Bookmark and Share


vSAM continued from page 7 “Sam has a great group of friends who all share the same issues, same little quirks on the spectrum of their disorder but Middle School will be a big pond,” Amy said. “Some are more empathetic and emotional, some have more difficulties with social skills, but they balance each other.” The work with the speech therapist includes talking with Sam about what ifs. “What if this happened Sam, what would you do,” and after hearing his response, the therapist may offer another option like, ‘Sam, what if you did this?” The idea is to put Sam in another person’s shoes, so it is not such a one-sided conversation. Amy believes the philosophy focuses on repetition of a variety of interactions in order to reinforce more positive behavior patterns. Certainly, during these early years in Beadle School, Sam was relatively safe every day with the same students in his class and the same teacher. In Middle School, he will be placed in a variety of forced interactions with many other students and moving to different classrooms with different teachers. Sam has already expressed concern about Middle School looming on the horizon, the transition and the unknowns, and Amy understands his apprehension. “I know how poorly he deals with change and lack of structure and know those first few days will be very difficult for him,” Amy said. Amy said she can ask Sam a question and he will answer but he will never respond with a question. There is never any back and forth. It doesn’t occur to Sam to ask a question. She adds though he is a very enjoyable child even though he is messy and that exasperates her. She can follow his trail through the house whether it be the Legos he was playing with or fruit roll-up wrappers. He just drops as he goes – leaves a path. “I admit it is a struggle for me and I know Sam struggles, too,” Amy said. “It is very upsetting for him if he gets in trouble, almost like a physical pain for him. It is part of the spectrum disorder called rejection sensitivity and he cannot physically handle someone yelling at him, especially Jeff or me. He cries and says he’s sorry.” The family hopes that will improve with maturity and only time will tell. Another disadvantage Amy sees for Sam is he has not discovered his own voice so thinking for himself is a challenge. He tends to follow what someone else does but he is also very literal and very factual. Physics is his favorite topic and he will walk abound the house spouting facts. Interestingly enough, his older sister Hannah is a junior in college studying Physics as her major and they bond very well, talking about their favorite science. They even enjoy the same TV shows and Amy says their brains work similarly. Sharing facts with another person would be Sam’s choice rather than any social interaction. He would rather talk about the moon and stars or dark matter than ask how someone’s day went. “There’s a smart little brain in there and sometimes it’s a struggle to get it out when there are so many other things rattling in there, it’s hard to wade through it all,” Amy said. In his narrow-minded world, science is his interest and he excels in that area. The other subjects are not so important. He loves to watch videos about science all day long and prefers that to a book. Siri helps him to find things on the Internet because he struggles with spelling and is very phonetic. He also struggles with complete sentences because he cannot understand the structure of Grammar. His vocabulary is quite extensive, but he cannot bring the words to paper. The couple sees the frustration in Sam’s struggle to learn and how badly he wants it to be right. He worries about grades even though they have always encouraged all their children to work hard, knowing he is harder on himself than others are. Knowing his anxiety will grow as the subjects and classwork gets harder is a concern for the Johnsons. Sam also has learned the value of work as he knows he has chores every week and works hard to make sure the jobs are completed. He understands the importance of caring for his home and cleaning up after one’s self, which will serve him well when he is an adult. But really all Sam cares about is his science. He has no interest in band, choir, music or art. Sports have no attraction nor does swimming. He participated in a two-day robotics camp in Vermillion this summer and completed a week-long activity here in Yankton called Camp Invention for the third year. He came home with a lot of projects which they had created and also talked about recycling and environmental concerns during the week. The activities are very Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) based. “The activities for children like him are few and far between here,” Amy said. “I wish more people would be ‘thinking outside of the box’ for activities for children who are not sports-minded.” Amy and Jeff are very proactive about making sure Sam’s needs are met so he is successful in school. There is a good support system in the school and other parents with children like Sam need to be diligent, so their children’s needs are addressed. Advocating for better services is a continuing challenge. Diagnosing children with Autism and other disorders in the spectrum is becoming more common Amy believes. There are many forms of the disorder from low functioning children to high functioning with maybe nothing more than social quirks so there is more acceptance now. There is a willingness to recognize and diagnose children now. vSAM continued on page 27 October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month Bring In A Completed Chemo Cap and Receive 15% Off Your Entire Purchase! Cancer Caps will be donated to cancer patients in Yankton and the surrounding areas. 10% OFF All PINK Items In The Store! Save All Month! Expires 10/31/18 909 Broadway, Tripp Park Plaza 605-689-3999 www.eweknitit.com Open: Monday-Friday 10am-6pm • Saturday 10am-5pm HERVOICEvSEPTEMBER/OCTOBER 2018v19

© Copyright 2015 Her Voice Online