Demonstrated Progress at Last! Jonathan's Adventures

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Today was a busy day for my oldest, who has non-verbal autism. He has been diagnosed as high functioning, meaning his intelligence is quite high, yet he can't communicate that intelligence very well. In fact, his teachers struggle to get it out of him, as do we at home. My theory is that he sees his reluctance at demonstrating his intelligence as an advantage, allowing him to do more of what he wants to do instead of what he should be doing.

Well, today his strategy was dealt a serious blow. As my wife and our youngest went to a birthday party of a primary classmate, my eldest and I had a couple of hours together. We started by turning off the TV, as he was bored and I was wondering if I could find a good tuning app for my guitar. Once it was tuned up, I played a bit and then we went to the pool for a bit.

When we came back, I started playing the guitar again, playing hymns and family songs. My eldest had a blast, even strumming a bit on the guitar as I played the chords! Then I installed Garageband on his iPad while I played around. He then recorded a 4 beat tune that was pretty cool! In fact, it matched Pachelbel's Canon in C perfectly! So I added some instruments and percussions, and came up with a neat little song.

Jonathan sitting in the wolf's den in the Polar Bear exhibit, San Diego Zoo

When my wife and my youngest got back, we took off to the San Diego Zoo. Once there, my eldest started to get restless. Perhaps because he was hungry, perhaps because he was excited (it's hard to tell sometimes), I started quizzing him. I'd ask him to point out an animal, and see if he could do it.

And with just about every animal I asked after, he pointed out!  He was probably 90% accurate in his pointing, and was really excited to point out animals whether or not we asked.  We cheered him on, and got a little choked up, seeing his progress and excitement.  Jonathan pointing out the komodo dragon, San Diego Zoo

There are times when, after a long day of struggling to have him perform basic tasks, fighting with tantrums and destructive behavior, when we question if any progress in his condition is being made. Hours of soul searching, self doubt, and worry follow, often well into the night. But tonight, after this real life demonstration of listening comprehension (understanding the question), gross-motor skills(pointing with the arm), fine motor skills (pointing with his finger), and cognitive activity (identifying a word, relating it to an identified visual cue of the animal, and indicating that identification with both gross and fine motor skills), we are both are excited. He is learning, he comprehends, he is showing his intelligence. That is priceless.And with just about every animal I asked after, he pointed out! He was probably 90% accurate in his pointing, and was really excited to point out animals whether or not we asked. We cheered him on, and got a little choked up, seeing his progress and excitement.