Autumny Apple Muffins

The autumnal germs have made the rounds at school (I’ll spare the finer details) so for the last couple days Neiva has been home. While she is thriving at school and loves to be there, part of me is doing a little happy dance that she is home for extra snuggles.

Neiva adores Charlie & Lola. When she was younger, she would only communicate with us using echolalia (repeating long phrases and sentences using visual and/or auditory memory) copying Lola’s unusually unique phrases and mimicking her pretty little accent, something she still has now. (We videoed her reaction to Charlie & Lola one month shy of her 2nd birthday. You can see it here. It is just so cute. She has the cutest giggle and still laughs hysterically at this particular part of the episode. I still cant understand why it makes her laugh so much.

In this edition of Charlie & Lola (November) magazine, we spied a recipe for apple muffins. Given our free and easy day we decided to make them. They are super easy and if you are like me, not ready to give up on Autumn just yet, they make the perfect mid morning snack.

You will need:

250g self raising flour
1tsp cinnamon
100g golden caster sugar
1 tsp baking powder
125g milk (we used almond milk)
2 eggs
2 apples grated

Method

  • Heat the oven to 180c and line a tray with muffin cases
  • Mix together the flour, baking powder, cinnamon and sugar
  • In a separate bowl mix the eggs and milk
  • Pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and mix well
  • Finally add the grated apple
  • Divide equally into the cases and bake for 20-25 minutes.

They turned out so well and the kitchen smells all warm and autumnal. Its so cold outside today it was the perfect day to make them.

Now we are going to get all comfy cosy and watch Paddington.

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Hyperlexia & Reading Comprehension

Neiva’s ability to read literally came out of nowhere. I think we really started to notice when she was almost 3. We were reading a lovely book called “Ten in the Bed” when she just spontaneously started to read, word for word!


At first we put it down to her knowing the familiar song. However, in this book, the words were slightly different to the song she knew and sang so well. We continued to try different books and the outcome was always the same. She read the words with total ease!
As time went on and the more she read, the more we realised that she in fact had an extraordinary visual and auditory memory and was using this to “read”. Despite this fluent decoding of the written word, we weren’t actually sure whether she was actually understanding what she was reading. Now we were facing another issue – comprehension.

Children with hyperlexia do find it hard to understand:

  • Pronouns (they will most likely use reverse pronouns. They may also refer to themselves in the third person).
  • Inferences (not being able to read between the lines and draw conclusions)
  • Echolalia (parroting long sentences and phrases without necessarily understand its meaning)
  • Emotion in the story (being able to interprete what the person might be feeling)

Now Neiva is older, she is successfully working her way through this list. It is still an ongoing process. She still struggles with inferences, and she will use echolalia when she is anxious but she will get there in her own time and is heading in the right direction. We are so proud of how far she has come in such a short space of time.

Strategies that can help reading comprehension…

A story preview… So before we begin reading a new book, instead of jumping right into the words, we would begin by looking at the cover, the title and the pictures inside. This is great for getting her to vocalise her own ideas as to where the story is going. By going over the story briefly also gives structure and sequence, something that Neiva particularly really thrives on.

Making Connections… An important part of reading comprehension is for a child to make the connection between the text and their own experiences. So, using the story of red riding hood as an example, when talking about the forest, Neiva can relate to the sights sounds and smells of her own experiences playing in the wood. That particular experience will help connect her to the story and in turn help her to comprehend the words she is reading.

Recap… As mentioned in a previous post children with hyperlexia struggle to answer “wh” questions (where, when, why, what and who) so to ascertain how much Neiva has understood when reading something new has to be done in a different way. Instead of asking for example “why did red riding hood walk through the forest?” I would have to say “red riding hood went through the forest because…” and she would then finish that sentence.

Neiva is learning to respond to “wh” questions. Usually, we will practice these when reading a story she knows well, as she already has the answers she just needs to know how to respond to the question.

Charlie & Lola: Ep. “I slightly want to go home”

“I went to the moon” game…  This game is played by Lola and Lotta in an episode of Charlie & Lola. The first person (usually Neiva) starts by saying “I went to the moon and I brought an apple” The next person would then say “I went to the moon and I brought an apple and a mermaid” and it continues until one person can’t remember the list (usually me). I love this game because not only does it encourages a continued conversation, it also teaches her the proper use of pronouns. “I (instead of mummy/neiva) went to the moon” Finally, it encourages turn taking which is great for Neiva who gravitates to solitary play.

You can find magic wherever you look. Sit back and relax, all you need is a book

– Dr Seuss

 

 

Hyperlexia & Bedtime

Whilst routines are beneficial for any child, children with any type of sensory issue thrive on it. The world is an unpredictable place, routine and order relieve a lot of anxiety and stress, giving back some control for what is happening in the chaotic world around them.

Neiva is a child that thrives on routine.

Bedtime is a really important area that we try and stick to the same routine as much as possible. Sometimes, things crop up and we cant do anything about it but for the most part we try and keep to the same system. Here are some of the things that have worked for us:


Reward Chart
Neiva loves Charlie & Lola, in fact so much of her communication is related to an episode she has watched and memorised and fortunately for the most part, she uses it in context. For example if she is hot, she will tell us she is “completely absolutely boiling”.

In one of the monthly Charlie & Lola magazines we buy for her, there was a whole section dedicated to “Bedtime”. Included in that was a page entitled “Bedtime Reward Chart” I cut it out and framed it. We ordered a set of Charlie & Lola reusable reward stickers from eBay and we were ready to go.

The downside to taking something out of a magazine is that you cant change the order or content to adapt it to your personal routine (however, there are plenty of free printables on the internet that do this). Fortunately for us, the order and content was perfect for us. And of course, being the hyperlexic superstar that she is, she reads the instructions beautifully.

So, Neivas bedtime routine is as follows:

She has to:

  • “make my room ever so completely tidy”
  • “have a very bubbly bath” (although showers are necessary if we are pushed for time, generally the bath wins)
  • “put my pajamas on completely all by myself”
  • “brush my teeth extremely carefully”
  • “read a lovely bedtime story”

I like this routine. It works for us. Its simple and covers all bases. Some days we do have to skip the bath completely but since the rest of the routine is covered we generally get through this without much fuss.

There are days where we are back too late to start the set routine. As mentioned above when skipping bath time, as long as the majority of the list is covered we are usually ok. As long as we end with a bedtime story, bedtime is straightforward.

Bedtime Story
Reading a story to Neiva isnt a chore, its our favourite part of the day. And maybe this isnt the “thing” to do to encourage independence, but as they are only little once, we do often read her to sleep. Naturally, being a child of routine, she has her favourites. “We’re Going on a Bear Hunt” and “The Little House” are regularly read. Currently we are reading “The Velveteen Rabbit“. As far as bedtime stories go, this is such a winner on so many levels. For Neiva, who loves the outdoors and nature, she adores this book. Its so gentle and wistful and dreamily written, the perfect bedtime story. Its long enough for her to go to sleep to, but short enough to get the ending (and it is such a good ending)


Finally, there are the nights where despite all the planning and routine following, she is just out of sorts and there is nothing we can do about it. So, for those nights its a few drops of Bach Night Remedy and an extra dose of patience.

My reward? A lovely glass of red wine waiting for me downstairs.

L x

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