Self-Improvement and Recovery

Anna uses the word "freedom" spontaneously & in a novel sentence, first time using and abstract noun


The last few days of Chinese - and life too, actually - have been really challenging with Anna, where she struggles to learn basic things from language most people knew before school age, like what "this" or "that" are used for (ie, "this" is usually used for nearby stuff, "that is usually for stuff farther away), which was what happened yesterday.  She has trouble understanding what I'm saying and what we're learning at Chinese again because it's doing something she can't or doesn't do in English most of the time, now.  I get so frustrated having to explain to a 20 year old how to use "this" and "that" in a sentence, and there's difficulty even having her understand the teaching that we often have to so sideways into teaching other basics of language just for her to understand my current point - all stuff even a 5 or 6 year old would normally have no problem with.  It's so frustrating I wonder what I'm doing trying, like I am crazy to keep trying. 


But here are occasional signs that she's moving developmentally in language she's been using here and there, especially in the last several months since we've "hit a wall" on harder language in the chinese duolingo app.  We work on chinese every day and every day she learns something better about language in general, but we're so behind in terms of the parts of speech and clauses being underused or not used at all that it's easy to feel overwhelmed despite small signs of success creeping in lately.  It's not like when she was starting her recovery, where any improvement or change at all was huge, in part because we were imagining a change in the learning curve that could approach normal or even high functioning, whereas now at 20, little glimmers of progress after years of never spontaneously using prepositions, nor adverbs, nor adjectives, nor conjunctions, nor clauses that make sentences more complex.  It's so easy to feel hopeless or upset with myself for spending so much time trying.  


2022-05-06 Anna helping me clean  smiling  teal blue shirt  night timeIMG_5368Anna shown here, helping me clean up.  I made a shape with her out of plastic packaging we were going to recycle/ toss, before-hand.  


But still, the occurrence of these changes need to be encouraged and focused on by me much like blowing on embers to ignite a flame, is how to speed and encouraged the "sticking" of the newly emerging skill.  There was at least one or a couple changes lately, but the one I just heard was exciting and hopeful a few minutes ago, so I had to write.  (I often write to create a timeline, what happens with her that is hopeful, without ever posting it publicly, because that takes more time than I have at the time when I was recording, but I thought I should post this because it's a big deal.)


Anyway, Anna said "I was organizing my christmas paper toys into a zip lock bag so they won't get wet and if I want to I could have the freedom to play with them".  Notice the abstract noun, "freedom", not something we talk about often, not something she has a reason to have rehearsed using.  She often talks about organizing, something I've included her in for many hours as I have cleaned and organized myself, including labeling, cleaning and boxes and folders, etc. but never using new language that I know of.  Since she "hit the wall" as a child learning all the nouns she could that she could see or draw, and unable to learn any "concepts", I've been wondering for years how and when she'd ever be able to learn a concept she couldn't point to in the physical world of nouns and verbs.  Well, how glorious and poetic that "freedom" was her first abstract, spontaneously used abstract noun!  I figured she's use these parts of speech more masterfully first, but getting abstract nouns is something I've been waiting for since she was failing to develop at a year old, worsening, so I've been waiting almost 2 decades for this.  I guess I'll take what I can get and glad this was one I didn't have to coach to directly, a severe rarity when working with autistic people.






Barbara Rose

A mom finds happiness and a way around her own limitations through helping her autistic daughter recover.


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