Are you still out there? I haven't blogged for so long that you have probably forgotten all about us. Such is life, I guess!
This RDI mother is still moving forward.......
Today, we made Houmous. I love the stuff, although have never made it before. A nice little challenge for me and also for Nick. Of course I had to invite my boy to join me, to which he did quite freely.
I wrote up the list of ingredients and went through them with Nick.
I collected all of the ingredients and measured them out.
Nick's challenge was to put the ingredients into the food processor when needed. Edge+1
He was a star, although wasn't keen to be involved when the food processor started to do its thing!
I am always very mindful of his Edge+1 and feelings of competence. I could see he had reached his limit and it was of no bother to me that he needed to leave. I am thrilled that he was happy to be with me and play a small part.
At the end of the day, the activity is only a *prop* for the interaction between us.
Now to see if he will taste it! :)
It's hard to photograph Nick. He doesn't dislike the camera, however, his movements are so rapid that it is difficult to capture him when he looks at the camera. I have loads of 'eye roll' shots to share, but in all honesty it's not a great look! :)
The easiest thing to do is to give him the iPad and just go with the flow.
The second photograph makes me smile. I have this little trick of closing my eyes if Nick gets stuck in a loop of asking me the same old question again and again. He understands that I do not want to engage in his repetitive pattern. I love that he tried out my trick on me.
First attempt at self portrait in low light conditions.
Just in case you haven't noticed, I have had a wee break from blogging. It's been great!
Nick is fine. I am fine. We are just cruising along, living life in the slow lane with the occasional adventure thrown in for good measure.
I am still practicing my photography. Check out my Instagram if you are interested. I generally post one image a day. You can find me here.
I have been finding it difficult to photograph Nick. He goes into *serious mode* when I pull out my camera! He is also constantly in motion. He blinks frequently and also uses his teeth to make mouth movements. It's quite a challenge to capture him with his eyes open and his mouth/teeth looking natural. :)
Anyhow, I have decided to practice my 'Nick' photography while he is using his iPad. He is conscious of me being in his space, yet he is very relaxed and expressive. Perfect for the both of us.
Watch this space!
Well, here we are. The very last post for April. I have enjoyed my daily ramblings, although I'm not sure I will be able to keep it up for May! :)
Speaking of May..... Nick has a big birthday at the end of the month. He is turning 18. It doesn't seem so long ago that he was the size of the wee boy in the photograph below. Time has zipped by quickly.
We ended off our month with an adventure. A friend invited us to go for a spin in his Foxbat and we jumped at the opportunity. Nick was happy to wait for us all to have a turn. That iPad sure comes in handy!
We are off on another adventure in three sleeps time. This one involves a much larger plane and Nick will be traveling with us. Thank you, RDI, for giving us a better quality of life.
I have enjoyed writing a blog post every day for the last month. It has been so helpful to look back and take stock of the planned engagements that I have shared here. Woohoo, I have a list that I can refer to! I am going to make sure that we keep up our practice with each activity and also keep adding little challenges. Self care also pops up on the list, as it should! Have you done anything special for you today?
1. Washing dishes
3. Brushing teeth
4. Carrying heavy objects
5. Self care (me)
6. Cutting fruit
7. Self care (me)
8. Fine motor exercise using tweezers
9. Sorting clothes
10. Closing doors
11. Self care (me)
12. Walking together
13. Packing a weekend case
14. Unpacking foodstuff
15. Self care (me)
16. Declarative comments
17. Setting limits!
18. Making fruit and vegetable juice
20. Collecting the ingredients for cooking
21. Self care (me)
22. Emptying the dishwasher
23. Board game
24. A different board game
25. Self care. A poem.
26. My thoughts
27. Emptying the dishwasher (non-verbal)
28. Sharing a blog post written by Lisa Palasti
29. Today's post
30. My final post for April 2017
Self care ~ today
We do like our slow days.
In fact, taking our time and going with the flow is more meaningful than rushing hither and thither! We get to experience the little moments and share them with each other.
I enjoyed reading this short article written by Lisa Palasti. Slow Down in Autism Treatment
Have you ever gone non-verbal? To clarify, I am talking about communication without speech/the spoken word. Being non-verbal means relying on other avenues of communication.... facial expressions, eye gaze, body language, position of body, shrugs, noises, gestures.
With this in mind I wrote up a new framework for an activity we did the other day. My goal for this activity was to focus on non-verbal communication, joint attention and co-regulatory patterns.
