Wednesday, January 20, 2010

I think she needs an upgrade

You probably are aware that one our daughters has Asperger Syndrome, a mild form of autism. It predominantly effects social abilities in her case, but the way her mind works in general is sometimes different from the way the general population works. I'm not sure that's a bad thing! LOL! Most autistic people have an IQ that often far exceeds their performance ability. The "classic" autistic person is the character Dustin Hoffman played in Rainman. In our case, I really believe it's a blessing that Bethany's IQ, while a tad above the "normal" range, isn't anywhere near genius or almost genius level. In fact, it is just as I said, a tad above normal. I think that helps ground her in some aspects. In any case, this high IQ generally shows itself in autistic people in one or two areas. In Asperger's Syndrome people, especially with males, it shows up often in science, math, or now days the computer/engineering areas. Many believe that Bill Gates could have Asperger Syndrome.

Bethany doesn't work quite that way, but there is a connection to those areas. When we first had her tested, the doctors thought she didn't have AS because she didn't read about or ramble on about a certain subject. What she DID was draw and sing and play the piano by ear. She played Joy to the World at 3. Not a prodigy type version, but it was definitely Joy to the World. She sings all the time. Did I mention that verbal autistic people (those who can speak) tend to say things over and over....and over....and over....and over.....? She would sing the same song, or part of a song over and over....and over. She still does until Bossy Britches, um, I mean her sister, gets irritated. Then World War 3 begins, and that's about where "normal" finally fits into my world, but I'll save that for another day. Bethany also drew all the time on any surface. You know some kids draw on the walls or on furniture. I understand my brother painted his room as a toddler with a medium that came from his diaper. Just sayin'. Thankfully Bethany used crayons and pencils and markers, and oh, yes, Sharpies. Mmmm-hmmm. The permanent kind. No stick figures. She drew a full size car seat on the inside of our front door. With a Sharpie. A black one. Funny, when we went to Michaels looking for Goo-Gone the lady immediately asked who the artist was.

She's continued to love to sing and play the keyboard by ear (and is not really willing to learn to read music) and draw. She's added to the art category 3-D art. She's the princess of collage (or you might read that "she saves all this junk & finds a way to use it or leaves it all over her room and the craft room and we have to go behind her & throw things away before she rescues them from the trash" phew). Again, it's not the "prodigy" type art. We have a friend who has an amazingly gifted artist who is only 13 (Bethany's age). She has the makings of an art scholarship recipient. Bethany draws WAY better than any of us in the family can draw & probably a lot better than many 13 year olds, but not "let's put it in the museum" type art. Hmmmm, if they had a recycled art museum she COULD be in that.

Like most Aspies, she has a knack for the computer. The girls have had a computer in their room (with all kid friendly stuff on it) for several years. You see, like this child, the father brings home stray mice. You know, the kind with the LONG tails, and all the housing and toys they need. I'm talking computer junkyard right here in our house. I don't complain because that's how we've managed to get the computers we have. Bethany also has a fascination with computers. In 2008, she also learned about digital movie making in her Girl Scout troop. She spent her Christmas money in 2008 on a little digital movie camera. It takes videos that are only clear on a tiny screen, but she has had a blast making those. Recently, Phil showed her Windows Movie Maker. He showed her a little bit about how to use it, but he wasn't as familiar with it, so he just left it for her to play around with. She figured it out and has put some of her videos to music, put them into slow motion, put still pics into videos and more. It's been so much fun to watch those and see this new talent blooming.

Just this week, she decided to try her hand at making a "movie" using still pictures in different stages of movement, the way an animated film works. Her first one used a bouncing ball. She even adds a title and credits at the end. She just finished one with cats on it. She loves cats, but we don't encourage her in that area since I'm allergic & Phil just isn't a cat person. (No offense to my cat loving friends!) As I watched her making this "movie" I thought, "She's going to an awful lot of work and I know she could do this more easily." She would save a picture, then put a piece of paper up to the screen to mark the location, and start a new picture. I was sure she could just save a frame, alter it and then save it as a different name. That is, until I saw her program. She was using "Paint" that comes on Windows computers. It's VERY basic. It's a cute little program, but it has very limited features. I told her to come to my computer where I have Photoshop Elements (thank goodness for E-bay prices!). Honestly, I am still confused on Photoshop & need a "Photoshop for Dummies" book, but I thought I could show her some things. I tried. I managed to show her enough to pique her interest.

When Phil got home I told him, "She has to have a different program." The best part of homeschooling (well, I have a lot of favorite parts) besides sleeping in, is being able to tailor an education to fit your child's needs. I've always wanted to encourage her in the arts because that is where her strong points are. Now that we see her leaning towards computer imaging, at age 13, I think it is a good time to really start helping her with that. He just installed a program a friend sent, so we shall see how she does. Now, if we can just figure it out maybe we can show you some of her movies soon!


April Carroll said...

I have the Photoshop for Dummies book - it doesn't help! LOL

Anonymous said...

I love your Bethany stories.
I sure hope the new program helps!