My name is Pamela. I am a girl. I
am 18. I born in Adak. Common
year has 1989. My favorite is math. I learn a bird. Mother Goose has a goose.
His name is Bertram. He
looks a village. He like some fun. I made him in clay in
[Tammy's Note: Pamela made the clay Bertram pictured above for a Kaleidoscope mural at Wilson Park when she was sixteen years old. Back in 1991, when Pamela was two-years old, I bought a pair of video tapes, Mother Goose Video Treasury, Volume 1 and 2 and Mother Goose Video Treasury, Volume 3 and 4 from her babysitter, an Avon representative. Pamela began watching them, but we had no clue how much she loved them until she was in her teens. When she became adept at the Internet, she searched the net for her favorite people associated with the production, in particular Cheryl Rhoads and Will Ryan. Pamela engaged us in many a conversation about these beloved videos. One day, she asked me if she could still watch these Mother Goose videos when she became an adult! Here is what she wrote about MGVT in her journal:
In 1991, I picked MGVT: 1 and 2 and MGVT: 3 and 4. In 1996, I broke a video call: MGVT: 1 and 2. In 2001, MGVT: 3 and 4 is not working. I used a video cleaner. In 2004, I bought another MGVT: 1 and 2.]
Calendars - I am good at
know of common, and leap year. The
chinese calendar is a rooster, Dog, pig, rat, ox, tiger,
rabbit, dragon, snake, horse, sheep, and monkey. Five
elements are metel, Earth, fire, wood, water.
[Tammy's Note: Pamela has savant skills in calendars. She researched them online and memorized the fourteen kinds of calendars (seven kinds of leap years and seven kinds of common years). When given a date, she looks up the calendar in her mind and tells you the day of the week. I have folders full of sheets like this one--I had to check a calendar website to verify her perfect accuracy!
In years past, I put Pamela's ideas into words on this section of her web page. She just reached present tense verbs in the Association Method (pg. 10) and, now, all material in italics are pure Pamela! The Flesch-Kincaid Grade Level of this section is 5.3. We have spent years of hard work and dedication to reach this point. I have learned to never give up on her: she can do many things if given the time and the right approach.]
|Books I'm Reading
Good-Bye, Mr. Chips
Tom Sawyer FREE
|Videos/DVDs I Love
Born of Fire
Egypt: Quest for Eternity
Polar Bear Alert
|Music I Love
Burning Seasons: Six Strings II
Cool: Earl Klugh/Bob James
Ninth Symphony: Beethoven
Time and Tide: Basia
June 28, 2007
Baton Rouge, Louisiana
Near Boutin's Restaurant
The turtles are green. The turtles are happy. The turtles sit on the log. The log is brown. The log is on the water. The water is hot. The water is swampy and gray. The city is Baton Rouge. Baton Rouge is in Louisiana. Louisiana is great.
Joris has Hans and Habel. He has Freya. He has a farmer. He has a new barn. He bought Freya. He buy Nero. He is happy. He has an old windmill. It blows some wind. Leendert has Joris. He puts Joris in a jail. He feels sad.
Leendert is a bad man. He stole a bike. Joris has a girl. He hit a girl head. She is sick. He wants a doctor. He wants the sick girl. A bag is in some bushes. He finds the bag. He feels happy.
Joris wears some clothes. He has Freya. He has Hendrik. He has Nero. They swim in a pool. Some German Solders save Hendrik. Some people fall on the ground. Some airplanes burn on the ground.
Joris has a puppy. He sees some fly people. He sees a woman, a man, and a boy. The man and the boy put in a jail. The woman has some broken white teeth. He sees a mill. It is scary. It has some spiders, and some cats, and some bats. He sees Charles. Charles is a good person. Charles has some pairachutes.
Tim has a boat in 1976. He has a storm. He crashes the boat. He sees an ocean. He sees some oxhides. The oxhides has some fur.