Unstacking the dishwasher (again!)
I pass a plate to Nick.
Nick puts it on the counter
We swap roles
Nick passes me an item
I put it on the counter
We swap roles
I pass Nick a cup
He puts it in the cupboard
We carry on in this manner until the dishwasher has been emptied.
Note: Nick's edge+1 will be the continuous changing of roles.
No distractions... doors closed to keep out the dogs! Aim to have an empty dishwasher. Do not use speech.
No speech. Use facial expressions, noises, body language, gestures. When changing roles, move my body to a new place to communicate the new role. Slow down and wait for Nick to pick up on my non-verbal cues. Relax and go with the flow.
If only I had filmed this! We coordinated our movements beautifully. After handing Nick the three items, I stopped in my tracks and then deliberately moved my body so that I was standing away from the dishwasher and closer to the bench. He immediately picked up on this cue and took on his new role. We continually referenced each other for information and adjusted what we were doing as we went along. Our engagement was a wonderful example of what can be achieved without speech. The joint attention was WOW and I am so thrilled that our simple activity turned into a successful little dance between the two of us.
Flowers are more interesting than pots and pans!
RDI is bigger than what I share. I write about the journey with my son, who just happens to be on the more severe end of the spectrum. My stories are a simple description of what helps us to continually make progress. Your child may be more advanced or perhaps not yet at Nick's stage of development. It doesn't matter. The RDI program addresses where your child is at. Maybe my blog posts do not fit your situation. That also doesn't matter. We each have our own personal stories.
This journey also includes me. I share my role as Nick's mother and how RDI has helped me to become a better parent to him. I have no problem in admitting that I needed help on how to guide him effectively. I thank RDI every day for giving me the tools to insure a better quality of life for both us.
Thank YOU for reading my posts. I hope that my words help you in some way.
Some days we just hang out
This boy and me
Sharing the same space
The same air
Held together by invisible string
A glance to check in with the other
A movement to indicate.... what I don't know
A book appears
I point to a word
He reads it out loud
Mutual enjoyment brings light
Loudly I exclaim
Delighted he laughs
A sweet book
A lovely moment captured in time
Mother and son together
He turns the page
Always ready to take on a role
I look in wonder
At the child I helped create
The man who is a constant in my day
It's not easy
I must admit
Why me, I ask
Why not you, they say
All I can do is...
No matter how hard
I found another board game that looked like it had more potential than Junior Scrabble. Rather than write up a new framework, I decided to use the same one as yesterday's post... Junior Scrabble.
My goal for this engagement is to connect with Nick and share the enjoyment and experience of playing a game together.
Our board game of choice:
Catch me if you can.
I take a turn / Nick takes a turn.
Activity limits.... and rough plan:
This game calls for four counters each. The objective of the game is to (throw) push the dice, read the number and then move the correct counter. This is too much for Nick, therefore we will only have one counter each and the first person to get their counter 'home' is the winner.
Having one counter each makes the game/activity shorter and more manageable for Nick.
No distractions. Game to continue until first person is home.
Lots of declarative comments. Scaffold by helping Nick to count the spaces he needs to move.... keep it simple, 'one, two, three...'. Pause a lot to give Nick the opportunity to attempt the counting. Use noises (for example; a little cough) if he forgets that's it my turn. Be expressive about each move, emphasizing my enjoyment of the game!
I placed the game on the table and made a comment along the lines of... 'I found this game that looks like fun'. Nick walked past the table on the way to his fav sofa. He looked at the game, looked at me and then moved away. No big deal, I thought, I will just carry on with what I am doing.... (making a cup of tea).
A short while later, Nick went to the table and took the game out of its box. Woohoo, of course I was dancing with delight that he made the first move. We played the game for a few moves each before Nick decided he had had enough. I helped scaffold his last few moves to ensure that we ended the game on a positive note.
It's been a while since we have played any type of board game, so I pulled out the old Junior Scrabble.
My goal for this engagement was to connect with Nick and share the enjoyment and experience of playing a game together.
Our game of choice:
I take a turn / Nick takes a turn
Activity limits..... and rough plan:
Only work with two boards, each containing four words.
The words are quite easy, therefore I will choose a letter and place it in an unexpected place. For example, in the middle or end of a word. Nick to make his own plan about what letter he chooses.
Lots of experience sharing declarative comments. Pause and wait. Self-talk so that Nick hears my thoughts.
