Life is not easy. Especially when you are in a family of invisible illnesses and disabilities. It can be serious, funny and downright hard! But we make it. Just like everyone else. We just do it in a different style.

Saturday, March 7, 2009

Asperger's and the SAT/ACT Test

How I got here, I don't even know.

From a child that rocked and flapped and disappeared into his own world to a junior in high school, who is facing the stiffest tests in any young person's life. Don't ask me how I got here. One day at a time doesn't seem to do it justice. And I haven't gone crazy and neither has he. Don't say there aren't miracles.

I don't know any numbers and I am too tired to do the research, but how many children with Asperger's take their SATs or the ACTs? I am not talking about gifted Aspies. I am the mother of the run-of-the-mill child with average intelligence according to all the tests he's taken, but with definite below-average verbal skills. I won't parade the numbers in front of you, but he was diagnosed with Receptive/Expressive Speech Disorder since he was in elementary school. His recent testing put his reading comprehension age around 8 years old. And yet, his word recognition age is around 21 years old. Should he even attempt the SAT with a vacillating scores like that? He is pulling a C in Math and we have struggled to keep those grades in the high C range. It just seemed too far out there.

I know this is a side topic, but he is always talking outside the box,
creating new words and positively amazing us all with his quirky insights.I have talked/tweeted with other mothers who tell me great stories. I still remember a child grunting, whistling and humming.but now, he loves to create words that aren't in the dictionary (he knows this, because he loves to read the dictionary!). One word that family and friends have adopted is "linner." Linner is the comparative word for brunch. Brunch = breakfast and lunch. Linner = lunch and dinner. Linner is like a very late brunch or early supper. I told him people used to use the word supper, but he just replied, No, Mom, that word is used just like dinner now, so we need a new word." Can't argue with that one, so we use linner.

Well, back to the topic at hand; here we are in his junior year, and everyone is talking college. "College!?! What!!?!!," as I gasp and sputter. Yes, the school and this crazy program I signed him up for (since we don't get therapy at all, I sign him up for every free program I can get my hands on. He has been in AVID, Education Talent Search,etc) are sending home reams of paper and thick, glossy books entitled "The 411 on College."

I signed him up for the SAT. Then I took a look at the SAT. Kinda backwards, I know, but a lot is going on in our house lately. It hit me real hard: there is an essay requirement on the SAT. ESSAY. 8 yr. old comprehension. Okay, that's not good.

I did make a half-hearted attempt to search the library and online for help, but quickly realized that this test was just not going to happen.The study guides were thick, newsprint looking monstrosities. The tapes had suspiciously vanished. Dead end. Then, I headed online. YouTube (which, by the way, my son loves at the moment) had videos, but I couldn't get into any of them. Maybe I am wrong, and if someone finds a great one, let me know. Nothing moved me at all. It didn't look like this was going to happen. At least, not by May 13th (remember, like a dope, I scheduled before the due diligence)

My son has become very resilient over the years. We have no more meltdowns, we have no more stiff as a board "honey, are you there?" episodes. But, remembering my SAT almost through me into a panic and I remember scoring very high. I just couldn't do this to him. So, I decided that he would take the ACT. What is the difference?

SATs test critical thinking, logic and reasoning, where the ACT focuses more on what have you learned scholastically. I don't think I need to tell you that they really don't want my son to draw conclusions or make critical thinking analyses. They would never believe their eyes. The kind of leaps and connections he makes here at home are out of this world. But, still the problem was preparation. Even with a total multiple choice test with no essay, he needed prep.

And then, I found it. E-Prep. I fell in love. Here was a site that looked like it was MADE for us. Video run instruction. The ability to stop videos at any time. An entire prep course in video, showing, not just telling. I am in love.

I don't do reviews very often, and this is not really one either. Check the site out, but this is the answer for BOTH my children. For the oldest, who has a fantastic memory, he will quickly remember the video instructions. For my young son, who has a damaged memory system, the moving visuals that can be repeated are perfect in order to increase retention and recall. Unlike static words or audio, videos always seem to ease learning and remembering for him.

The downside? Yes, there is one. The course is not free. But they do give options that run from $69.00 to $249.00. Somehow, some way, I will scrounge up the money for one of the courses in the middle. Hopefully, it will be enough to give him a good grade. And, then we can start discussing what he would like to study and what he would like to be.

Now, that folks, is a WHOLE other post. Must tell you about the fun we are having getting him to volunteer and find a job.

Until next time, take care.