Friday, December 08, 2006

The Slowest Miracle Ever

I have kept Pamela's social stories (I write a couple a year) in her big speech therapy book. The Association Method encourages teachers to keep a "child's book" which contains the stories the child has been reading to learn syntax. Pamela's book, which she calls the black book, has every story I have made since the beginning of school last year. When we thumb through it, I can see the progress she has made:

Repetitive sentences/questions (page 13) with the most basic syntax (a/an/some, want(s), see(s), have/has, I/name/noun as a subject, name/noun as an object, who/what)

Animal stories (page 13) that focus on animals (names, numbers, body parts, adjectives, can paired with verbs, not, is covered with, how many/what kind of/does/can questions)

Inanimate object stories (page 14) that cover things (it, objects and their parts, clothing, more adjectives)

Personal description stories (page 14) that describe people (pronouns he/she/they, his/her/their, I/my, you/your, is/are/am, does/do not have any).

This week Pamela is learning to use they/their in sentences and next week will be in questions. The method alternates between teaching syntax in a sentence and then in appropriate questions for that sentence. So after they/their, Pamela will learn to use I am/my in sentences and you/your in questions. Then we will finally move onto prepositions, round-up stories for prepositions, and present progressive language to finish the second unit of language. Pamela has struggled with present progress for years: she tends to say, "A dog is bark" or "A dog barking." If the association method clears up this issue, which has confused Pamela for years, it will be a true miracle.

I want to mention one thing about the notebook. Pamela loves going through old homeschool files but has a tendency to rip through the pages. Rather than apply three hole reinforcements per page, I usually file papers into two-pocket fastener folders. Plastic folders are more durable and have passed the test of time and use. Since Pamela's therapy book gets the most use of all, I splurged on sheet protectors and sturdy three-ringed notebook, and it too has passed the "Pamela" test.

Here is a sample of one of five stories from this week. Notice that I color-coded the new patterns to catch her eye as suggested in the Association Method Manual:

Today is October 31, 2006.
It is Halloween.
Children can dress up.
They are
Pamela and David.
They are
They want
They have
costumes are funny.
costumes are homemade.
bags are empty.
They do
not have any candy.
They are
can walk.
Pamela is a cat.
She has white fur and a pink nose.
Her whiskers are long.
She has an orange pumpkin bag.
David is a hippie.
His hair is long and black.
His T-shirt is colorful.
He can carry a clipboard and paper.
He does not have any pumpkin bag.
People can sign his paper.
can supply candy.
Pamela and David have candy.
They do
not have any vegetables.
can eat.
candy is delicious.

Are you asleep yet? I agree--this is very tedious. Unfortunately, Pamela must read, hear, repeat, say without prompting, copy, write without prompting, and write from dictation syntax, one structure at a time. Occasionally, I can cover two structures a week when related to a previous structure. Since Pamela already knows he/his and she/her, she had no problem distinguishing they/their. However, if we add too much new syntax at one time, she gets it all muddled up because syntax does not come naturally to her. It only comes by rote through multi-sensory channels!


Anonymous said...

I absolutely love this post! Not boring at all! How did you learn the association method? Is there a book? Did you take a class? How has the gfcf diet helped? Thank you for this blog! What a treasured resource you are to me. Diane

walking said...

My in-laws told us about a Good Morning America broadcast that featured the Association Method, but I was not able to see it! So, I searched online and found some interesting links:

First Unit of Language We skipped this unit because Pamela had already mastered reading, phonics, and recognizing letter/sounds. Pamela is in the second unit where you focus on repetitive questions and sentences, a variety of stories, adjectives, pronouns, prepositions, and present progressive verbs, etc. Tense is hit harder in the third unit.

Dubard has a course for professionals. I am not sure if they are open to parents, but the conference on dyslexia is open to parents (Pamela does not have dyslexia; she appears to have syntactic aphasia). I joined their task force, and everytime I have attended their audio conferences the people on the other end of the line were very welcoming. They never questioned me about being a homeschooler and having never taken the course.

Teaching Materials Since we skipped the first unit, we just bought the book Teaching Language Deficient Children pictured here. The only teaching material I bought was the book, which I must have read about five times to absorb the wealth of information and nuances. I did order it via Interlibrary Loan first because I wanted to be sure it had potential before plopping down $70 for a book! Having a digital camera and color printer and looking for images at Google can replace the need for picture cards in the second unit and beyond.

The Magnolia School This school uses the Association Method and has a brief

Pennsylvania Training and Technical Assistance This summary of a presentation by Anne Sullivan is the most detailed explanation on line. The book has much more information and sample stories.

The Association Method is probably too tedious to spectrum children who are catching on to language through programs like Teach Me Language. Pamela could not simply memorize a bunch of grammatically unrelated language patterns. She really needed the tediously organized structure of the Association Method. Jumping around from one sentence/question structure to another is very hard for her unless she has mastered them. Aphasic kids are terrible "guessers" and tend to pick the wrong word for the occasion, skip little words, confuse endings, etc. She needs to master one sentence/question structure before moving onto another. The Association Method lays down simple, but versatile, repetitive sentences and questions, very slowly, one at a time,
multisensory not just visual cues and auditory drills.

The gfcf diet helped in many ways: Pamela was potty trained very quickly after starting the diet (bladder took two weeks, bowel took two months). Spontaneous language and pretend play emerged (without me actively teaching it) within a few months of starting the diet. She had greater awareness of her environment and could make more connections on her own. If she ate the wrong food, she would forget her math skills for about three days--her abstract thinking skills were shot by these foods!