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I have dedicated my reading method '' I learn well with you... Jappy! '' to Martine Mc Kale, an autistic girl with whom I had the pleasure of working with as a teacher assistant at St. Anthoine School in Tecumseh Ontario from 1998 to 1999. Martine was then four years old.

Martine was severely affected by autism (pervasive developmental disorder) and:

-She had a verbal communication disorder; it was only echolalia. (occasionally she repeated what she meant)
She socialization disorders and could not interact with others.
-She had panic attacks without one does not know why.
-She did not answer to the call of her name.
-She hardly established eye contact.
-She preferred to isolate herself.
-She resisted to the routine changes.
-She put objects in their mouths and sometimes swallowed them,  rocks, chewing gum found on the floor, pieces of glass, plastic or plaster, buttons ...
-She would often stop and gaze watch the movement of the leaves on the trees and seemed to live in her own little world and stopped in her imagination. 



On the first day of school, her mother accompanied Martine. Upon entering the classroom Martine runs to hide under a table. I try to pick her up. Her mother told me not to approach too closely and that I could not sit too close to her either. She was tempermental and almost savage & wild. At this time, I was wondering to myself how I was going to work with a child who would not look me in the eyes.


I did my best to approach it gradually. As it did not concern me, I tried to contact her, even singing. I sought out every means I could to find a way to catch her attention. 


To entertain her I would bring her my beautiful silk scarf  that was bright & colorful. I watched her fly by making large circles in the courtyard of the school. Very lightly, she followed the direction of the wind, she amused herself by watching the scarf float with the wind and I felt happy admiring her inocence and joyfulness.

When Martine was frightened and refused to enter a room, I would use marbles and roll them in the direction we wanted her to go and would follow right away. One day Martine abruptly refused to approach the sink. She was afraid of running water. I place the marbles in the sink and her fear faded away at the same time.


Every day there was something new. She loved playing on the computer and playing mom with a doll that she would feed and mother.  I was definitelt using my out of the box thinking skills  toward interesting crafts ideas, puzzles, coloring, cutting. I also was training to cleanliness and its natural needs.


One day in October, I hung a photo of Martine and I on the wall and then pointed at her on the photo.  She then points at me right away and sais, 'Bouchard.' ' It was the first time Martine spoke rationally after a visual stimulus.


When she did not behave well, I would make her sit on a small chair.  She seemed to understand that it was her punishment. She had to count to ten, thus she learned to count. I taught her to call her mother's phone number (French speaking) to whom she repeated the same phrases regularly. (Her father is English) I made her write his name and age on the blackboard every day, she learned to do it alone.

I used to say a little prayer out loud before meals and during the second year, Martine would repeat the prayer on her own and would end it with the sign of the cross. It was real progress even if it was recited abruptly. Thereafter, any time she was happy or knew she did something good she would applauded. Overall it was her way of saying 'Congratulations!' 'Then she pulled her chair to sit and eat.


As time went on we continued to work on her fine motor skills and how to learn the intellectual and cognitive work, I would write with her words on the blackboard, holding her hand. I read the words and repeated them! (echolalia!). It was fascinating! Martine surprised everyone with his progress and his 'exploits'. At some point, I realized that she could learn more than simple words. Like, for three years, I continued writing my method of reading: ''! I learn well with you '', so I decided to experiment with Martine.
One day, I had the great surprise to hear him read a series of words that I had written in my computer with color icons, I had just received Generator, my designers. Everyone around her was amazed. Martine applauding, smiling

I have a video of Martine reading when she was only five years. You can watch the video on this site. Martine now 17 years old and can read well enough. You can see for yourself by watching the short video also on this site. This video was recently produced in my small school with my little son Guillaume Lavoie.
Martine has its symbol. One can see in the phoneme sound oeur inside the letter '' O '' in a little red heart. You will see when you read the words heart, sister, choir ... in words where the letter '' O '' is silent ... a bit like the beautiful Martine, one could say did not speak, since it not speak for itself.
Martine his poem I composed as I worked with it. This poem is found a little further down in this tab and in each of books and reading books.

Martine has a story book entitled '' Martine is a real nice little heart autistic child! '' He talks about his journey to school, his phobias and successes. The sale of his book personally help Martine and the cause of autism. You can purchase this book by going to the store tab. You can then better understand the children and their parents who must deal with the harsh reality of autism.

Martine has a verse in the song: '' On the pages of my notebook. '' It says we see it in a little heart and we like him as a little sister.

As there often to Kindergarten or garden, a designated child to be the 'little heart of the Day', found the photo of Martine on a doily for the 'little heart of the Day'. The 'little heart of the Day' will include his or her name will be erased, and replaced by another. You can get this by going to the mat Store tab.

Martine does not always look at me, but when she dared to, I felt immense happiness she had such beautiful eyes!
I wish I could continue teaching Martine. Unfortunately, I had to quit my job for health reasons. It was impossible to return to work after suffering three coronary bypass surgery in 2000.

I can say in conclusion that I had a lot of fun working with her. It was a positive experience for me.

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