Both Pamela and David are concrete thinkers. That means they do much better with practical, specific things: what they can see or touch (or at least, imagine seeing or touching). When David was younger, I worried about how he would fare in high school, which requires more abstract thinking. I started breathing easier last year when the light bulb turned on, and David started getting easy A's on his Math-U-See Algebra I tests. He continues to do well in Geometry, even with the logical aspects of it. While his every day speaking and writing skills are fine, he struggled with grammar (parts of speech and their ilk) until this year! After a couple of choppy lessons to get his head into it, David is doing well with the exercises in Our Mother Tongue. But, that is not the most exciting thing!
Since David is highly random, I did not do much with outlining until this year. David is reading Part I of How to Read a Book this year and will finish it up by twelfth grade. Since this book requires slow reading and abstract thinking, I decided to slow him down by having him outline his readings, instead of doing a typical narration. We used the examples of both topical and sentence outlines described in Handbook of Grammar and Composition. I envisioned major conflicts over having to do a task requiring so much logical and sequential thinking. By week four, David started getting ahead of schedule. He outlines quite methodically, so I have complimented him on his work. This week, I told him to stop when he gets to the end of Part I and he said, "You mean we're not going to finish the book? I like outlining." Well, knock me over with a feather!
Pamela is making strides in sharing what she thinks. Last month, she told me how she broke her arm ten years ago (trying to "skate" on the wet bathroom floor). She also told me that David was the real cheese thief six years ago. Earlier today, she looked at me and said, "I'll be right back!" when she left the kitchen. She did not have to tell me that nor did she do it in stim mode.
Yesterday, while we were baking a dump cake for a BBQ party, Pamela was very natural in sharing her observations. "It's stuck" when she could not open cans with tabs and "It's ready" after the stove beeped to tell us that the temperature was right. At one point, she got giggly and I asked her, "What's so funny?" She said, "I'm thinking about You-Tube" (her favorite clips are about broken video tapes, VCRs, and DVD players). When she was retrieving melted butter in a hot measuring cup from the microwave, I offered to get it for her. She told me very firmly, "No, I'll do it!" (the same thing she said the other day when I offered to help her open a new bottle of catsup). The wonderful thing about all of these statements is that she is willingly sharing what she thinks, which is something she did not do much six months ago.