Saturday, September 13, 2008

Child with Autism Gaining Independence

My nonverbal son Matthew just finished his first full week of sixth grade at a Middle School. The prior week school officially started on Wednesday. The bus is here most mornings before 7 AM and gets him home before 4 PM. With Matthew it is not possible to try on clothes without actually wearing them that day. Since he has to now wear a uniform I was concerned with how he would tolerate wearing white polo shirts that are tight at the cuff on the arm and the buttons on the neck with the color. He has only worn a full button-down shirt once and that was on graduation day at Elementary School this past June. That outfit he wore was the same one Nicholas wore the year before at his Elementary School graduation. That outfit is ready to retire from the closet altogether.

Over the summer I had purchased three white shirts at Jiffy Shirts with great results as they arrived the following day. I also bought three shirts at to have different options of shirts for Matthew. One was tagless and the other brand I cut out the tags.

The night before school as I had prepared clothes for the first day I decided to try a shirt on Matthew. He was pulling at the collar and not wanting me to do the bottom button. I had two navy blue shorts ready for the next morning. He has been wearing pants and shorts that have the string attached, which is his stim most often to play with the strings.

On the first day of school the shirt was successful but the shorts were another story. He was pulling them all the way up, reminding me of an old Jerry Lewis comedy movie. The two shorts were not working so I went into the laundry basket for the last pair of blue shorts, spritzed some Air Therapy Orange Spray on them to get a fresh smell and they seemed to work.

I have had a pair of his string shorts and loose tshirt on the bed waiting for him when he gets home. When Matthew and his assistant get off the bus I let Mattthew inside so I can hear about the schoolday from the aide. He is usually carrying Matthew's backpack and lunchbag. Sometimes Matthew comes back to the front door to get these bags and bring into the kitchen. A few times Matthew has only had on his shorts and the rest another shirt. His aide was even impressed with how fast Matthew was able to change his clothes.

This is a new skill for Matthew since in the morning he needs a diaper change and gets dressed with assistance from me. Two times my son Nicholas has had to help him get the shirt on. The pants and shirt have been on the correct way as well.

I come into the house to see Matthew getting a bowl out of the cabinet and putting pretzels into it. When he was at Elementary School I picked him up at his classroom everyday and had a baggie of Gluten Free Pretzels for him to eat on the way to the car and during the drive home. The first year I was bringing a video for Matthew to hold on the way home.

Matthew is able to take off chip clips but cannot put them back on. He will hand me the package and the clip to do it. He now likes Muenster cheese and will remove the baggie from the refrigerator when he gets home and let me know it needs to be opened.

He will also go into his backpack and retrieve his homework, proceeding to get a crayon and scribble a mess on the page before I can even try to hold his hand and help guide him.

I have even noticed Matthew now taking off his socks when there is either a hole in them or he has stepped in the water bowl for the cat. I just need to get him to toss them in garbage or laundry basket instead of the sock drawer. He will try on a few pairs until he finds one that fits.

I think the next step will be to show him how to empty his lunchbag and put ice bars back in freezer and remove the Rubber Maid Juice Box Containers so they can be rinsed out.

The feedback from the assistant and the communication checklist from the teacher is that Matthew is running 4-7 laps in Adaptive PE and enjoying Horticulture. You can tell that by looking at his hands and sneakers when he gets home. He really likes pulling weeds. These are the two classes that his MRS (Mental Retardation Severe) class is included with general education.

Here is an article I wrote on the issues we are having with LAUSD.


Frogs' mom said...

Wow! It sounds like Matthew is making some great strides - and best of all, that he has a real interest in broadening his independence. Good for you Matthew! Good for you too Mom :0)

Anonymous said...

Way to go, Matthew!! And Mom, my boys FINALLY potty trained at age 8 and they have MR and autism, too. Your Matthew is doing awesome. My boys weren't doing all that at his age! Way to go! My boys can dress themselves fairly well now, but I have to pick out the clothes. They are not able to figure out what they need completely by themselves yet. But we're getting there! Great article! Loved it.

hellokittiemama said...

Alex LOVES the glutino pretzels over those wyld ones. It sounds to me like Matthew is making a lot of really big gains very quickly.

Does he like riding the school bus?

AARI Editorial Team said...

Yea, Matthew! It is so awesome to hear positive news about kids who have autism. I'm looking forward to reading more stories about Matthews's adventures in independence:)

Anonymous said...

Bonnie, that's great news about Matthew! Glad to hear it! Gaining independence does so much for self-esteem. Take care.

Elizabeth Channel said...

I am so impressed with how organized and structured you are. Matthew sounds like he is truly moving forward, and I love hearing about his achievements!

danette said...

Wow, great progress! Way to go, Matthew!

Anonymous said...

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Raju said...

Thanks for the nice post.

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