Nick joined me in the game and he immediately understood his role. Was he wildly ecstatic to be there? No. Although we were connected and had a nice co-regularly pattern thing going on, Nick was in task mode. The game wasn't fun and he was going through the motions. To be honest, I thought it was too easy for him. I ended the activity earlier than planned.
Try out some other board games.... some with a bit more oomph / fun.
Nick makes me laugh. I casually mentioned that the dishwasher needed to be unloaded. He looks at me, makes the sign for 'finished' and plonks himself down on the sofa. I'm like 'whatever' and I carry on drinking my morning tea, while pondering over a Sudoku puzzle.
No more than five minutes later, he gets off the couch and heads to the dishwasher!
Now this is where it comes in handy being a veteran RDI mom. Before joining him at the dishwasher, I had already figured out my plan.
Working together and adding in a little challenge. Edge+1.
Unstacking the dishwasher.
I pass items to Nick.
Nick places the items on the counter.
I change the pattern
I put the utensil basket on the counter.
We remove items at the same time and put them in the utensil drawer.
I change the pattern
We go back to the dishwasher and proceed to unload the top shelf.
I check that there are no distractions. I suggest that we turn off the CD.
I remind myself to go with the flow.
Lots of declarative comments.
Pause the action and giveNick time to respond.
Non verbal facial expressions and body language. Eye gaze.
Our activity went smoothly. Nick was really mindful about placing the items (he used to bang them down). I liked that I often paused the action and waited to see what Nick would do.... thus giving him opportunities to make his own decisions. To be honest, Nick managed really well with the little challenges I threw his way. It's great that the experience was stress free and that Nick felt competent in his role, no matter the role he was playing.
I need to put some thought into further engagements. It's fabulous that this familiar activity is now easy for him, however, what is my next step/challenge in order for Nick to make further progress.
It's Friday. You know what that means, right?
Friday is a day to chill. It's a day to do whatever we feel like!
Today, I made arrangements for Nick for be looked after.... so that I could go out for lunch with some friends. I also treated myself to some tulips. Nick was happy. I was happy. Win win.
It is always possible to make a plan, if you really want to!
Hey hey hey, it's a cooking day. I have exposed Nick to many activities that involve cooking. From buying ingredients at the grocery store to dabbing icing onto cookies. He feels comfortable when I invite him to join me. With that in mind, I decided it was time to throw him a curve ball, a little variation.
My goal for this activity was to introduce Nick to a new pattern and see how far we could go with it. #edge+1.
Collecting the ingredients needed for savoury mince.
Note: For this activity, I chose to use photographs of the ingredients.
I hold my cell phone, choose a photograph and then show it to Nick. For example; an onion.
Nick looks at the photograph and collects the item from the cupboard/drawer ..... and then gives it to me.
Limits (thinking ahead):
Be prepared.... Take a photo of each item before the activity. Or, Google a picture of each ingredient and take a screen shot (to show variation of product... same but different). Have only one photograph for each item needed. Only select nine items. No distractions... no dogs, no music, no iPad, no monkeys, no TV.
Lots of non verbal expressions and eye gaze. Declarative comments to help scaffold when Nick can't find an item. Lots of pausing to slow down the activity.
Nick has a general idea of where everything is. For example, the onions live in a special drawer with the garlic. The tins of tomatoes live in the cupboard along with the condiments and other cooking paraphernalia.
He quickly cottoned onto his role of looking at the photo on my phone and then moving off to go and find the item. At times, he didn't stop to put any thought into what he was actually looking for, therefore I had to pause his action and show him the photo again. He needed further assistance when he couldn't find the carrots in their usual spot. For this, I made a few little noises to get his attention and then used eye gaze to point out the general direction of the carrots. He began to get a little irritated after seven items, so I made sure to tell him that there were two left to collect and then we were done. Spotlighting that end goal helped him tremendously and meant that I could push him just a tiny bit further.
I will definitely be revisiting this activity. I really liked having the photographs as a guide and it was great to see Nick using them so effectively. I am thinking.... pictures / pictures and written words / written words. The possibilities are endless.
Sometimes I feel as if I am the only person in the world who still has to help their teenager bath/shower. Am I? Is there anyone else out there?
For more years than I care to count, I have been trying to teach Nick to wash himself. Dyspraxia and low muscle tone means that this is a difficult task for him. But.... we continue to persevere.
