Saturday, November 21, 2009


The J-Man put together a fifty piece puzzle today.

Fifty pieces.

He turns 3 in two months.

Fifty pieces!?!?

Is that normal? To be honest, ever since we started down this strange road, I have no idea what is normal anymore. To me, it just seems like 3 year old child shouldn't be able to do a 50 piece puzzle. But he does. He sits and works on it with way more patience than I would have now!

I am reading a book by Temple Grandin called Thinking in Pictures. For those of you unfamiliar with Dr. Grandin, she is an amazing woman and probably the most accomplished and well-known person with autism in the world. She has her doctorate in Animal Science and has written several books on both autism and animal behavior (no, not in the same book!). She didn't speak until she was 3 1/2 years old, and yet through her own determination and that of her family has reached levels of functioning far surpassing what anyone would have dreamed of in her generation.

In her book.... of which I must admit I am only 30 pages into... she is talking about how she (and presumably many other people with autism) are highly visual learners. In essence, she thinks in pictures, not words. So, that internal dialog that goes on in your head, or my head.... that is not how she thinks. She sees things in her head, three dimensionally, and creates associations based of memories of pictures.

One of the things she mentions is that many people with autism have this level of visual-spacial ability. Often... and I know you saw this coming... they are highly artistic or interested in design, and guess what.... they tend to be good at puzzles.

Now, while I could take this as a sign that the J-Man truly has autism, I am not really ready to go there yet. His social nature is starting to peek out, and I think we might start to see it blossom in the months to come. But, I am willing to say that undoubtedly he is a visual learner. To my core I know it. As I watch him solve the problems of a puzzle, I marvel at how focused and persistent he can be.... so very different than when the task involves language or auditory input.

The puzzle for me, now, is to find a way to harness this ability.

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