All the best as you plan for the coming school year.  Your son is so blessed to have a mama who is doing everything necessary to give him the best possible education.  May there be much joy in the journey for you both ❤️

 

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1 hour ago, __rose__ said:

I'm trying to plan where to go from here with my son as we head into 1st grade. My son has severe ADHD, Sensory processing disorder, and autism. 

Would you be very concerned about a boy on the cusp of his 6th birthday who is just starting to sound out CVC words? 

I absolutely would NOT be concerned about a five year old who was just learning to sound out CVC words. That sounds to me like he is on grade level.  I didn't even start teaching reading to my son until he was seven. 

Sounds to me like you are doing great. 

Susan in TX

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46 minutes ago, HomeAgain said:

I don't expect an attention span.

This is such good advice. Dropping expectations and just meeting him where he is, as he is. 

 

2 hours ago, __rose__ said:

will be 6 in the beginning of June?

You might just red shirt him and be done with it. My ds is gifted IQ, ADHD/ASD, SLDs, etc. and a Nov. b-day. I get why the June thing is hard, but it might just be easier if you did it and were done with it. It's not doing him any favors to both have delays/differences AND have expectations that are advanced. 

2 hours ago, __rose__ said:

Phonics - Explode the Code/BOB books --he's behind but he seems to hate these the least so I figure I'll stick with it and hope it clicks.

Math - Singapore math dimensions 1a/1b - He loves math and enjoys this program so I know I'll keep this. 

So it looks like when there's a visual component he's doing well. Does his phonological processing seem intact? Like can he clap syllables, make rhymes, or tell you what word is formed when you change a letter in a word? As long as his phonological processing is on track, you're ok to plow forward. If you are seeing indications of phonological processing or language processing problems, then that's different.

2 hours ago, __rose__ said:

Read a louds - I was just planning on reading him well written books that interest him and practicing narration.

Super super super good call on this.

https://mindwingconcepts.com/pages/methodology  Here's a developmental chart so you can keep tabs to make sure his narratives (fiction and nonfiction, narrative and expository) are on track. It's a subtle place language issues can creep in with ASD, so it's good to keep tabs on it.

2 hours ago, __rose__ said:

Most first grade level boxed programs I'm ruling out because he'd be behind their LA programs for reading and writing, but he'd also likely be bored by the content or what was being taught.

Yes. Have you looked at Timberdoodle? You might get some fun ideas there. (logic games, kits, etc.)

2 hours ago, __rose__ said:

he likes science and enjoys asking how things work and follows around his grandad, who is a research scientist, and asks for scientific explanations for everything.

Haha, this is great! So don't put your energy so much into science, since others are helping with that. Put your energy into what will make a differece: social skills. Literature to work on social emotional learning and self awareness, history, co-op, anywhere you can plug it in. 

2 hours ago, __rose__ said:

Any tips for teaching a child who struggles to focus? Does it get better with age?

Meds? He's not too young. No they don't outgrow it. The only thing that could possibly bump *his* ability to regulate it is working on his Interoception.

https://www.kelly-mahler.com/what-is-interoception/  Your OT can do it or you can buy the curriculum and do it yourself. HIGHLY recommend. With the improved self awareness from this, he might realize his own strategies.

There can also be contributing factors like retained primitive/neonatal reflexes. If your OT has not tested for retained reflexes, you need to get that done. Absolutely they can improve behavior. My ds was downright FERAL before we got his reflexes integrated. 

You can work through phase 1 of the Interoception curriculum in 8 weeks and it takes 40 days to integrate retained reflexes. So you could do those two things then see where you're at and do meds. It would probably take you at least a month to get into the ped for the appointment to start the med process anyway, so about the time you'd really need to decide, you'd be seeing where he's at. 

Fwiw, in my completely nonprofessional but opinionated opinion, I think SAFETY is a reason to start meds at any age. If you have any thought he is not safe (eloping, whatever), that pushes the ante up. 

There are some theoretical ways to improve attention with supplements (l-tyrosine, for instance), but really you want to have run some genetics on his methylation status or you're just getting into a mess there. 

2 hours ago, __rose__ said:

None of the All In One curriculum choices look appealing to him or me. 

Do you have a behaviorist? Have you talked with them about what is important? With my kids EVERY PROFESSIONAL I've used has said to focus on the MOST IMPORTANT things. Your dc's future will not be decided by his computation skills or science knowledge. It will be driven by his social skills and self regulation. That's it. Win on those and he can do anything. 

I'm not saying tell him he's bad or tell him to pay attention. That's a crock. It's chemistry, retained reflexes, and other things that aren't his fault. But if you work on his interoception and work with him to give him meds and interventions, he'll be able to self advocate.

