One of the things that we are wondering that would help kids such as DS is "organization" :-) Let me explain - when there is a constant flow of information, their senses tend to get overwhelmed that it shuts down. For us, in a busy/stressful situation, we tend to organize and structure the situation/environment so that we can manage it. Also, even in a normal situation, when we have information coming at us, I believe, we tend to structure/slot/organize the data so that we make it easy to recall or even understand.

For example, if someone talks to me about how decisions are made my the Japanese PM after discussion at Diet, I can relate it to being a gathering of decision makers rather than to food - it is so, since I'm exposed to Indian parliament model. Also, I make some educated guess about Diet now. I dont really need to read about Diet immediately and I dont feel anymore that lack of knowledge of the word "Diet" to be stressful.

So this summer, we are looking to work with DS on some small micro-exercises.

The intent here is to train the brain to think so. So we are looking at a 5-10min  three step micro-exercises that we would work with DS.

The Step-1 is to get the brain-trained on a very physical thing that he can touch, see and can really relate to. So, for example we will take something like a table and see how is it structured. Just talk about why it is that way - why four legs, why not three legs, why flat top etc etc. At Step-1, my supposition is that his brain is tuned to see a structure/organization in something.

As step-2, we give him something physical and ask him to assemble or organize. Takes about 2-3 minute; Ask him why he organized that in the way he did and why not some other way. He typically responds to with his past experience of what he has seen or done or heard. The intent of step-2 is to take the training in step-1 that is still fresh in his mind and apply that thought process to the problem at hand. The brain is at organize mode now.

As Step-3, we want to give him an abstract data; and follow-up with some question. For example, I gave him "Obama is the president of US and lives in the White-house". The key-indices are President, US, White-house. So, my question is what does he recall when he heard that - i prompted him similarities - US with India, Obama with Pranab M, White-house with Rashtrapati Bhavan...

We are hoping with this training, based on organization/structure,  he would be able to convert data into information and then into insight. An example would be - if we tell him
Data = that tomorrow's going to be 95'F
Information = he should get that it will very hot
Insight = and that he will wear cotton clothes and  hydrate himself...

Not an easy exercise, but we hope to try this out this summer !

ps: Btw, when we go to shops or malls or restaurants, we ask him to tell us how those are organized and why so? When we went to a Indian groceries, he told us how the store was organized - the snacks on the front right, two stacks of shelf with spices, grains and condiments and the vegetables in the back and the freezer along the walls. When I asked him why not mix then, he said it would be tough to find things if the "categories" are mixed. Then I asked him, why not freezer in the middle of the shop, he said then they would need to run the wires down to the center and that would not be easy.

Loss of a friend... sad, but...

DS had a very good friend (lets call him Vish). Apparently, at school, they eat lunch together and go on walks together etc etc. However, recently, he got into a problem with him - apparently, when they were running together he bumped into him and his friend was hurt; got angry, words escalated and the friend stopped being a friend. DS was devastated - for two days he just couldn't sleep and at school, he was fighting back tears all the time; he sought permission from his teachers, stepped out of the class room and called us a couple of times, sometimes telling us bravely that he was fine. We can really feel how he was hurting and how much struggle he was going through - he said earlier I saw him so many times now, I cannot see him.. We were really sad ourselves as to why God chooses certain path... but...

The kicker is this - it was a pretend friend. And DS knew it is an imaginary friend and he is not real. In fact, he didn't talk about his predicament with anyone else (teachers, his class friends) except us (parents). So he is very well aware that friend was a pretend one. We thought of many ideas to explain, but just hit upon one. About an year ago, he had a real friend in school (lets call him George). They were pretty close, but then George started telling DS to get rid of his other friends that DS didn't like. So he stopped being friends with George. We used that to tell DS that sub-consciously he also let Vish have his space so that Vish can go make other friends...And that Vish may have gone to India to meet his family and friends and he should be back at a later date. That seemed to click with him and he settled a lot...We now are past that "date of return" and DS still seems ok.

However, we suddenly see a upsurge in his social behaviour; and he wanting to connect back to real people. When talked to couple of specialist, they believe, developmentally he could be at that phase, where he really wants to make friends and is realizing that is far more rewarding to have friends. He has become socially "present" in a group and very consciously making effort to reach out and engage in a conversation.

A few examples in the past month:
  • My cousin and his family were visiting us - during the dinner (last day before they left), on his own, he invited them to a function we are going to have in August; and expressing it was pleasure them all visiting, asking to keep in touch via skype.
  • He genuinely seemed interested in following French open tennis - not just watching without engaged, but really following the scores on the net and figuring out who is winning and who is losing (His favourite players are Federer and Nadal. He believed that knowing the scores would help him have a conversation with a friend of his (a tennis fan) in the field of his (friend's) interest.
  • In his teach social class, there was a new student from Philippines - who had baked some cookies; DS had tasted it. However, on his return, without telling us, he had mailed his "session-mate" complimenting on the taste of the cookies and how he enjoyed those and thanking him. 
And much more in the past month... We really hope this is another inflection point in his growth and hopefully it continues through the summer and during our upcoming India visit too. To us (particularly me, DF) this is yet another reiteration of what I've realized before - Every challenge is an opportunity provided my Him that our simple minds are yet to fathom !!!

Thank God !