James really enjoys the other students. He gets along well with his peer group and he likes the company of the children. He’s doing quite well with his learning. He is on track with reading, sight words and phonological awareness skills. A high percentage of children with autism have dysgraphia which is a disorder which effects motor coordination when writing or drawing. James finds handwriting extremely difficult for many reasons – however I believe that ultimately he’ll probably be diagnosed with dysgraphia as well. This condition would have been really crippling in generations past, however now with the advent of iPads and laptops, it’s not such a big issue providing the child is able to access this technology each day.
There are so many funny stories and sayings that James has. Echolalia is part of his condition and has been evident in him from a young age. Echolalia is the immediate or delayed repeating back of information. Children may repeat back exactly what you’ve just said to them, or it can involve repeating back large pieces of information to you, like film scripts etc. He is currently obsessed with Star Wars and the Clone Wars series, so consequently we hear lots of lines from these shows. “Why do I always get the lousy ops (operations)?” is generally muttered when he’s asked to do a job he’d rather not do. “I’ve got a bad feeling about this!” is also regularly taken out for a spin. “Sir, yes Sir!” and other army style retorts are also popular. Imagine his teacher’s amusement when his response to hearing his name at roll call was, “Present Mistress!”
“Quit your whining Cyril!” (a line from Blinky Bill) is routinely directed at Tom when he’s whinging about something or other. “This is so ludicrous!” and “You’ve got to be joking!” are also routine phrases used when something is not to his liking. Recently, he started referring to girls as “Sweet lips!” after watching an episode of Power Rangers … at least I thought that’s what he was saying … but I later realised he was actually saying, “Squid lips!” – not quite as flattering! He is speaking quite well now but his speech is certainly still disordered and he routinely mispronounces words. My current most regular mispronunciation is, “Mum, I’m hammocking, I’m hammocking!” translation … “Mum, I’m panicking, I’m panicking!” Bless him!