2 hours ago, __rose__ said:

I'm worried about how we seem to spend less time homeschooling than others because if he want's a break we take it rather than fighting over it.

He asks for breaks and you're worried?? This is GOOD STUFF!!!! This is what you want!!! Any time he self advocates, you honor it. Now it's ok to say hey could we psh another 1 minute and get to a better stopping point? That's fine. But no, language and self advocacy have to mean something. He does not have to do things at the same amount, intensity or work pattern as others. It's basically EXPECTED that he's going to need self regulation breaks. For now, for the rest of his life. So honor who he is and encourage this self advocacy.

2 hours ago, __rose__ said:

Should I be pushing him more, or just let him go at his own pace since he is still young?

What would pushing do? What was his processing speed relative to IQ? If you push one day, what happens the next? And what does being young have to do with it? If you say ok now you're 15, now you slave and can't listen to your body, that's still going to backfire. Every day, for the rest of his life, he has to listen to his body and self advocate. It's part of mental health and what he needs to do to succeed. It's expected with the diagnosis and he MUST do it to be his most productive, best self.

2 hours ago, __rose__ said:

I suppose the ADHD and autism diagnosis make me feel like I am more likely to mess things up for him. 

Not meaning to be too pokey, but for me the hardest thing about homeschooling has always been dealing with my OWN anxiety. So keep yours under control. Say the truth to yourself every day (based on whatever you believe, what experts tell you, etc.): God loves me, Everything will be fine, Even when it feels like it's not fine IT WILL BE FINE. Just keep saying that. 

Seriously, I went to a homeschool convention right after I got my ds' diagnosis (which came after a litany of other stuff) and I was kind of an emotional mess. And that's what (I forget her name, she has a relative here on the boards and writes books about homeschooling) said. IT WILL BE FINE. Even if you think you've messed up, it will be fine. 

And of course anything you can do to take care of yourself will be good. Feel free to come hang on LC. We talk all kinds of things over there and you'd fit right in. It's mostly where I hang, and we're completely off the grid with ds. 

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My autistic daughter was resisting CVC words at the cusp of six, and reading Harry Potter by seven.  When they are ready, they are ready.  I don’t know the age to worry, but six isn’t it. 

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2 hours ago, PeterPan said:

Meds? He's not too young. No they don't outgrow it. The only thing that could possibly bump *his* ability to regulate it is working on his Interoception.

https://www.kelly-mahler.com/what-is-interoception/  Your OT can do it or you can buy the curriculum and do it yourself. HIGHLY recommend. With the improved self awareness from this, he might realize his own strategies.

There can also be contributing factors like retained primitive/neonatal reflexes. If your OT has not tested for retained reflexes, you need to get that done. Absolutely they can improve behavior. My ds was downright FERAL before we got his reflexes integrated. 

You can work through phase 1 of the Interoception curriculum in 8 weeks and it takes 40 days to integrate retained reflexes. So you could do those two things then see where you're at and do meds. It would probably take you at least a month to get into the ped for the appointment to start the med process anyway, so about the time you'd really need to decide, you'd be seeing where he's at. 

Fwiw, in my completely nonprofessional but opinionated opinion, I think SAFETY is a reason to start meds at any age. If you have any thought he is not safe (eloping, whatever), that pushes the ante up. 

There are some theoretical ways to improve attention with supplements (l-tyrosine, for instance), but really you want to have run some genetics on his methylation status or you're just getting into a mess there. 

Do you have a behaviorist? Have you talked with them about what is important? With my kids EVERY PROFESSIONAL I've used has said to focus on the MOST IMPORTANT things. Your dc's future will not be decided by his computation skills or science knowledge. It will be driven by his social skills and self regulation. That's it. Win on those and he can do anything. I'm not saying tell him he's bad or tell him to pay attention. That's a crock. It's chemistry, retained reflexes, and other things that aren't his fault. But if you work on his interoception and work with him to give him meds and
interventions, he'll be able to self advocate.

Wow, you gave me a lot of helpful advice and it sounds like you know what it's like to homeschool a child with autism. Knowing others are doing it is such a relief to me! I'm going to have to hop on over to that forum I think. My son is both medicated, and we are seeing a doctor who monitors his blood levels to get him on a super strict supplement regimen and without those two things he's a wreck. With it, he's much more able to relax and be a part of the family dynamics. He is what I would call a "situational eloper" for the brief time he was in a public preschool he was frequently trying to elope and literally made it more than halfway home before the police found him and he was 3. They found him a block away from the river.  Honestly his eloping and determination to be at home where it was quieter and his fears about school is what broke me and made me feel like he needed to be home, no matter what special needs program they could give him. At home, he's glued to my side and would never dream of leaving (although I still have everything on lockdown just in case he decided to throw us a curveball). I still feel emotional thinking about it. I honestly don't know anything about introception so I will definitely be bringing that up with his OT. A lot of this is probably just my worries because I want him to be happy and feel accepted and that he could do with his life what he wants when he's an adult. He actually has a pretty high IQ and I'm pretty sure he will outpace me at some point before he's done learning and that worries me too. lol

 

3 hours ago, Kiara.I said:

I would make sure that his next yearly optometrist's visit was with a developmental optometrist, just in case. And then I'd back off on reading completely for about 6 months. No sense teaching him to hate it!

