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Dillo is obsessed with paper airplanes lately; the house is littered with them.  He makes them at afterschool, with A., S.'s twin, who is in second grade (in Casper's class) and working on a paper airplane science fair project in the Spectrum class.  Amusingly, A. and Dillo could be brothers; they have a very similar look.  Dillo is also obsessed with a new PBS show called Wild Kratts, a mostly-cartoon show about brothers who interact with wild, usually endangered, animals.  He wants to watch it constantly.

I worked a split shift yesterday and picked Dillo up at 2:30 as a treat. We scootered home (after scootering to school that morning with an inch of snow on the ground, so pretty!) and built a lego (duplo) garage, originally intended for his matchbox cars, but which in the event was used for jumping frogs.  We also changed out the toilet seat upstairs, and he turned the old seat into a rocket for his frogs. I love the way he says "blast-es off".

He remains unhappy with school, especially after school, which is boring for him. His ideal world would involve staying home with me and playing with me and watching Wild Kratts, so. He's pretty much always been like this.  They have started doing a little bit of reading group with part of his class, and he likes to play Starfall on my computer, so maybe he will start reading and have that outlet at school.

Casper has been a little fragile emotionally of late, and I emailed the counselor again and she replied but I am not sure she's met with Casper yet; she said she's been incredibly busy.  When there are 3 children at the school who've had parents murdered in the last 6 weeks, and many children living in poverty, the counselor is probably right to make the neurotic and depressive tendencies of an upper-middle class girl with neurotic depressive parents a second-tier priority - if Casper has a crisis, we have at least some of the tools to deal with it ourselves.  We've tried.

Casper's gotten a space - apparently these are in much demand and she's been on a wait list for it - with a program called Fast ForWord, a computer-based program for helping struggling readers. I've read the Wikipedia page and some of the product's marketing materials, and am somewhat cynical.  (Well, what else is new.)  It says it focuses on phoneme awareness and is especially useful for students with auditory processing disorders.  Casper does have troubles with phonemes, but she certainly does not match up with the symptoms for auditory processing problems, which include slowness to talk and trouble with vocabulary and comprehension.  It seems like auditory processing is a fad diagnosis for reading troubles right now, lined up with the fads of ADHD, dyslexia, etc.  I hesitate to get Casper formally evaluated (independently; they have done some evaluation at school apparently, which got her recommended for Fast ForWord, but we have not heard the results) and diagnosed with something because I am so cynical about the faddiness of diagnoses; on the other hand, I do feel like the right help could get her over a hump and reading well.  mr. flea is wary of diagnoses because of stigma.

Casper hates Fast ForWord (yesterday was the first day) because she got pulled out of class and missed making shadow puppets; at least she isn't feeling stigmatized?  There was torrential weeping about this, though.  I tried to present the program as a positive - she's improved so much in her reading that she's ready for an intensive program to jump-start her and get her improving fast, so she can read hard long books all by herself.  She is improving; she notices words on signs and reads them out often now.  I do think about whether we would even be worrying about her reading if she were in 1st grade instead of second.  And I confess that although I don't know a great deal about the science, such as it is, of literacy acquisition, Casper is a little confounding.  She does write some letters backwards; her handwriting is horrible (though if she tries it is fine); her spelling is awful, even with words she has known for ages; she stumbles over very easy very common words when reading sometimes (was, there, could) and yet manages quite difficult words with ease; her reading ability fluctuates extremely based on mood.  If anything, I think she has visual processing issues with letters; she is a very visual (picture) focussed person, and I wonder if Chinese or another pictographic language would have come easily.

Any suggestions for quality readings about literacy acquisition would be appreciated.
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