Colin does many things well, but one thing he really, really struggles with is reading comprehension. This is . . . I don’t even have a word . . . let’s just say beyond difficult for me to understand. I started reading at age three or so and never looked back. Zoom. In kindergarten they had to keep telling me to slow down. I thought what they were trying to make me do was ridiculous. “Go the door. Look at the moon.” Puleeeze. I’m bored. I’ve been told that my parents were given the option of moving me ahead, but at that time I would have had to go to an older classroom, and since I had issues with social confidence, they weren’t sure that was something I would like. In the end, they were probably right.
Colin started sounding out words very young and I was sure that I had an apple off the ol’ tree. Colin can sound anything out, but he doesn’t understand what he is reading. They are just words parading by on the page. He can read it over and over and over and still not understand what he’s read. Although he’s very high functioning, one of the traits of autism we see very plainly is a lack of imagination. He’s never liked costumes. He didn’t want to pretend. And think about this: It’s difficult for him to predict what’s going to happen. He just can’t imagine. He likes what’s concrete — what’s known.
Our school district uses the Accelerated Reading program. You read a book; you take a computer test; you get points. Games, prizes and treats are awarded based on the amount of points you have. What happens, though, if you read and read and read the book, but you just have no idea what happened in the book? No passing of the computer test. No points. No games, prizes or awards.
Oh! So frustrating for Mother. This would have been a cinch for me. I would have walked off with every stuffed animal, pizza and t-shirt in the place! Yet here I am — helpless — to give my child understanding. We can work on this. We can practice, but . . . I can’t make him have understanding. I can’t give him an imagination. Oh, I would if I could!
I am reminded in this powerful way, he is not mine to possess. He is his own person, created to do something that may be very different from what I imagined for him. And believe me when I say (and I’m talking to myself here), I have no doubt it will be better.
But I can’t wait for Accelerated Reading days to be over.