With the school year ending, we were obviously a little concerned about Simon not getting the individual attention from experts that has clearly helped him in the last year. We would continue with his therapy at home (his therapist is awesome), but a classroom with other kids seemed like a good idea. Diana did a ton of homework and found a montessori school, and it's interesting to see him in that environment.
If you're not familiar, the montessori approach tends to be very self-directed. There is some amount of structure, sure, but kids have more of an opportunity to follow their intrinsic motivation. I mostly agree with that approach, with minor complaints, but it's certainly better than the increasing desire to force a bunch of testing and teach to the tests.
I worked from home on Monday, so when Diana went to pick him up around lunch time, I was game to go with. He was one of four kids in the class, and they were threading beads based on two dice, one for the color, the other for the shape. Aside from cheating and making the color die red some of the time, it was remarkable how well he was doing given the fine motor issues he has had.
They encouraged him to show me anything around the room that he wanted to show me. First he took me to some map puzzles. He's very into maps, and he's getting pretty solid at reading them (the large braille maps are a required stop at the Disney parks). From there he took me to these beautiful wood toy cylinders. A block of wood has cylinders with handles for him to remove, and then he pulls colored ones (red, of course) from a box. What was particularly striking is how he did them all in order, first try on each.
The feedback we're getting is that he has a good sense of spatial understanding, and that there's a lot going on in his head. It's very possible that his intelligence can be above average, but unlocking it may be challenging because he can't always physically manifest what he's thinking. My gut says this will continue to get better given his strong desire to observe the way something works for long periods of time. Splash in the growing imagination, and I see that link from brain to the physical world getting stronger.
For us as parents, the struggle is that he simply gives up and gets upset when he can't do something. Lately it has been over things that we know he can do, like put on his pants. Sometimes he won't even use two hands. This behavior is somewhat extended to his therapist, I assume because she's at home in his environment. But get him out, and he seems to dazzle the people he's with.
The last year has been remarkable for his development. As much as I stress over the financial implication, there's no question that he's learning at an increasing rate. He still seems behind in certain areas when you compare to other kids his age, but I'm hoping that the gap is shrinking. Being able to have a conversation with him, and watch him power along on his tricycle feels great, and he's clearly very proud of himself given the smiles.
The next six months will be very critical I think. I feel like he'll be ready for kindergarten, but we're not the experts. For now, I can't tell you how much I enjoy conversing with the little human we made.