Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Day 30: iSimon

It was another snowy day here, so I'm grateful that KKI doesn't seem to close for anything short of a blizzard. While Olivia and I lounged about a little in our PJ's (what else is a snow day good for?), Brian and Simon braved the weather to get to "school" early this morning.

At KKI today, they were working on pre-writing skills, and (once again, for the first time ever) Simon did well with it. Now that we understand a little better how Simon "ticks," we are able to utilize that information to introduce concepts to Simon in a way that not only makes sense to him, but that enables him to maintain his attention span and participate more fully in the activity.

First, the Therapists used a gross motor exercise with sticks held in each hand to help Simon coordinate the necessary movements (today they worked on up and down strokes). Then, they incorporated one of the iPad apps that teaches kids to trace letters with their fingers.

[ On a side note, the iPad has definitely been a hit thus far, both with Simon and with his therapists (not to mention the fact that Olivia loves to sneak off with it for spells, and I've seen Brian spending more than a few minutes playing with it after-hours). ]

The app "iWriteWords" is one of several I've found targeted towards early education and/or special needs. It is really cute, and the Therapist said that she thought it was great from both a fine motor and a pre-literacy perspective. Simon is certainly a lot more motivated to trace letters on screen than with a crayon on paper. I think it is both easier for him to do, and with the accompanying music and graphics it is stimulating enough to keep his attention focused on the task at hand.

How freaking cool is that?

Really, it isn't so different from when Olivia was 2 and I was looking for schools for her. She was way ahead of her peers developmentally, and it wasn't until I observed a Montessori program in action that I felt I'd found an early education philosophy suited to her "special" needs. For Olivia, Montessori fit like a glove, and the school she attended felt like a second home to her. It was hard for me to accept, when it was time for Simon to go to school, that he wouldn't be able to go there. I so wanted him to have the same wonderful experience his sister had, and it broke my heart to deny him that. Fully accepting that he needed special education was a very difficult pill to swallow at first.

But swallow it we did, and I am glad. He's currently in a lovely program with warm and supportive teachers and therapists that clearly love what they do and the children that they do it for. Despite the diverse challenges of the students in his little classroom, the overarching feeling is one of love and acceptance (even for their harried parents).

What I am realizing now, is that in addition to the special education he is getting at his "home school," Simon needs more, specialized therapies and/or education on an ongoing basis to help him reach his potential. Where we go from here, I am not sure yet, but if the events of the past month have been any indication, I do know that it is a positive step in the right direction.

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