I was not going to blog tonight since it is the weekend and weekends are for relaxing and being lazy, but after my evening lesson and talk time with Philip, I just had to write.
My daily lesson and talk time with Philip is something I try never to miss, even on weekends. It is something that had to become a daily habit or discipline. It wasn’t easy at first. In the past, I would try very hard to work with Philip, only to eventually give up because we would both get so frustrated at each other. This time it had to be different. During our initial RPM learning times, Philip would often try to escape from his chair. He’d stand on the table and I would wrestle him down all the while saying, “sit down,” over and over till my voice was the loudest thing in the house. My son would pick the wrong choice as if he were doing it on purpose just to get me to give up. In the beginning, there were days I dreaded this learning time because I knew it was going to be the most challenging and grueling part of my day.
But something happened as we kept on going. Things were starting to click. I was getting into a rhythm about how to teach and ask questions. Philip broke out of his resistance and started responding and answering correctly. At first it was from choices I wrote down. Then it was from spelling when given a portion of the alphabet to spell a predictable answer that I had in mind. From there it was from a 26 letter stencil. Then I started asking open ended questions. Again, there was a roadblock and he couldn’t do it for many months, even though he could for Soma. Again, we’d push through, trying a little each day. Eventually there was a one word answer. One of the earliest open ended responses he gave me was on Valentine’s Day. I said, “On Valentine’s Day we celebrate love. Who do you love?” Hoping he would spell Mom, he instead spelled S-U-G-A-R. Oh well, I was just so happy he could answer something original and from himself!
After Soma came to Buffalo in May, Philip demonstrated he could spell in sentences, even paragraphs, and stories with Soma. We came home and built on his previous skills, till eventually, he started expressing himself to me in sentences and in complex thought!
Here’s what we did tonight. We started with a lesson on energy from Philip’s Science workbook for 4th grade. He answered factual questions about electricity, fossil fuels, and different types of energy. He even got 100% on the True/False quiz at the end of the chapter. We then read a poem Tito Mukhopadhyay (Soma’s son) wrote about the Niagara Falls. I asked Philip if he wanted to write a poem, to which he responded N for no. I asked his impression on his visit to the Falls and he spelled “I enjoy it.” We then did some multiplication.
We finished with my favorite part of our talk time: open ended discussion. I asked Philip, “What are you thankful to God for?” His answer: AUTISM. I could not believe it. I asked, “Did you mean to say you are thankful for having autism?” Y (for yes), he pointed to. “Tell me in what way you are thankful for autism," I implored.
This is what Philip spelled: ANYTHING IS GOOD IF YOU SEEK GOD.
I have much to ponder about tonight and will blog about it tomorrow. I am so thankful for Philip and for him teaching me so much.
Soma and Tito with the RPM Buffalo Families.