Perhaps you are unaware that Nick is severely challenged. He does not speak, although he can communicate. He cannot write but he is learning to read. He is unable to ride a tricycle but he can find a video clip on my phone without any trouble at all. Over the years his anxiety has prevented us from leading a normal family life. In fact it still does! However, we have come to terms with our way of life and we choose to move forward.
I have also been going through my video archives (do you think that all of this reminiscing is a middle age thing?!!). Anyhow... I found some video footage of Nick that was taken in May 2007. It was a big *wow* for me because I can see how far my boy has come since then.
Prior to the first video clip below, we had been following a typical path. Nick was having regular Speech and Language Therapy, Occupational Therapy, Physiotherapy and ABA. He attended school with a facilitator and he also had a private tutor in the afternoons. Oh, and don't forget the drugs (for him and me!) Yep, it all cost a pretty penny!
What was I doing while all of this was going on? Well, my major role was to be Nick's carer and also his taxi driver! Believe me, it was not a lot of fun! Eventually I came to realise that something wasn't quite right with this picture. Nick was having loads of therapy AND I wasn't involved. In fact, I couldn't do a darn thing with him, except read him stories!
A few months before the first video clip was taken (May 2007), I started hearing talk of RDI and it rang a few bells for me! To cut a very long story short, we decided to have Nick assessed by an RDI consultant. The following video clip is part of that assessment. I chose this clip to show you (in all of its negativity!) because this is how Nick was back then. If you think he was stressed here, you should see how he was for me! Not good!!!
After the initial assessment, a plan was put in place for us. Sadly, after a few months, we discontinued with our consultant and the Connections Centre.... this was back in the days when we didn't have a good internet service blah blah blah.... Any video footage that we took would have to be burnt to a DVD and then *posted* by snail mail to the USA! That didn't work for us! Therefore, we just bumbled along with what we knew and I kept up to date with my reading.
In 2010, we decided that the time was right to re-establish our relationship with RDI. The following two activities were filmed as part of our assessment for an RDI consultant in the USA.
By the time I got to take this next bit of footage (October 2010), we were doing well with our *non verbal* communication. Nick understood that he needed to reference me for information. We could go to the supermarket and easily communicate to each other from afar. However, we still weren't quite on the right track. You can see from this clip that Nick still gets very anxious when he feels under pressure. To be honest, I also wasn't sure what I was doing! Although I was aware of using declarative language, I spent too much time being *non verbal*! I wasn't able to *get into the groove* of being declarative! :-)
Both clips show Nick's anxiety and his desire to leave. Both clips show how I am expecting Nick to *read my mind* and to know what to do. Which of course he couldn't do! The clips also show that I am unsure on how to define our roles and set up regulatory patterns. Each activity went on for too long and frankly, there isn't really any real engagement between us! I could analyse both clips until the cows come home.... but this post is getting a bit long and I still have a way to go!!! :)
This final video clip was taken a couple of weeks ago. It is not the best clip that I have of us interacting; however, I do think that it is a good example of my style of parenting and Nick's involvement in what we are doing. Nick's role was to stir the sauce at the same time as I poured the milk. This is quite a difficult concept for him so I took it slowly. Due to his motor planning difficulties he also battles to stir!
I also want to quickly spotlight a few time codes for the video clip... just to give you an idea of what stands out for me!
0.15: Nick went to pick up the milk. I thought this was important to note because it shows that he is aware of the pattern and that he realises that he has a role in the interaction!
From 0.38: Nick went a bit vague.... so I paused and waited for him! Important to make note of this because it showed that I was taking my time and just waiting for Nick to reconnect.
2.00: I spotlighted that Nick was mixing and I was pouring... I was making a point of reminding Nick what we were doing.... highlighting our roles!
2.11: Nick indicated that he wanted to leave but I had already decided that I was going to add a little challenge... I wanted him to place the jug in the microwave!
2.29: I went to the microwave and waited..... AND Nick picked up the jug and put it into the microwave!! YAY :-)
The activities I do with Nick are always about engaging with each other. The activity is the *prop* which lends itself to creating roles, patterns and opportunities for interaction. We take tiny steps and as Nick becomes competent and confident with something new... then we take one more tiny step!
Yesterday, I had to take Nick to puppy training with me. We rocked up to a park that he has never been to before. His role was to carry a camp chair down a long path and then a steep hill. I got caught up getting the dog out of the car and Nick went ahead of me. I knew that I couldn't catch up with him, so I watched to see what happened next. He walked towards the dog trainer, saw a log.. put down the chair and sat on the log. There was no anxiety to be seen. He was relaxed and totally blasé about the whole experience! HUGE!