We have been a bit slack this week. Let's face it, who wants to put in the extra effort of *doing stuff* when feeling awful! It is now the weekend and we are nearly ready to get back on track with our latest RDI assignment. For the next couple of days I just want to spend time easing Nick back into some nice co-regulatory activities and throw him a little curve ball here and there for that extra challenge.
Reminder: Two years ago he would refuse to interact with me in any way at all, unless it was to do something that he wanted me to do!
Back to the oranges!
I have had a small bag of oranges sitting on the kitchen counter for the last few days. Bit of an experiment really..... as in, who would put them away!! In the end I could take it no more and decided to take advantage of the opportunity and write up a framework plan using the oranges as an activity for a planned engagement.
As in all interactions with Nick, I ensure that we both have a role to play. There are a variety of role actions to choose from and I decided on a contingency pattern ~ this is where I take a turn and then Nick takes a different turn. Therefore, for this particular framework, I would take an orange out of the bag and then hand it to Nick. He would then put the orange into the fridge.
My goal was to add some variations to this established co-regulatory pattern. Firstly, I would pass him a few oranges, one by one. Then I would throw him a few oranges, one by one (throw the oranges towards him and then add variations by throwing up, right and left). I also planned to give him the empty bag and observe to see what he would do with it. The challenge for Nick was to adjust to the changes in variation.
Reminder: Two years ago, it was extremely difficult for Nick to participate in any set up activity that also involved me. He would get very stressed if he felt that any demand was being placed on him. (Note: when we first started with planned engagements, each activity lasted for only a few seconds). Nowadays, time is not such a big issue, although I am very aware of how far I can challenge him, taking into account the *edge plus one* concept.
Another important factor to consider is making sure that there are no distractions. This means turning off all electronics and/or removing interests that do not involve other people. In this case, it means turning off the stereo, sending the dogs outside and asking Thomas to give us some space.
When writing up the framework, I also put thought into establishing some activity limits. When would I end the engagement? If Nick became stressed, what would I do? Should he indicate that he had had enough, how would I react? Would I just push him that one little extra step so that the activity was finished on my terms, not his? In this case I felt confident that Nick would cope with the activity, even with the extra challenges. Therefore, I decided to end the activity after the bag had been disposed of. I also decided that should Nick show signs of going beyond his level of competence, I would smile my way through any protesting and move on for a couple more *seconds* and then end the activity.
In all of my interactions with Nick, I am mindful about my communication methods and giving him the opportunity to think for himself. When writing up a framework I always establish what style of language I want to use. Do I want it to be a non verbal activity where Nick will need to read my facial expression and body language for information? What declarative phrases can I use to suggest to Nick what may happen/what can be done? What can I say to spotlight a successful moment? With any style of communication that I use, the emphasis is on guiding Nick to hear and/or see what is happening, process the information and then make his own decisions.
One of the most important points that I need to remember, is that the activity is only a prop. My ultimate goal is engagement with my son. The framework is all about what I need to do in order to guide Nick. If it doesn't work out as planned, then I will reflect on what we have done, learn from the experience and then write up a new plan. If all goes well, then I will think about our next step. It's a great habit to get into: Take Nick to his edge of competence and then one more step. And then again... always moving forward.
In order to remain focused it is helpful to choose a mantra for each framework. My mantra for this particular framework is; Remember to pause, remember to pause.....