It has been quite some time since our last planned engagement. Sadly, Nick has been having a tough time so I have eased off for a few weeks. He is now on the mend and I have just come back from a four day break (no kids!) so we are raring to go!
Now, young Nick is always a bit tricky after having a long break. He finds the couch far too comfortable and would much rather blob there and listen to story CD's than spend some quality time with his Mum. In fact, I do feel that I have been a slave to his whims over the last few weeks!
Today, I kindly made up his fruit and veg juice and then took it to the sofa ~ this was his cue to get up and collect a glass from the cupboard, which he duly did. Now, after he had drunk the juice... and before he could head for the couch again, I quickly started passing him items that needed to be put away. Fruit and veg into the fridge, glasses and such into the sink, rubbish into the bin. I was delighted that he took on his role and just went with the flow. At no time did I tell him what to do ~ he chose to assist! (Although I do admit to being a sneaky Mum and grabbing opportunities when I can!)
Anyhow, his involvement with the clean up prompted me to set up a planned engagement.
I decided to choose a simple activity, something that had been done before and one that we both felt comfortable with. I wrote up a framework sheet for 'walking to the gate'. I decided that our roles would be to walk to the gate, collect a magazine each and then walk back towards the garage. Now this is a very easy activity, therefore I also needed to throw in a little challenge for Nick. For the challenge I decided to involve our dogs and Nick's role would be to throw a ball to them. Thus I would be setting up a regular safe pattern and then introducing a challenge (edge plus one). I wanted the activity to be mostly non verbal and I wanted to play particular attention to slowing down, referencing, pausing, co-regulation and giving Nick opportunities to problem solve. Note: the wash basket was a prop and I wasn't sure if we were going to use it or not!
Please note: my video clips are not of the greatest quality. It was windy and the mic can't pick up the sound of voices from a distance (not that it matters as we were mostly non verbal).
In the following video clip you can see that we decided to use the washing basket and it was a great prop for us to carry together. It slowed us down and whenever Nick pulled on ahead, I just paused the action and waited for him to reconnect. He is very capable of referencing my face and body language for information and he is also aware of his role. At time code 0:50, I pause and then throw the ball to the dog, modeling what I would like Nick to do when he reaches his challenge.
In this next clip you can see that Nick is unsure of what to do and he keeps placing the ball into the basket. We are now at his challenge. Whilst we are standing there, I am thinking of ways in which I can scaffold the situation in order to help Nick. I eventually decide to keep it simple and just hand him the ball. Nick immediately realises what to do and to the delight of the dogs, they get a ball to catch. You will see that Nick goes on ahead without me. I stop and quietly wait for him to decide to come back. We then walk to the gate together.
This last clip shows us walking slowly back towards the camera. Nick sees the ball and decides to pick it up and place it into the basket (old patterns die hard!). I don't say anything to him, however, I do make a little noise to help scaffold the situation. This was enough to remind him that his role was to throw the ball to the dogs. From around time code 0:50 I am just recapping on what we have done and spotlighting the challenge of throwing the ball.
Although our activity was simple and in total we were only there for five minutes, I thought that it went very well. Nick was connected and capable of regulating his actions with mine. He did need a little bit of scaffolding to help him decide what to do with the ball, however, I do need to point out that I didn't tell him what to do. At the end of the day it was his own decision.
I really like that I kept the pace slow and calm. Nick was not under any pressure to perform and he coped so well considering that we have been out of action for some time.
We will continue to do this activity over the next few days and I will be throwing in other variations and little challenges. The dogs are going to love me!! :)