Thursday, 22 October 2009

Life Skills

So what are life skills? A question I asked when I was first told Amy would be doing just that. A little doubtful at first, until I actually realised how valuable they would be in her learning. Of course we all have to learn about life in one way or another, but for some it is so much more difficult. I speak only for Amy when I say her autism prevents her from having a full understanding of real life. I know this is the case for most people on the autism spectrum, but each case is different; some are more severe than others, and some may never learn about real life due to the severity of their condition. It has never been officially said, but I would agree that Amy could be high functioning; she has a large vocabulary, excels in certain subjects like maths and English, has good eye contact. She is doing well academically, but her social skills are not so great; if she wasn't as big as she is, she could be mistaken for a child of aged 6 or 7. But we're working on it.

There are certain subjects in which Amy finds difficult to digest information, her concentration levels will prevent her from understanding. However much she tries. The slightest disturbance will attract her attention and she will be unable to return to the job in hand. Reasons why she has a support worker. I have said it so many times, probably to everyone I know, that the support is helping Amy tremendously and without it, she most certainly would not be doing as well in school as she is currently doing. The subjects in which Amy finds most difficult will be cut from her curriculum, this may only be for an hour a week, it could be for two. Of course these won't be primary subjects such as maths and English. In their place Amy will do various activities which will enable her to become more accustomed with every day life such as going to the shops and dealing with money, walking in a town and looking for pedestrian crossings, basic food preparation, making phone calls, experiencing age appropriate activities in which she finds difficult. Amy tells me and everyone that we must not talk to strangers, yet she talks to everyone she meets. She asks them how old they are, what their name is, where they live, do they have brothers or sisters. She cares not about who they are. She just assumes she is being friendly.

She can find her way around the Internet, switches the computer on and starts to type a letter on Word, prints out pictures of interest to her; her current interests being desserts and pyramids. I have an office full of loose sheets of A4 with a picture of a cactus or a pyramid. "Look what I printed off," she says, excitedly. "How many times have I told you to ask me first?" I say, for the hundredth time, before agreeing that her picture is very good so as not to disappoint her mood. But it makes no difference. She just does it anyway. Just like so many things on a daily basis. She has a mind of her own. I wish I could get inside it one day.

21 comments:

  1. a very creative mind too, isn't it? that's an outstanding school you've got amy in. and these life skills are the best things to be teaching. my niece will forever be 13 due to an oxygen deficiency during birth, and schools here weren't quite as equipped to handle these needs as it seems to be the case there. well, at least, at the time she was going to school. maybe things have changed now. i hope so, certainly.

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  2. Wow, that sounds like a great school and Amy sounds delightful.

    Word Verfication is pansts: I think that's a bit rude.

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  3. smiles. these will be great for her. one of the boys i work with, i just taught him how to shave the other day...may seem unremarkable, but the twinkle in his eye when he was doing it was all worth it.

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  4. The education of my daughter, Rachel, has been an emotional roller coaster. Every time they would move her into a new program, I would be reminded that she wasn't like others. This was much harder to accept when she was younger.

    Rachel transitioned into a life skills program several years ago and it was the best thing that could have happened for her. Although she is much lower functioning than your daughter, she's been able to learn things that she could not have learned at home. I'm sure Amy will blossom with such tutelage.

    I'm sending you a big hug because I know how hard these changes can be.

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  5. I can't begin to understand the day to day challenges that Autism presents for you and Amy and of course the farmer. I studied it and other syndromes as part of my psychology degree but an intellectual understanding provides little insight to the realisties of a developing child. Each mother is an expert on their own child and you surely have so much more knowledge than many. Thankfully you also have additional help - I hope it continues to be there for you and to help Amy with the many challenges she has ahead of her.

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  6. Life skills are so important and dare i say possibly even more so for the higher fuctioning as they will lead more independant lives and so will need these vital skills.
    Even though im sure all kids could benefit from them!

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  7. Amy seems to be doing rather well, doesn't she?

    "She has a mind of her own. I wish I could get inside it one day." This is what all parents think about all of their children!

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  8. I'm just going to echo Robert....all parents wish they could do that, lol.

    It sounds like Amy is in the best possible hands. I'm excited for her, CJ. x

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  9. The life skills sound like a great thing.
    Amy printing off things after she's been told not to? She's sounding pretty normal, and her computer skills sound great!

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  10. Oh I can relate to some of what you are saying Crystal, even without the special challenges you and Amy face. So glad she is doing well and has the right support. xx

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  11. Hi Crystal - Thanks for stopping by with your pellet gun!

    I meant to tell you sometime, I have a good friend at church whose son is autistic, among other things. He's 15 now I think. He's a big guy in body, but in his mind there are still things about him that are very naive and will remain so. Like your daughter, things that he may never understand and things that upset him and such. He's very smart about some subjects, one of the most intuitive about people and what makes them tick. I enjoy him immensely - he's funny and I get a kick out of being around him. I've seen his mom (and dad) really struggle with their young man especially when he was much younger. He, too, is learning life skills, and this seems to be the best thing for him. I think you've got Amy in a good program.

    I have much feeling for you and your little princess and I can understand only a bit of what you and my friend must go through on a daily basis. Such challenges and struggles. Just wanted to say I applaud you both - we do every single tiny little bitty thing for our children to help them have a better life. It's what mothers (and dads) do!

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  12. She has so many strengths, like her creativity and how curious she is about her environment and her sense of humor. She has made such progress, since you started this blog and my guess is that it is only going to continue. Amy will grow and blossom, just like she has been doing. The school will be a wonderful, safe place for her to help her along. Life skills in our school can range from drinking from a cup, eating with a spoon, right on up to being in the community and knowing how to order her own food, knowing the concept of change/money. I have to do these adaptive behavior scales with parents and the life skills start really basic and go right on up. I could send you a copy if you would like. I'd say she is pretty advanced in so many areas.
    Bottom line, it is so hard being a mom, and not knowing what the future holds. For me that has been the hardest part, the wait and see, and to that, only Amy holds the key. However, with all the enrichment you give her and the school, I'd say the future looks very, very bright. Never let the school know that YOU know her best!
    XOXOXXO

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  13. Another wonderful post, CJ! I love reading your blog, I really do. I think Amy will flourish and do well in life, especially considering that beautifully creative mind of hers, but something like basic life skills will be invaluable to her in the future and surely something she will learn to do in time.

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  14. Thank you for your comments, guys.

    CJ xx

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  15. Your daughter sounds like she has so many strengths. It also sounds like she is in a truly wonderful school.
    Hugs to you as you continue your exciting journey.

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  16. This sounds brilliant! It's always so amazing hearing about Amy's progress, and what an amazing mum you are, too!

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  17. My SIL works with young autistic people. She was running a train the trainer course and she had a few of the young people attend the session. She was mortified when one of them announced that she was trying to teach them to lie.....she had to explain that what she was doing was trying to explain that when someone asks if their bum looks big the best answer to give was no....whether the bum was big or not!!

    C x

    C x

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  18. S is always printing stuff of the internet!! We too have lots of printed pages scattered around the house!
    I love the idea of life skills, what a great idea xx

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  19. Amy sounds like a normal child. The school must be doing a very good job.

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  20. Cheshire Wife - They do seem to be on the ball, and in the short space of time she has been there it does appear an excellent environment for her to be in. We are lucky however, we have fantastic support too.

    Thank you for your comments, CJ xx

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