By Melissa Lake – Contributor
I have been using a program this summer called Hand Over Hand to keep my son Logan busy learning. We work on a few things each day to perform tasks better. I work hard at helping him do the best he can with them, and by employing whatever method works for him.
When I do Hand over Hand, I stand behind Logan or to the side depending on what is needed for his project. I like to do this with him to get an idea of why something is done a certain way. It makes one really think how hard it is to break down an everyday task when you have background noise, such as doors shutting, kids talking, cats meowing, the television, and so on. It’s kind of amazing to think that my son’s Autistic mind does not stop thinking even during sleep unless he has his medication properly through the day.
Some tasks we are working on include doing dishes, sweeping, and laundry. He is already sorting socks and shirts. He has turned 10 and has an interest, so now is a perfect time. Logan does not need a lot of help, and if shown the proper steps, I am sure he will be able to do small batches of dishes standing next to a helper who reminds him how well he is doing. I see Logan growing in long strides every day. He is also learning how to shop in the store and place groceries in the cart.
Logan enjoys making his own kids’ cuisines and pizzas in the kitchen. Butter on toast is like a sensory candy for Logan because it smells so good, and he prepares it himself. He lavishes the taste of warm toasted bread that smells like a bakery. His secret favorite treat is Goober Grape and Peanut butter straight out of the jar, so he just grabs a fork or spoon and has his “joy”. Walking up to hot stoves is a no, but microwaving and trying to toast anything is a go. He now pops his popcorn at 3 minutes instead of 4 or more just to make sure there are no more fire ALARMS. He enjoys the foods he makes, so proud of the creation he has made.
The act of talking with someone on the phone has moved up a step as Logan says “Hello,” “Love You,” and “Goodbye,” and pauses to listen to the other person talk. Of course, he really loves to talk with his dad on the phone in different character voices. As for reading, every word is one big leap into becoming the great student his school will be receiving in a month. Everything is sight words to him! My favorite is “We L come.” Sounding the word out, now he just says it.
It seems like a lot of work to teach someone how to function in daily living, but who better than his family who loves him and wants the best for him? I have even found Logan on the piano just singing joyfully to a nice, soft tune (piano lessons are next).
I don’t think the Hand Over Hand assistance will go on forever. Logan is learning rapidly. His last year of progress proves he is definitely a hands-on learner, and with consistency through school. I see him needing little help as an adult. We will see:)