Thursday, March 19, 2009


 I say "obsession" for lack of a better term. Obsession, preoccupation, fixation, what ever the term, Tallen has went through different cycles of this since he was born. He will fixate on one or two things and that is all he wants to talk about or look at and it all he wants to hear about.

 Before a year old, it was letter, numbers, shapes, and colors. He didn't necessarily show a reaction when seeing or hearing these things, other than the fact that they calmed him and he would stop whatever he was doing and focus his attention. Next, it was stars and planets. Then memorizing web addresses and phone numbers from T.V.. Later it was cars, then clay, then the alphabet in different languages, then cooking. Now it is dominoes.

 I heard many suggestions from people who were supposed to know more than me, that I shouldn't encourage his obsessions but rather, I should try to move his focus onto something else. I asked myself. "Why?". I tried to put myself in his position. I thought back to the times that I couldn't sleep because I had a poem in my head, or a song, or a beadwork design, and how I couldn't sleep until I got out of bed and put it down on paper. Remembering that with Asperger's and similar disorders, things are magnified, I reasoned that it would just take him longer to to get something "out of his head" than it would the average person. I could fight it ot I could feed it. I have always chosen the latter. Even early on , when I knew something was wrong but had no idea what it was.

  As a baby, I surrounded him with all the letters and numbers and shapes and colors that his little heart desired. He never tired of looking at them. I bought him the entire alphabet and number set, with extra animal shapes, in those foam floor tiles.He knew where each and every one of the pieces were and knew instantly if one was missing, frantically searching till he found it. Of course, he never left them on the floor where they belonged, he carried them around like teddy bears. So what if people gave us funny looks because out toddler was toting a giant, green, foam letter "Q" (his favorite) everywhere! So what if they stared because he would squeal and laugh and clap when I rolled him past the check out lines at Wal-mart, over and over, letting him count, because it absolutely thrilled him to see the numbers at each register. Guess what? Eventually, he left the letters behind and moved on to something else. I assume the letter thing was part of learning to read.Once he could read ( taught himself), he calmed down a lot with the letter obsession.

  With each new obsession, I have put out the word to family and friends and they are happy to keep their eye out for items to help me"feed" it. I can't explain why but I am sure that, for whatever reason, his brain needs these things. And only after he quenches his thirst for this or that, is he able to carry on with other things. I will soon be passing down his letters to his sister. In a few days, I will be packing away over 200 ( probably closer to 300) Matchbox cars. I didn't buy all of those LOL A friend who had heard about his car obsession dug out an huge bin full of them from storage and gave them to Tallen. Those, plus others that were given to him one at a time, made for a huge collection. 

   If I can't afford to buy what he is craving, I look it up online and let him read and see lots of pictures of whatever it is. Or, I do my best to make it at home. Cooking was an easy one. Clay was easy as well. He really enjoyed making the homemade clay and adding his own colors. I also found him lots of videos online of how claymation was done etc... It can get hectic at times but I have an easier time dealing with it if I just remind myself that this is a need for him and not just a want. These days, it is dominoes. He loves lining them up in different formations and then letting them fall. We have been buying him a few here and there , as we can afford it and other folks are giving him some as well. He loves watching youtube videos of dominoes! Just like all the others, I know this fixation will pass with time. Till then, I'll be right here, on the floor with him, clapping and cheering, each time he makes a new design and knocks it down. His smile is so worth it!


Friday, March 6, 2009

Another Great Educational Freebie!

Sebran's ABC

This is a freeware. I downloaded this ages ago and have to say that I would be willing to pay for it, it's that awesome! But, to find it for free was a real blessing. Tallen loves this program. You can even create your own word list for the Hangman game!

From the site:

It's never too early for your child to become familiar with letters and numbers. Sebran's ABC's colorful pictures, pleasant music, and gentle games teach letters, numbers, simple math, and rudiments of reading.

The program teaches using either Afrikaans, Bahasa Indonesian, Breton, Catalan, Croatian, Czech, Danish, Dutch, English, Estonian, Finnish, French, German, Greek, Hungarian, Icelandic, Italian, Lithuanian, Norwegian, Polish, Portuguese, Romanian, Samoan, Slovak, Slovenian, Spanish, Turkish, Swahili or Swedish (in Swedish, the droll zebra gracing the main screen is called "sebran"). 

The six simpler exercises display four possible answers. Choose the right one and it becomes a smile; an error gets a frown and a chance to try again. The How Many? counting game introduces the numbers from 1 to 9. These are used in the Add, Subtract, and Multiply matching games, which each function at two levels of difficulty. In Pick A Picture, one of four pictures matches a word; First Letter offers four possible letters completing a word. Your child can employ the skills gained in these exercises to play Memory, Word Memory, or Hangman. Finally, the ABC Rain, Letter Rain, and 1+2 Rain games help train little fingers in using the keyboard. 

Sebran's ABC is freeware.

Have a Bored Child On Your Hands?

This was one of Tallen's favorite places to go when he first started using the computer.


This is an excellent interactive site for children and preschoolers! No reading needed to navigate. If your child can work a mouse, they'll easily have a ball here.

Sunday, March 1, 2009

There Are Some Things You Just Can't Explain

  Tallen has just pulled another all-nighter. At around 6:30 a.m., I was changing the baby's diaper and Tallen walked in the room. He said to me, " Mama, that truck slammed and the little boy came flying off. He went through the air ( he waved a hand through the air as he said this ), and hit a wire fence. He is hurt bad. That boy is 6 years old. His name is Jos-Hoo-Ah." He had trouble saying the name. I realized he was trying to pronounce "Joshua". It was as if he was seeing the name written in front of him and was sounding it out. I asked, "How do you know this?", but he said nothing more and went back to playing with his dominoes. So I am left confused and a little creeped out. This has happened before...

  The one incident that is forever burned in all of our minds, happened when Tallen was 3 years old, after he had finally started talking to all of us. Hubs, myself, and all of the other kids, including Renni, were sitting in the living room. Tallen came out of his room carrying a Lego structure he had just made. It was made up of 2 tall, nearly identical structures, both with holes near the top, and sitting side-by-side on the same base. He handed it to me and said, "I made towers." I handed the piece to my husband and said, " Look, Daddy, Tallen made buildings!" My husband said, " Goodness, look at these skyscrapers. You did a good job!" Tallen seemed annoyed and took the piece from his father's hand, put it back in my hand, and said, "I did not make skyscrapers! They're towers! What he said next left left all of us silent and covered in goosebumps... "There is a fire. I can't move.(He placed his hand on his his forehead) My head hurts. I am covered in red applesauce. Help me!" I don't even have to tell you what horrible day this made all of us flash back to...

  He used to talk to an unseen man named George. Often he would laugh hysterically at something/someone  we could not see. Almost like someone were there in front of him making silly faces or something. He hasn't mentioned George for a long time now.

  Another strange thing he does... Renni ( his adult sister) owns 2 cars. A white one and a green one. More times than I can even count, he has pulled a chair to the picture window in the dining room and stood in it, staring up the driveway. When I ask what he is doing, he will either say, "Renni is coming in the white car." or "Renni is coming in the green car." I used to go over and look out the window myself and tell him that no, Renni was not coming down the driveway or that his sister was off doing this or that and wouldn't be visiting that day. But it never failed, if he said she was coming in a certain car, about 10 minutes later, Renni would show up, in the car he had predicted. These days, if he tells me someone is on their way, I listen...

  If you have a special needs child and have experienced similar events, I would love to hear from you. Even if you don't have a child with special needs, I would love to hear your take on this.