‘Smile’ & ‘Sunny’

My parents take a lot of photos of Charlie
Expect the above scene to get repeated approximately three times a day until next week, when my mom and dad—Po Po and Gong Gong, Cantonese for 'maternal grandmother' and 'maternal grandfather'—head back home to California. You can be sure, they (and my beloved Great Uncle Walt) have been aiming cameras of every sort at Charlie since he was just a few weeks old. It's probably a good thing that digital cameras came along or I'm sure my parents would have an entire room of their house devoted to photos of Charlie.

Charlie's been showing how used he is to the routine by saying 'smile!" himself while flashing a very nice one. He's also been saying 'How's my Charlie?" with a very pleased grin; it's a phrase that my dad has said to him over the years. Guess Charlie is making it his own.

Too, in a convenience store as he and I stood in line to pay, he looked at me (holding onto a few items he had selected) and said 'thank you,' to which I said 'you're welcome.' 

Saying 'thank you' after receiving something isn't what many would think of as a part of a conversational exchange. But it's a step in that direction for Charlie, who's not said 'thank you' (1) on his own and (2) at the appropriate moment consistently, ever.

Also in the car Monday morning en route to school (his last day of the 'regular' year), Charlie said a word he's never said on his own before. The sky was bright blue and I'd made some passing remark about the sun shining in our field of vision. From the backseat came, clear as a bell, the word 'sunny,' as it indeed was, and in contrast to another word that Charlie has been saying on and off of late, and that makes him, for whatever reason, grin, 'raining.' Actually, Charlie said both words, 'sunny' and then 'raining' and yes some may say, no big deal.

But he was certainly right about it being 'sunny.'

And he'd connected 'sunny,' a weather word, to another weather word, the aforementioned 'rainy.' I was reminded of the years that Charlie has had a 'weather' program on his IEP. His teachers and I had gone back and forth about how to teach him to identify the weather. Photo flashcards had not worked (Charlie was not sure what to identify in a photo of 'sunny,' which might have been of a landscape lit in bright sunlight; landscapes are of course full of things that he thought we were maybe asking him to identify). Colored line drawings had most definitely not worked; these are an artist's version of things in colors and lines, and Charlie has tended to identify the colors, lines and shapes. One teacher tried what seemed like a very sensible method, having Charlie look out the window and say whatever the weather was; Charlie didn't seem sure what he was being asked to identify and often just said the name of whatever (a tree, a fence, the play structure) caught his eye.

'Weather' got tabled, until yesterday when a few more words got added to Charlie's vocabulary.


And should anyone doubt the benefits of teaching Charlie and kids with disabilities, a few words by me at Care2.com on a topic I can never blog or say enough about.

6 Responses to “‘Smile’ & ‘Sunny’”
  1. Shannon says:

    Just love the picture of Charlie with all the cameras pointed at him. His grandparents really are lovely people. Lucky boy.
    P.S. Nice ads. *rimshot*

  2. emma says:

    Conversation, definitely conversation! It’s so great that Charlie is using these words and phrases, I believe they must all have significant meaning for Charlie (he chose “how’s my Charlie”)
    The weather is very tricky, Dimitri knows rain, because I made a point of going out when it rains… that and singing “it’s raining it’s pouring” a lot. Sunny, warm, cloudy, all much harder.
    (I’m smiling too)

  3. Linda says:

    The love exudes through their cameras. Beautiful picture of Charlie and his beloved grandparents who embody unconditional love.

  4. Melanie says:

    It’s amazing how one or two seemingly “simple” words are not at all simple for our kids. My boy said “White sky raining” the other day (white sky = day time) and I almost hit the floor in shock. Weather-related concepts aren’t in his IEP per se, but they are part of his life skills overall plan – if it’s raining, one needs an umbrella, etc. I’m just happy to get spontaneous, appropriate commentary from my kid. And yes, grandparents are great “therapy” – my folks arrive today!

  5. Louise says:

    Lovely photo – because it’s also a lovely mental image of you treasuring it and capturing it.
    This step towards interactive remarks and the use of descriptive adjectives is also a lovely development Congratulations!
    This question may seem impertinent, since youy concentrate on bettering the Now, but have you any familiarity with the writings of Mark Hyman, MD? My father now has sever Alzheimer’s, and his speech patterns are reminiscent of Charlie’s. When I was researching Alzheimer’s in “The Ultramind Solution,” Hyman argues that autism and Alzheimer’s “almost the same identical disease showing up at the opposite end of the age spectrum.” Hyman argues that both are the result of widespread brain inflammation that begins in the gut (ergo stomach distress so common in autistic children.)
    I’m not well-versed in the history of autism-cause-“cure”-treatment-intervention, so please excuse me if this is a stupid or inappropriate question.

  6. autismvox says:

    I hadn’t heard of Mark Hyman, thank you; I’ve read a couple of things seeking to connect autism to Alzheimer’s. I have to say, theories that focus on the ‘gut’ in autism might best be treated with some wariness; such pseudoscientific theories have been used to argue for the discredited and unfortunate notion that vaccines or something in vaccines might be linked to autism, along with a huge host of biomedical sort of treatments. Some of Charlie’s stomach problems are probably more due to his OCD-ness and resulting picky eating, and struggles with communication……. I go on a bit of a screed about these sorts of things as, in a previous blog-life (autismvox.com) I spent quite a bit of time addressing the ‘antivaxxers’ and the endless array of biomedical, alternative, unproven treatments for autistic children!
    Charlie rather had a chance to practice his use of ‘raining’ as he and Jim got soaked on a bike ride this afternoon…… it was ‘cloudy’ for much of the afternoon but I’m not sure about how to attempt to teach that term yet!
    Hope you have a lovely visit and plenty of ‘grandparents therapy,’ Melanie…
    @Shannon, heh heh, I have been amusing myself by clicking through on a few of those ads……

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