Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Listening is Fundamental (Update)

Hello and welcome back! You didn't even know I was gone, did you?

During the summer we had our own mini version of summer school for my oldest son. Considering that he ended 6th grade on a less than sub-standard note, I felt it was only fair. Looking back over the past school year I realize that there were several factors that contributed to his poor performance, which I won't go into here.

Honestly, I wasn't concerned about math, science, or social studies. His main problem in those areas was a lack of organizational skills, i.e. forgetting to turn in work. What really concerned me was language arts, or as they used to say back in the day, reading and writing. The writing could be dealt with by using a keyboard for the most part (except in math). Addressing his negative attitude toward reading had me stumped...until I was inspired to let him read a book while simultaneously listening to the audio version.

Over the summer I watched him go from a reluctant reader who despised reading to a I'd-still-rather-be-doing-something-else-but-at-least-I-don't-hate-it reader. Seriously, folks, that's a huge improvement. His 7th grade language arts teacher has graciously allowed him to bring his book on CD to school, where during the allotted reading time he can listen and read along. I think having an IEP that allowed for alternative materials helped quite a bit. He started off the 7th grade Accelerated Reading requirement by rereading the books from his summer reading list. I'm happy to report that on two of the book quizzes he scored 100%. On the third book quiz, he score 90%. He has already achieved his AR goal for this quarter. This did not happen very often in the past.

I know this is hard to believe for an almost 13 year-old, but listening is one of my son's strengths. I'm convinced that listening to a story while reading along gives him the freedom to concentrate on the actual story rather than trying to focus on the mechanics and skill of narrating the story in his head. Many kids with Asperger's Syndrome struggle with voice modulation and tone. If they struggle with trying to find right tone and expression for their own voices how much more might they struggle by trying to use the right tone for the written stories of others? Food for thought. Anyway, we are continuing with this experiment and I hope it opens up a whole new world for him.

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