Jigsaw Puzzles are Hard!

As part of Logan’s at home ot program, I often have him do jigsaw puzzles.  As Nana and Papa can attest to here, he clearly does not enjoy doing them.  He feels incompetent and has some motor planning issues.
 
When he was younger, he could do the easy ones in no time flat.  You know , the one  where there are like 6 pieces in a wooden frame.  I could never understand how that didn’t translate to the bigger puzzles.  It was many years later (as in recently) that I realized that he had memorized the pattern of the pieces.  He was never putting the puzzle together per say.  He had no clue that the pieces matched and that’s why they went there.  In his perspective, they went there because that’s where they came from and he could remember that easily whereas you and I would look to see if they matched because we could not remember where every piece came from. 

 
Recently, I had him do a bigger puzzle that was simply out of his league.  Puzzles require a great deal of concentration and different hemispheres of the brain to work together all at the same time. This takes a lot of work for a typical person.  It can be nearly impossible in someone whose brain is already on high alert taking care of sensory needs and processing all the stimuli from his environment. Not that it can’t be done.  It is just a task that has to be purposefully worked on and slowly.
 
You have to start slow and give the brain many opportunities to work on new synapses.  For Logan this translates into 100 piece puzzles, search and finds and multi step directions.  All are ways to work that area of the brain.  What also needs to be remembered here is that I have to make him feel successful too.  These things are hard for him even if they are easy for his 8 year old sister.  It is a mentally draining task for him as well.  I can’t spend the day working on this and expect him to do other educational things as well.  So , we do little things each day.  I pick things that I know he can do and try to add enough variation to stretch him a bit more. All the time making absolutely sure that the interaction ends on a positive note. While he can be tired after it and need a break, I don’t want to push him to the point of sheer exhaustion. He needs to be able to continue to function at an appropriate level for the rest of the day.
 
Does it always work?  No. Sometimes I get caught up in other kids his age can do this mode and I push him too hard.  Sometimes I get distracted and don’t catch the fatigue signals that he is sending out.  Sometimes he really can do it and he is either being obstinate or his sensory stimuli is already on high alert.  The point here is that we keep working on it and recognize it as a weakness.  Who couldn’t use some work daily on their weaknesses?  I certainly know some I could work on daily.

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Penny Rogers
Just a Florida homeschooling mom attempting to navigate autismland with my teenage son with autism and the rest of my goofy family. We love Jesus and live gluten free . One kid with celiac and one gluten free for his autism. We utilize the Charlotte Mason approach mixed with lots of field trips as well as jaunts to Walt Disney World. Just sharing my adventures to make you feel better about your family and maybe learn a thing or two that helps !
Penny Rogers

Penny Rogers

Just a Florida homeschooling mom attempting to navigate autismland with my teenage son with autism and the rest of my goofy family. We love Jesus and live gluten free . One kid with celiac and one gluten free for his autism. We utilize the Charlotte Mason approach mixed with lots of field trips as well as jaunts to Walt Disney World. Just sharing my adventures to make you feel better about your family and maybe learn a thing or two that helps !

3 thoughts on “Jigsaw Puzzles are Hard!

  • November 29, 2010 at 10:40 pm
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    @SavonDuJour@xanga  Thanks for the great idea.  Perhaps he would like it better if the picture was more interesting to him.

    @Springingtiger – What a novel idea!  I had never thought that he simply didn’t have a system.  He tells me they are pointless and he sees no need to do them.  I always attributed it to they were too hard for him.  Thanks for the insight!

    Reply
  • September 22, 2010 at 4:57 pm
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    Jigsaws should not be such a problem as their solving is quite logical. 1 locate straight edges, 2 locate corners 3 construct frame then it’s just a matter of matching pieces by shape and design. If necessary the picture on the box can be used as reference – no use for baked beans. Once he has a system in place jigsaws will be easy to him.

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  • September 22, 2010 at 1:39 am
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    Something you might consider is getting a picture that your son likes, perhaps even a portrait and then making a jigsaw of it on the computer – either to move around on the screen or to print out, mount on cardboard and do. Maybe if he subject was interesting, he would be more motivated to put it together.

    Reply

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