An Epiphany

I was thinking about progress, Emma’s specifically.  Through the literacy program we embarked on just exactly a year ago now, Emma is reading and writing in full sentences, we are also working on comprehension.  Her language is beginning to change as a direct result of all of this work.  As I was thinking about this yesterday, I realized something that probably seems obvious.

Drum roll please.

If Emma continues to make the sort of progress she’s made in the past year, we have nothing to worry about.

(Richard is yawning right about now.  He has maintained this for years and continually reminds me of it, but when he says it, it seems hard to believe.  Okay, now he’s rolling his eyes and probably has walked away.)

I know this may seem like less an epiphany and more a random thought that anyone who’s been reading this blog will have come to, and probably quite a bit sooner than I have.  But here’s the thing.  Sometimes I am just too close to it all.  I’m in the trenches, working with her, everyday, observing and noting.  But pulling back, taking the longer view, seeing Emma from a distance, well, it’s just much harder for me to gain that perspective.  Whenever I am able to and do though, I can see how far she’s come.  I am filled with excitement with her progress.  And yes, it feels as though I’ve had an epiphany.

Unfortunately I have a short memory.  So it’s important I write this down.  Maybe I’ll even remember to reread this post some day when I have forgotten and am feeling discouraged again.

On April 9th, 2011 we began her first literacy session.  We began with the word “sit.”  Prior to that we had worked on letter formation and sequencing with colored tiles.  From that day in April, Emma is now writing sentences in answer to questions such as – “What is this?”  “What is she doing?”  “What does she want to do?”

This is a sample of Emma’s writing answering those questions from this morning’s “literacy session.”

For more on Emma’s journey through a childhood of autism, go to:   www.Emma’s Hope

8 responses to “An Epiphany

  1. Being far removed from Emma I can see it more clearly than you can. It is almost incredible to me that she is now actually dealing with language, writing, communicating, and even eating what is to her strange foods!

    That’s what Christmas is all about, not the gifts under the tree, not the stockings stuffed with goodies, but the gifts all around us that we don’t even see because they change so gradually. Emma is a gift. We can see her, touch her, listen to her and rejoice because Christmas is coming and now it’s time to celebrate!

  2. She’s like her Granma – a joy!

  3. Do you think that the literacy affects the pragmatic language or the other way around? My son is very obsessed with letters and spelling, and we were advised not to let him get to hyperfocused on it (he recognized letters at 15 months) and to focus more on spoken language. Now that he in kindergarden, he is being re-exposed to it and is perseverating on it, a lot of “how do you spell __” over and over again, where it doesn’t seem to have an actual purpose him. I wonder if when he gets to the writing full sentences phase if that helps them process and understand language better, as opposed to processing it auditorily (not sure thats a word) where things may get jumbled?
    So awesome to see how far Emma has come in just a year! Do you think it is all Dr. Blanks program, or do you think stem cell’s have played a big part in it?

    • Hi Shiri,
      Thanks so much for the kind, supportive words. It’s impossible to say whether the stem cells have made a difference. Perhaps they made this tremendous progress we are seeing with Dr. Blank’s program possible. I don’t know. I know that the cost of doing more stem cell treatments was prohibitive and the small differences we saw – increase in eye contact, able to focus a bit more – were not the sort of “miracle” we’d hoped for having gone to Central America for three treatments over the course of a year. What I do know, without a doubt, is that Dr. Blank’s program has made a bigger difference than anything else we’ve done or tried. I wish we’d found her when Emma was first diagnosed. She would certainly have been at grade level by now. However, hindsight is 20/20, as they say, so I’m just grateful we found her at all. As far as Em’s language, having worked with her now on Dr. Blank’s literacy program I can say that her language is absolutely a direct result of the literacy program. But Emma isn’t hyperlexic, so I don’t know how that translates for a child who is. Thanks again for your comments. Really enjoy hearing from you.

  4. Thanks for the information, I’m going to put to literacy program on my list 🙂

  5. Pingback: I AM RIGHT — Reading and Speech in Children with Autism

  6. I am in utter shock as I read through this entry and looked at Emma’s handwriting, and then learning more about Dr. Blank’s work. I’ve long suspected that my child has to learn how to read before he can learn how to speak (he is verbal but he struggles with syntax and the way sentences are put together.) Even though it sounded to me like such a crazy idea — I knew that I was going by my many thousands of hours of careful observation of my child and how he learns — and the scientist in me began to then create a hypothesis of how my child will begin to “unlock” this morass of the English language. It was the reason why I enrolled him earlier this year in a phonics class, although I remain uncertain the approach was the right one (now I’m pretty sure it isn’t, at least for my child.) THANK YOU and I will let you know what happens when I start working with Dr. Blank’s materials with my child.

    I was so excited when I read this entry I literally jumped out of bed at wee hours of the morning to write this (and to order the material)!

    • Jane, so glad you’ve found this helpful. Dr. Blank’s program is the only program that has helped Emma learn to read and write, and we tried many over the years. In just over a year she continues to improve her reading, handwriting and typing skills. Two years ago we were despairing that this would ever occur. If nothing else, it is a message that we can NEVER give up! Our children CAN learn, whether they are verbal or not. They can and they do.

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