Friday, September 13, 2013

The Girl On the Bus

Ever since we’ve been in Buffalo, Philip has ridden on the bus to and from school.  There has been only one girl on this busload of boys.  Her name is Kaylie.  I wonder what a bus ride is like for Philip.  I remember when I was little how the bus was like its own world run by kids.  The cool kids ruled from the back and it was usually noisy as kids could finally let loose after a day listening to teachers.  I imagine the bus ride to and from Philip’s school is a lot quieter, but I wonder if the kids think about each other and imagine what they might say to one another if they could talk.

Today Philip had a playdate with Kaylie.  Kaylie’s mom Lisa has become a good friend of mine from our support group.  She and Kaylie also took part in the Soma-RPM workshop in Buffalo last May.  Lisa and her husband Tim have worked with Kaylie regularly and she has just started to answer some open-ended questions.  We wanted to get the kids together to have the experience of using their letterboards to communicate with one another and perhaps motivate each other to keep getting better.

Philip was looking forward to his day with Kaylie.  Before she arrived, I told Philip to be thinking of a question he wanted to ask Kaylie as well as some advice for communicating.  Philip has been doing RPM 7 months longer than Kaylie.  When Lisa and Kaylie arrived, Kaylie was all smiles.  I was reminded of the beginnings of puberty.  Kaylie was almost a head taller than Philip though they are the same age.  We all sat at my dining room table where I do most of my communicating with Philip.  Each child had their black letterboard stencil with their mom, each named Lisa, to their side.  I started :

LR(me): How do you know Kaylie?

LR: Is there a question you’ve wanted to ask Kaylie?
P: Y
LR: What is it? 

P:  (haltingly) ARE YOU ATTRACTED TO ME?
Lisa and I tried to suppress our giggles.  I double checked to make sure that’s what he wanted to ask and felt slightly flushed at my son’s boldness.
LR:  That’s good.  You’re too young for that stuff anyway!  

LC (Kaylie’s Mom): Do you like Philip as a friend?

LR: Philip, do you have any advice for Kaylie to help her get better with spelling and communicating?

LC: Kaylie is having a birthday this weekend.
LR: How old will you be?

LC: How old are you Philip?
P: (on number stencil) 10

LR: Kaylie, what do you want for your birthday?
Kaylie spelled quickly with hardly a pause between each letter.

LC: Philip, who is your teacher this year?

LR: Kaylie, who is your teacher?

By now the kids were getting a bit restless.  They had moments when both were acting silly and laughing, but now Philip was escaping his chair and Kaylie was reaching for her iPad to play a video.  It was our cue that the playdate was over.

I did want to show Lisa and Kaylie one more thing before they left.  I am teaching Philip reading (actually I didn’t teach him, he picked it up on his own), answering on his stencilboard, and then shadowing to typing on a bluetooth keyboard on the table synched to an iPad.  

After bringing Philip back to the table, I wrote down, “What is your friend’s name?”  I showed it to Philip without reading it out loud.  He then alternately pointed to the letters and typed them: 


As we said our goodbyes, I wondered about Philip’s crush with a smile.  

I asked Philip later about his day with Kaylie. “AN EXELENT IDEA.”  “What do you think of Kaylie?  “SHE IS NICE.”  “Do you think she is cute?” “Y”  “Do you want to have another playdate?” “Y” “When?” “AS SOON AS WE CAN.”

 At the annual school T-ball game (Kaylie was in his class that year)



  1. OMG, that is too too much. 10 year olds these days....
    "are you attracted to me?"!!!!!!
    You are too young for that anyways"!!!!

    Unbelievable. What a great idea. Try other ideas next time such as hangman/word games. They may have wanted out because emotional and open ended stuff makes kids squirmish anyway.
    Also can you elaborate on what you are doing with reading? Sanjay does not open a book and actually read but he can read great and can answer questions too... I don't know how. Erika told me that he uses his peripheral vision and just scans and maybe that is how he is reading but his spelling is wow, he spells things like cuisine, archipelago etc.

    Although he can spell and do math like crazy, he is just 6 years old especially when it comes to thought processes. Today during our writing prompt, the question was "if you were to become a shape what shape would you become and why?
    Sanjay's answer" I would become a rectangle because rectangles are the shapes that are found most often and it is my favorite shape.

    Sanjay is writing with my help and I am doing open ended stuff with him such as writing prompts only while our writing time. he is not able to do it on the 26 stencil board and still struggles with the open ended with the three stencils. it becomes too tendious to choose A-I/J-R/S-Z and go from letter to letter. We started almost 1.5 years ago and sometimes I get dejected thinking about how slow his progress is.

    I enjoy reading your posts so much.

    1. I know! I don't know where he came up with the idea to ask that! Perhaps it is living with 2 older siblings.

      I love the idea of word games and Hangman! I will definitely try it next time- maybe with a riddle and they have to guess the word.

      I just started with reading a little while ago. I wanted to test if Philip could do it. I started with writing a question. Then I wrote a 3 sentence story and asked him questions about it. He could do it. Next will be trying to read a page in a beginner reader. I'll let you know how it goes. Your son is so advanced!! I do get a feeling our kids are all pretty advanced in some areas like math and spelling. It's so cool to discover it!

      I like your writing prompts. They are so creative! I want to ask the shape one. Is Sanjay actually handwriting? I don't think that Philip has the proprioceptive/fine motor control to do it as he says he can only feel his hands a little bit and has lost much control of them over the years.

      I wouldn't get discouraged about Sanjay's progress. He sounds like he is doing amazing and he is only 6! Be proud you have started already. By the time he is 10, he may be writing his own book!

      Thanks for your comments. You have lots of great ideas!

    2. Thanks Lisa. Patricia Hong is another RPM mom based in the Philippines who has been a great great source of encouragement and ideas for me. You can search for her posts at the Halo forum and she is on facebook as well. Her son is 12. For the past almost two years, I have been working on motor memory in Sanjay's hands. It is a very neat concept. Basically, it was a aha moment for me because SAnjay does not look at the paper, his gaze is far away and he also does not bend his neck to write/color etc. Soma has written about motor memory in the forum as well. So in order to get him to get motor memory I invested in some neat apps on the ipad and iphone, such as iwrite and letterschool. We would practice writing letters daily, I mean daily. I remember making Sanjay do them even in the airplane on the way to Green Bay.It did not matter whether he looked on not, what mattered was that his hand was moving and creating a memory. It was quite the process but now, when he writes, he does not look at all. He looks up/gazes or may be he looks, dunno.
      Now I am working on his muscles because like everything else nobody believes that Sanjay writes because I have to hold his wrist down and give support at the forearm. So I am experimenting with all kinds of gizmos to get him to do it by himself eventually.

      Patience.Patience. Isn't that the biggest lesson in this journey?

      But the truth is, even if Sanjay did not progress one bit from where we are here now, I am so so full of gratitude to the Lord to show me the way. to give me this glimpse of a person that my child is.

      There are lots of websites with writing prompts for ten year olds.. have you tried Soduku or crosswords for Philip?

      I love what you are doing with your blog. And thanks for replying.