Tim has Rolf. Rolf has Peter. Peter has Geoge. Geoge has Arther. Arther has the Brendon. It has a wooden leather boat. It has some thunder. It has no crashes. Arther has some seasickness.
Tim has some people. The people have some wet clothes He has a storm. The boat has the trailer. The trailer has some windows. The people are hungry. They eat some vegetables. The storm is stop. The people feel happy.
Early Intervention - We thought autism when our aloof Pamela had no language at 2. She was "healthy," except for insomnia, allergies/ear infections, chronic diaper rash (later, eczema), gastrointestinal problems, and sinus infections. A developmental pediatrician considered Pamela too young for a diagnosis. She attended a toddler class 3 days a week. We started teaching her sign language. In 6 months, she dropped signs for words: "So-see" for music, "Coo-koo" for cookie, etc. Research confirms the brain processes signs the same as speech!
Non-categorical Preschool - Pamela attended non-categorical preschool from ages 2.5 to 5, but the noise overwhelmed her. She mastered most goals in our quiet home. Her teachers did not use autism-specific techniques either. She attended a private preschool, 1/2 days, every summer. Pamela learned a word at a time (mainly nouns), used it for a month, and dropped it to master another noun.
B-6/DMG - When Pamela turned 4, I read Sound of a Miracle , which lead us to the Autism Research Institute. Following ARI's advice, we mapped a plan to try one treatment at time to gauge effectiveness. We returned the E-2 and E-3 forms: Pamela scored +4 in behavior, +2 in speech and +6 overall in the autistic category. Because of their high better:worse ratios, we tried B-6 and DMG, but saw no effect.
Rotation Diet - We struck gold with the rotation diet. We sorted Pamela's food into 4-day cycles to avoid the same food every day. We linked her insomnia, night sweats, tooth-grinding, and nausea to apples (arabinose). She did not react to gluten and casein for she needed total elimination. Pamela doubled her sleep to 8 hours a night! Her infections lessened, and she rarely needed to see her doctor.
Auditory Integration Training - AIT helped Pamela conquer specific sound sensitivities. Near the end of AIT, Pamela grabbed my hand and pulled me up the dreaded escalator! She stopped covering her ears when riding on bridges. She blew out the candles on David's birthday cake, without practice!
Applied Behavior Analysis - When Pamela was 5, I developed a small ABA program using The ME Book and spent 10 hours a week on her academics, combining flash cards and manipulatives with music. We mixed "Old McDonald" with flash cards to teach animal names and sounds. Pamela learned colors, letters and number recognition. Pamela could say 70 nouns and names, but few verbs and adjectives. Word combinations were phrases she interpreted as words.
Hippotherapy - Pamela, now 6, ended her best year with a teacher who understood her learning style. Her teacher saw her label-reading abilities and taught her to sight read! That summer, Pamela loved hippotherapy because riding horses stimulated her tactile (touch), vestibular (balance) and proprioreceptive (joints) sensory systems. She learned to say, "Trot on!"
Sensory Integration - From early infancy, Pamela was sensory defensive . Her extreme tactile defensiveness ended after her sleep normalized. Nancy Kashman, a dear friend and occupational therapist, taught us brushing and joint compression and calming techniques. We did not brush due to eczema, but we used sensory integration to prevent overstimulation and soothe her.
GF/CF Diet - By far, the GF/CF diet is the most effective therapy to date! At age 6.5, Pamela was a potty failure because opioids numbed her bladder. After 2 weeks on the diet, she controlled her bladder. She was diaper-free during the day after 2 months! Slowly she grew more at ease in social settings. Her spontaneous speech soared, and she taught herself pretend play. Pamela was more aware of her environment. Diet violations caused a rash, agitation, incontinence and temporary regression of language and abstract thinking.
Anti-Candida - We put Pamela on an anti-candida protocol (diet and supplements). Pamela's "chronic incurable" (according to her pediatrician) eczema has been in remission ever since! Had we tried this protocol in her toddler years, she would have been spared 18 months of bleeding diaper rash.
