Thursday, January 22, 2015

Step 1, cut a hole in a box...

Ryan has a favorite box. It's a huge cardboard wardrobe box that has been taking up real estate in my living room for months.
He's been known to sit in this box for an hour at a time - he will climb into the box with a flashlight or lantern and an assortment of toys, instruct me to close the top and cover it with a blanket, and he's all set for the afternoon. Occasionally he'll request a sandwich or juice be delivered to the box; I have to remember to drape the blanket over the top of the box again before I leave him to, well, whatever it is he does in there.

Four days ago, Ryan sequestered all his bedtime friends - a variety of plush bears and moose and his beloved White Blanket - in the box. He insisted they were to spend the night in the box. Ok, we thought, maybe he's working through the idea of growing up and he wants to test himself to see if he can sleep without his bed full of stuffed animals.

The next day, he added most of his favorite toys to the box. Small items, like his robot letters, were poked in through an oval handle cut-out, and larger things, like his dinosaurs, got dropped in from the top.

Yesterday, Ryan added a seemingly random collection of things to the party in the box; I was able to convince him not to put my phone in there, and after 18 hours I convinced him to free my boxing hand wrap.

Before school this morning, he pulled the two largest stuffed animals from the box and placed them on the stairs.

I've asked Ryan what's up with the box, but I don't understand his non-answers. I want to assign this activity meaning, but he might just be working on filling the box.

Friday, January 16, 2015

A Boy Who Can (Not) Talk

At the first rehearsal for the Adaptive Dance program's spring variety show, Miss Debbie wanted to get an idea of how well the kids can sing.

Spoiler: they suck.

There's a special circle of Hell in which thousands of young children belt the Frozen soundtrack in an endless loop. I have caught a glimpse of this dismal place, and I have been inspired to try to lead a better life from now on.
My reaction watching this train wreck.
So, the kids are wailing along with Let It Go, having a glorious time. "John," a nonverbal 21-year-old young man with Down syndrome, is singing in a sort of open-mouth hum, his tune as recognizable as anything the other kids are generating. Ryan, rather than singing (although he certainly knows this song), is visually stimming on the other kids, looking from one child to the next in a side-eyed squint. He zooms in close on John's face. "That boy can not talk."

When Ryan has made this observation about John before, we have discussed that different people communicate in all sorts of ways, and that just because an individual doesn't use words it doesn't mean he doesn't have something to say. This time I chose to acknowledge that his observation was correct and then let it go, let it go.

What struck me this time was what Ryan's words reveal about how he thinks of himself. Ryan clearly identifies himself as "a boy who can talk," as opposed to John, "a boy who can not talk." Speech is like a light switch: on or off. On/off, Ryan can talk/John can not.

Other kids, though, would probably identify Ryan as "a boy who can not talk" - his command of grammar is awkward at best; his speech sounds more like what you'd expect from a three-year-old than from a fourth grader; and his conversation skills are rudimentary and unpredictable. On/off, we can all talk/Ryan can not talk.

Ryan's speech is on a dimmer switch, but I don't think he's aware of that subtlety.

Hell, I don't think any of these kids grasp the idea of subtlety. My ears will be bleeding for weeks...