Are the family and well-meaning friends asking this out of the blue? Or are you saying something about it and then they respond? 

It sounds like you're doing fantastically teaching your child. Literally the only problem you have is comparing him to "norms" that are not developmentally recommended. Their kids can do worksheets. Whee. Your kid is learning science. So stop fighting the battle to have him do things he's not ready for, let him be interested in what he's interested in right now, and try the reading/writing again in 6 months.

Thanks! You gave me a bunch of helpful advice. I haven't thought to take him to a developmental optometrist specifically, so that's definitely going on my list for the summer. I have 4 sweet sister in laws who are all public school teachers, one of which is a first year special ed teacher. I really do love them, and they are very kind, but I think the idea that I'm trying to home school a child with special needs is scandalous to them. We all live close to one another too, so they tend to try and "fix" my son. I really do think it's out of love and concern but they are so convinced that public school would "fix" him that I've sort of begun to question myself. But my son did public preschool for almost a year and somehow managed to elope and got so far away the police needed to be called when he was three. I have nothing against the public school, but I realized the little guy wasn't feeling safe there. I do compare him a lot to the norms, and that just makes me worry, and I don't want him to pick up on that. I feel like it's hard not to impose these random rules on him about what he "should" be doing and I question if it'd be down right negligent of me to just let him fly ahead where he can and take longer where he needs to and let grade level entirely melt away.  

 

Thank you so much to each of you who have responded with helpful feedback, advice, and encouragement. I feel like I can breathe a little easier after these responses.  I psyched myself out thinking of ALL that lies ahead and my anxieties got the best of me. I feel like I need "permission" to let him be his wonderful, neurodivergent self. Sometimes it feels lonely when "everyone else" seems to be moving along with their kids in a group and he and I are on our own different path. Sometimes the words of strangers do seem to be more encouraging than the words of people I've known for years. 

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43 minutes ago, __rose__ said:

public school teachers

The ps people took it very personally when we first went in for an IEP for ds. They took it as commentary on them, their system, their work that I wasn't simply enrolling him. 

45 minutes ago, __rose__ said:

public school would "fix" him that I've sort of begun to question myself.

So let's be realistic. He would have a team, and there's a lot that brings. Just because I'm homeschooling him doesn't mean I'm ALONE schooling him. With our state disability scholarship system, I can make quite a bit of services happen. So I have a team and they would have been a team. You may find you're stronger with a team approach. You're going to have holes they catch and vice versa. No one person knows everything.

As far as fixing, well school is high structure and predictable, which tends to make school eventually go tolerably well. Life is not high structure and not as predictable, so school is sometimes poor preparation for life. You're probably going to nail life, and that may be the More Important thing in the end.

48 minutes ago, __rose__ said:

Sometimes it feels lonely when "everyone else" seems to be moving along with their kids in a group and he and I are on our own different path.

Are there homeschool groups you could participate in? Unschoolers and secular groups will tend to be welcoming and live/let live. 

 

50 minutes ago, __rose__ said:

I feel like I need "permission" to let him be his wonderful, neurodivergent self.

That's an interesting thought. You mean the abrupt, monotone, matter of fact, say anything neurodivergent self? Or the funny version of himself? The stimming version of himself? I have a high tolerance for things, but I've met people who think stimming should be stopped, etc. I don't think anything autism has to go away, but I do like the idea of interoception driving self/other awareness which leads to better behavior and interactions. Like being your best self that you realize you can be vs. the robot/compliant self who worries whether he's the way people want him to be. But I don't think we have to accepted rudeness, etc. etc. My ds has things that come with his autism that I'd like to see him modify himself as he grows. The growing, self aware, others aware version of himself.

54 minutes ago, __rose__ said:

I feel like I can breathe a little easier after these responses. 

One of the best things you're giving him is time with you. My ds EATS UP high quality interaction. It's what helps them come out of the "aut" and isolation of autism and into relating with others, and just the fact that you're giving him so much 1:1 is going to be high value. Now I can't do that all by myself, lol. I have people help me (SLP hours, dh, SIL, etc.) but the amount of attention and interaction ds gets shows.

