How Fynn taught me to teach him how to read


A few years ago grandpa gave Fynn an old drum machine. It has 100 preset beats on it. Fynn also has a skunk puppet that he's loved for years. Fynn likes to turn on a beat, and dance around real silly like with th' skunk- he was totally stimming out, laughing hysterically th' whole time. Then he decided i needed to put on th' skunk puppet while he flopped around up in his bunk bed laughing hysterically.

He calls it th' Skunk Movies. Often i thought, i'm encouraging his stimming. But it seemed to be harmless, and truth be told it was fun. Gave me a reason to dance around and be silly without feeling self-conscious about it. Like something you'd do when you're in th' house all by yourself and you know no one is looking. But that isn't all, part of what i had to do was make up a story for th' skunk to tell, and i had to rap it in time with th' beat. We did this every night for i don't know how long. Then one night fynn surprised me.

We've been homeschooling fynn since he was born. (What parent hasn't been?) For th' past few years fynn has been really into numbers. Numbers were his friends. He found a large 5 at hobby lobby one time and bought it with his allowance. That five became his friend. He played with it like other kids played with stuffed animals or dolls. He'd have conversations with 5, he'd go to 5's house. 5 would talk to his other friends, and to us. Anyway, he's always been comfortable with math, and numbers, but he's always been resistant to reading. We've really been feeling like it's time for him to learn how to read lately, and have been talking to him about all th' wonderful things he can do when he knows how to read, but we've sorta been at a loss as to how to actually go about teaching him how to read. But then two things came to us, one was our idea, and one was his.

Our idea: he watches videos on youtube. So we had him start typing in th' names of th' shows he wants to watch, or th' keywords of shows he wants to look up. We tell him how to spell them, all he does is type them in. Often times he remembers and types them in without our help. Sometimes he won't type them, so we just do it for him. No big deal, he's learning with every word he types, and we really want to go at his own pace. But his idea was a lot more fun.

So one night we get all set up for a skunk movie, lights turned off (because skunks are nocturnal), beat goin, me tryin to get into th' groove of th' beat, when fynn says, "ok skunk, teach me somethin new!" Yes! i think to myself. Ok, th' skunk says to fynn, S-K-U-N-K skunk, S-K-U-N-K skunk, repeat after me,... and he does, thinking it is so funny of course. That night we kept it real simple, spelling skunk, stunk, trunk, junk, and kerplunk, which he thought was th' funniest of all. And of course we still had to make up a story- I am a skunk and i really stunk, i live in a hollow trunk and i don't collect junk, when i jump into th' water i go kerplunk!

Th' next night we learned th' word movie. S-K-U-N-K skunk, M-O-V-I-E movie. Then we changed th' U to I on a few words. Skink, Stink, drink, think. Fynn asked me if skink was a real word. I told him yes, it's a type of lizard. So th' next day we got on the internet and looked up skinks, and learned a bit about them. Fynn really likes reptiles, amphibians, and nocturnal creatures, so that was of great interest to him.

We've been doing this for a while now, just taking it slow, keeping it silly and fun. And i want to tell you, it's not a miraculous leap in learning, just one step at a time, at his own pace. But he likes it, and it was his decision to learn. The other day, he got on th' computer and typed a paragraph about snakes. All by himself.

So, while other six year olds are already reading, i'm not worried about fynn, he's learning, and i know he's brilliant and will get there when he's ready. Besides, he's really good at other things high schoolers can't even do, and why do we all have to learn th' same things at th' same time anyway?

And one other thing this showed me clearly. When you join in your autistic loved ones stims, amazing things can happen. Just try it and see.