Patterning - We started homeschooling when we began the GF/CF diet. I knew one other homeschooler of an autistic child who explained NACD exercises. We did patterning for gross motor and fine motor stimulation. Pamela was ambidextrous, so I checked her preferences for eye, ear, and leg; she was clearly a lefty. She despised fine motor activities, and I think her teachers favored her right-hand. I focused her on her left hand, and we stopped coloring, cutting and writing. The next year, we combined coloring with crayon stubbies for pencil grip and Handwriting without Tears. By 8, Pamela could print large legible letters--without tears! We did patterning for two years, which improved body awareness: she climbed steps alternating feet and taught herself to swim and pump a swing. Years later her swim teacher was surprised that Pamela was self-taught.
Unit Studies - The second year of homeschooling, I created unit studies about calendar and authors. Pamela loved themes and checked out stacks of books by theme or author! The next 2 years we used the KONOS curriculum, which Pamela adored. She taught herself to draw by watching Blues Clues, which boosted her language and hooked her on problem-solving.
Co-op - The second year of homeschooling, we also eased Pamela into group activities through library story time twice a month. From ages 8-11, Pamela attended a 6-hour homeschooling co-op with children once a week. I provided autism awareness training and guides, created adaptations and visual aids, used a variety of techniques for calming, and placed in K-2 or 3-5, depending on her skill in that subject. At first, I pulled Pamela out of class a couple times a day to prevent meltdowns. Eventually, she rarely needed calming and even attended 15 hours of Vacation Bible School one week with 60 other children with no problems. Although Pamela did not crave 1:1 friendship, she loved the co-op children and attended parties and even a sleep-over! Before we moved, she invited co-op friends to her 11th birthday party, and 35 children came!
Social Stories - At 9, Pamela rebelled against her diet because she did not understand its important. We wrote several diet social stories, starting with "Why My Cereals are Just Like TV Commercials." After 2 months, Pamela cooperated with her diet. The stories generalized so well she read labels and told me "No wheat, no sick," even though her stories never suggested label-reading! We wrote successful social stories for other situations.
DMSA - We found high levels of mercury in Pamela's hair tissue a few years back and recently in her urine. We tried a combination of mineral supplements and DMSA in 1998, but we did not include a key ingredient, alpha lipoic acid. We cleared her loosely-bound mercury, but not the mercury stored in tissues. We did another round of DMSA in 2001 based upon the work of ARI's consensus committee! Pamela had many classic signs of mercury poisoning as a young child: rashes, diarrhea, insomnia, night sweats, upper respiratory illnesses, etc.
Charlotte Mason - At 10, we transitioned to Charlotte Mason because unit studies taxed me with planning and tempted me with so many activities, miring me in details. Pamela enjoys this approach because we read lots of living books. She loves nature study, handicrafts, and music. Charlotte Mason blends books, hands-on learning in natural situations and seat-work.
Reading - Pamela had been reading picture books since age 6, but had not jumped to easy chapter books. Her memory for sight words was saturated, and she needed phonics. The programs we tried had too many rules and exceptions: she never knew what to apply when. At Last! A Reading Method for Every Child was the answer because Mary Pecci minimizes the number of rules and teaches children to focus on context for exceptions. Very quickly, Pamela dug into easy chapter books. In less than 2 years, she started reading long chapter books aloud to me!
Ambleside Online (AO) - This free, online curriculum was developed by parents wanting to follow a Charlotte Mason philosophy. Pamela has completed most of Year 1 through Year 4. She enjoys these living books, some of which are her dearest friends. Right now, we are working through a blend of Year 5 and Year 6. Check out my article about an imaginary conversation with Charlotte Mason.
Auditory Processing - Pamela once needed everything written down due to poor auditory processing. Since some of the AO books are above Pamela's reading level, I have spent the past 4 years reading aloud to Pamela for 3 to 4 hours a day. She sits next to me and tracks the words with her eyes. Now, Pamela can eavesdrop on conversations happening in another room!
