Blogging about life in Minnesota, raising our six kids with Down syndrome while battling Breast Cancer.

Be the kind of woman that when your feet hit the floor in the morning the devil says, "Oh shit! She's up!"

Sunday, January 26, 2014

What if he doesn't want to learn

Abel has been home for 9 months this week. For nine months we have worked on his learning to "be" in the world. In the midst of that we have also worked on learning some academic related things, like letters, colors, etc.

Let me just say, Abel is one stubborn boy!

But is he really? Maybe learning to be in the world is all he can manage right now? Because really? He was so far behind in the game there has been A LOT for him to learn. He has learned and knows how to live at home now. He totally gets the routine of our life. He is the most helpful of all the kids, the first to grab grocery bags out of our hand so he can put stuff away. He is the "neat freak" and wants things put away in their correct places (most of the time anyway.) He is a stickler for doing this the way our routine dictate they should be done.

But just once, try to get him to sit down with the iPad and play with a learning app. OH THE TEARS! Unlike Asher, who loves to sit and watch over someone's shoulder, Abel avoids the the iPad at all costs. We have a new computer with a touch screen monitor. If I put him on kid websites that are all cause and effect...yeah...its not happening. He cries and cries, "All done. All done" he cries. If I sit down with him at the table and we work on a fun activity together, he can't stand it. He wants nothing to do with it. Knowing he has MAJOR attachment issues, I try to set things up that he can do without my 1:1 attention. He will put his hands under his legs and cry as if someone is torturing him.

When Axel came home, by the time we arrived here in the US he knew half of his letters and most of the letter sounds. They are very different kids. They are both very intelligent, but they are driven by different types of learning styles. Axel is all about figuring things out. We can't leave any electronic gadgets sitting out our Axel is likely to reprogram them, erase them, or something along those lines. I have had to change the settings on one of our iPads several times because he keeps going into it and messing with stuff. Very typical behavior, of course, although he'll do it no matter how many times we tell him not to.

But Abel is different. Abel is driven by movement. The faster, the harder, the better. He wants to move hard and fast. I have tried incorporating this  need of his into learning activities. Like RUN to the other side of the room, drop a letter into a bucket with the matching shape, etc. No go. That is learning, something he is resistant to.

Unless I bring out the food.

Food is still Abel's biggest motivator. When the right foods come out (something really chewy to give him oral input, like gummy bears, alternating with something crunchy like pieces of cereal) He is suddenly able to match colors, and can even identify red, blue and yellow. When asked to do a simple puzzle, he normally slams the pieces around mad that he has to do it, but shown his edible reward he easily puts them into the right places, even gently...when he's told no treat if he does it with roughness and slamming.

Now Abel is learning how to be in school. We've been slowly working him into his school day, with me having as little involvement as possible. At the moment we're addressing a critical behavior that I think within a couple of days we'll have extinguished. (post coming up about that) Right now he's still only there for a couple hours a day, but by the 10th he'll be in school full time. So far, so good!


Stephanie said...

Very interesting never really occurred to me until Owen came along how you motivate a kiddo that doesn't want to do something (even though he eventually needs to do it!). Owen is very much into movement as well and so we will often use his trampoline as a motivator to do something. He loves his Kindle games and we use that too--you need to cut 2 lines across this paper and then you can do 2 puzzles on the Kindle sort of thing. It's working well now because he understands what that all means!

Leah Spring said...

I keep hoping that once he gets past the learning how to function part, he'll be more willing to participate in academic learning. He is SO stink'in smart, I know he's very capable. I wish I could understand what it is that makes him so resistant. If I could understand it, I could work him through it. Maybe it's just me? He does have major attachment issues, so maybe he will learn better from school staff. I'm ok with that.

goneahead said...

It sounds like Abel maybe an extreme kinesthetic learner. I say this because I am one. Unlike a normal KL, its not just movement or touch - my brain is set to run in multiple tracks. Just sitting down and focusing is hard because it means less input. Less input means less tracks going, less tracks means I will lose focus -- and as a kid, thats when adults would jump on me for not wanting to focus and learn.

If he is an extreme KL, then he needs more input to do quiet activities - like sitting in a rocker or having an mp3 player music or taping velcro to the keys on the keyboard or using a stylus for a tablet. It also helps immensely to be barefoot and not be expected to immediately understand patterns on screens. Computer screens are made to be understood by visual learners - for people like me, they actually just look like flat things full of weird and random things that often make no sense.

Leah Spring said...

Goneahead, that is very helpful to know. That is a pretty good description of Abel, actually. He ALWAYS has some sound making thing (like a toy phone, toy keyboard, etc.) held up to his ear. Always. He uses vibration on his head and needs that in order to sit still. I never try to get him to just sit, with nothing, he always has something...vibration, etc. to use however he needs to use it. His fine motor skills are terrible so he does use a stylus for the iPad, but he still hates that. Thankfully his school is excellent, and will try anything a kid seems to need if it will help them.