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Posted (edited)

You will feel lonely.  Other parents will be dropping their kids off places and going to have coffee with friends.  You will be sitting within earshot praying nothing will go wrong.  You will second guess yourself and everyone will tell you they know better.  Get used to it.  I am sorry but it doesn't get much better.  But it is worth it and you will make progress.  You will appreciate the small triumphs that mean nothing to others. By keeping him home you can allow him to achieve in his strong areas while working on his weaknesses.  At school they will usually not let them have a good fit academically until the can behave the way the school wants.  And being unchallenged makes it even harder for them to behave they say the school wants.  And forcing themselves to behave NT doesn't help them become healthy adults anyway - just to fake things.

Edited by kiwik
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On 4/28/2021 at 11:40 PM, PeterPan said:

One of the best things you're giving him is time with you. My ds EATS UP high quality interaction. It's what helps them come out of the "aut" and isolation of autism and into relating with others, and just the fact that you're giving him so much 1:1 is going to be high value. Now I can't do that all by myself, lol. I have people help me (SLP hours, dh, SIL, etc.) but the amount of attention and interaction ds gets shows.

I agree. 

I will echo that your plan sounds solid, and that if you spot any issues with narration, you should delve into some of the products from Mindwing Concepts--they were life-changing for my son with ASD/ADHD. Some kind of language issue generally crops up with kids on the spectrum (sometimes not until much later), and they have materials that show how many facets of language come together. If their products aren't hitting the need, they will still help narrow down what's going on, and you can find an ASD-literate SLP to pinpoint what you need. 

My son had convergence insufficiency that was mild enough he could limp along and learn to read, but it caused him problems when he would get tired. As print got smaller and white space more scarce in his books, he was no longer able to compensate, and he needed a short course of vision therapy. So yes, a developmental optometrist is a good place to go--it's just one of those things that often comes up when a child needs OT or PT. A good vision therapist will do a lot of bodywork. 

For handwriting, I've been told (and it seems to hold true) that letter formation will translate from large to small scale, so if you want to have him write large on a white board or easel pad, when he's ready to write smaller, the formation will still be solid--this held true with my kids. There are also apps for tracing letters, etc. My non-ASD kiddo had major issues learning to write, and I met him where he was, breaking down letter formation into tiny bits and integrating his handwriting into phonics. If it makes you feel better about your son, mine took 18 months to learn how to consistently form the number 8 correctly, lol! Part of it was visual--if he closed his eyes, he could make a perfect 8. If he opened his eyes, he made a kidney bean, every time. We used number cards and c-rods for a lot of math to work around the handwriting. He had visual development problems, retained reflexes, and hypermobile hands with extra-long fingers (he has a connective tissue disorder). It's not mentioned much in the literature for his disorder, but when we went to a conference, nearly every parent of a child still in school was asking about handwriting and general coordination for things like cutting food. So much so that I am stunned it's not in the literature. Anyway, he types a lot at age 13, and we keep handwriting as a side thing like art--he can functionally do it, and we practice enough that he won't forget how to format letters, but he types increasingly often. I also scribe for him sometimes, though that's not as necessary as it used to be. 

Another resource to keep in mind is Rooted in Language. They have a FB community, parent training, and some products you can use at home. They are an SLP practice that caters to homeschoolers. I think of their products as being more for dyslexic kiddos, but you might see if their stuff appeals to you or seems like a good fit. They started publishing their own reading program, but before they did, they promoted other solid options that existed already, so you don't have to feel like you have to use all their stuff if you find some things helpful and are happy with what you're already using. 

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I think you got a lot of great responses. I don't have anything to add but I just wanted to send you a note of encouragement. I know you are new to this board, but there is a super helpful Learning Challenges Board. There are amazing parents on there with loads of expereince and so supportive. Hang in there, you are far and away the one person in his life who cares the most about meeting him where he is at and his needs. I want to say awesome job! for caring enough to want to do better for him.

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I think your plan is fine.  Not yet reading at 5 is normal.

HWOT sounds like a perfect choice for you.  I had a kid with similar handwriting resistance and delayed fine motor skill.  We spend a lot of time with HWOT-sized chalk boards (wet,dry,try) using tiny pieces of chalk (to strengthen pincer grip).  Also lots of other fine motor skills activities (snipping strips of paper with scissors, sorting pompoms with forceps, pinching plasticine etc).

You don't have to buy all the HWOT branded stuff.  Most of it can be done cheaply DIY.  Dollar-store chalk boards, or MDF with chalkboard paint.  I used car detailing pinstriping stick-on tape to make the lines for lower case work.  Break your own chalk, cut up sponges into small pieces, cut letter pieces out of cardboard etc.

HWOT method is a lot more than workbooks.  You might benefit from the instructor's guide, if you don't have it already  - there is a lot of information on non-workbook activities.

Let you OT know that you're using HWOT.  It was developed by an OT.  Your OT might be able to help you tweak it to to help your child get the most out of the program.

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