Fine Motor - Pamela had many fine motor challenges. She learned cursive at 14 and practices every day for maintenance. Her print and cursive are loopy and large, common for autistics due to macrographia. More importantly, her print is legible! She types by hunt and peck and plays her Gameboy. She draws, paints in watercolors, and works in clay. She is learning to sew: check out her first project, an adorable candlewick bird! I based the pattern on one of her own drawings!
Association Method - Before trying the Association Method, Pamela's expressive language was a jumble of stock phrases, nouns, adjective, and verbs--articles, pronouns, and prepositions optional. These are signs of syntactic aphasia. Her narrations may seem stilted, but she can finally put words together. She needs a very structured, highly sequential, multi-sensory language therapy with special features: she practices reading aloud, audio-visual matching, lip-reading, auditory processing, oral narration, copywork, written narration, dictation, and generalization to master one language concept. I can now see her language improve from week to week!
Interests - Pamela has very strong "enthusiasms" that can drive us crazy. Like Because a Little Bug Went Ka-CHOO! , her interests snowball into something incredible. Pamela liked animals. Because of animals, Pamela liked Disney. Because of Disney, she liked videos. Because of videos, she learned to read. Because of reading, she studied movie credits. Because of credits, she figured out Roman numbers. Because of Roman numbers, she memorized leap years, common years, and calendars. Becuase of calendars, she memorized dates. Because of dates, she can copy and paste calendars. Because of copying and pasting, she is now interested in learning Excel! I could weave many threads like this about Pamela!
Pre-RDI Socialization - After we move, we search for opportunities to meet people. Pamela has participated in activities like co-operative classes, field trips, science fairs, musicals, choirs, Sunday School, church, youth group, 4H, swimming, YMCA, library, nature programs, etc. She knows her own limits and tells us when she needs to stay home.
Relationship Development Intervention - Last March, I started experimenting with RDI. At present, we are doing a lone-ranger RDI program with Pamela, and you can follow Pamela's progress at my blog. RDI is a collection of tools designed to improve parenting skills and to help an autistic child achieve developmental social milestones. The goal is to teach dynamic intelligence, rather than scripts and routines. I see many parallels between a Charlotte Mason philosophy and RDI and find these two styles of teaching complement each other.
I collected data from Pamela's IEP, evaluation, medical and homeschool records. From ages 2 to 10, I computed ATEC scores from ARI for a grand total and 4 subtotals: speech/language/communication, socialiability, sensory/cognitive awareness and health/physical/behavior.
The red line on each graph represents severe forms
of autism. At 2, Pamela was considered severely autistic, except in
health/physical/behavior. Lower scores are less autistic.
Pamela shed 2 points a year in communication, language, and speech, except her first year on the GF/CF diet. Her score dropped by 9 points that year!
Pamela dropped 3 points a year in sociability through age 7. From 7 on, Pamela doubled improvement to 6 points a year. I credit the change to the GF/CF diet and small doses of socialization in quiet settings.
Pamela shaved 1 point a year in sensory and cognitive awareness, except for stunning changes in the first 2 years on the diet. She lost 9 points a year from ages 6 to 8 (also her first 2 years of homeschooling)!
Pamela shed 1.5 points a year in health, physical, and behavior, except the first year of her diet when she shed 20 points. The change came from potty success, normal food portions, and greater flexibility.
The first 2 years of her diet, Pamela dropped 34 points a year. Pamela lost 7 points a year in public school and 12 points a year, factoring out the 2-year GF/CF bump. Pamela has clearly benefitted from the diet.
People are most concerned about socialization, and yet, Pamela's improvement in sociability since homeschooling has doubled that of her public school years. Homeschooling has not hindered her ability to learn social skills. In the past 10 years, Pamela has lived in many environments (apartments and houses; cities, suburbs, and rural settings; mountains, islands, and plains; north, midwest, northeast, and south). She enjoys traveling abroad, even to non-English speaking countries!
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