Yep, you guessed it. Today's RDI engagement is all about bathing! The best way for me to approach this is to bring in a familiar pattern and then add little variations. #edge+1
Using a facecloth and soap, I will take a turn to wash a body part (that sounds like something out of a horror movie!) and then Nick will take the same turn. We will carry on in this manner until I feel that Nick is ready to swap roles.
Obviously, I am not going to share any photos of bath time, therefore here are some pretty flowers for you.
We have this super cool machine called Oscar. We feed him chopped up fruit and vegetables and he produces a lovely glass of healthy juice (minus the pulp). He has already made an appearance or two on this blog and because of his popularity I thought I would give him another shout out!
Nick often helps me make the juice. He has some experience with the preparation of the fruit and vegetables (needs further work) and is very competent at putting everything into Oscar. He has not yet figured out how to take Oscar apart. Time for an RDI framework, methinks!
My objective for this RDI activity is edge+1. I will start our activity using a familiar pattern and then introduce a new challenge.
Make fruit and vegetable juice and then take the juice machine apart (for cleaning purposes)
Note: Prepare the ingredients before inviting Nick to join me.
Nick: Nick to place the ingredients into Oscar.
Me: I will use Oscar's plunger to push down the fruit and veg.
Me: I will model how to remove a part and then step back.
Nick: Nick will remove the part
Turn off CD player. There are only five parts of Oscar that need to be removed from the motor, therefore the removal of the five parts will be our goal to reach.
Help guide Nick with fruit and vegetable choices that need to be feed into Oscar. For example; chanting 'spinach, spinach, spinach'. Also use chanting when removing each part. For example: 'pull, pull, pull'.
Use declarative language and self talk when modeling how to remove each part.
Give Nick plenty of time to think for himself and plan what to do.
Nick was happy to come and help feed the ingredients into Oscar. It was easy for him and I could see that he felt confident with his role. The introduction of the challenge caused him to show a tiny bit of stress (definitely his edge+1). I took my time and Nick watched me as I modeled what to do. My chanting really helped him focus and he took on board what I said.... for example, 'turning, turning'. He showed lovely resilience and it was wonderful to see him take up the challenge of trying something new. This is how we continue to move forward..... set up a familiar pattern so that Nick feels competent and then add in a tiny challenge.
I will continue to practice this activity with Nick and introduce further little challenges when I think the time is right.
As we were heading home after our long weekend away in a nature reserve, I spied some Zebras that were crying out for a photograph. When I came to a stop and pulled out my camera, the dogs (in the back of my car) started barking loudly. As if that wasn't enough, Nick started moaning at me and continually made the sign for 'finished'.
Well, this mama bear felt extremely irritated. I am generally a very patient person, especially when it comes to Nick. However, this time, I decided that I was going to carry on doing what I wanted to do. I was going to put myself first! I yelled at the dogs to be quiet and then told Nick to stop whining. Well, that stopped all three of them in their tracks and I managed to get some quick snapshots.
I even made two more stops on the side of the road before we left the estate. Nick and the dogs didn't make a peep! Sometimes, people, just sometimes, it is important to set some limits! :)
Me: Hey Nick, I need some help unloading the dishwasher.
Nick: Turns off the TV and comes to help.
Me: Ooh, it's dark in here.
Nick: Turns on the light.
Me: Oooooh, I'm coming to get you. My arms in the air, Scooby Doo style!
Nick: Runs down the corridor, looking back at me and laughing.
Me: I am taking the dogs for a walk.
Nick: Waves me goodbye. As in.... I do not want to come with you!
Me: Oh no, I can't find my glasses.
Nick: Scans the room and finds them for me.
Me: Right I am going out in the car.
Nick: Quickly puts on his shoes and is in the car before I can say 'are you coming?'
Me: Let's read a book.
Nick: Go's off to find a book and comes back after making his choice.
Declarative comments work a treat.
Once an RDI parent, always an RDI parent!
The one big pain of going away for a few days is the unpacking that is involved upon arrival at our accommodation. Maybe it is just me!
Of course, I planned an RDI engagement around putting all the foodstuffs away.
We had two large boxes to unpack. First up, I set up a pattern where Nick passed me an item and I placed it into the fridge. When he was comfortable with that, I changed our roles. I passed Nick an item and he placed it into the fridge. From there, we took on the roles of doing the same thing at the same time. We both took items out of the box and placed them into the cupboard. The box was full of goodies and Nick started getting a little anxious, therefore I changed our roles again… Nick passed me the items and I placed them in the cupboard.
What I am trying to spotlight here is the importance of setting up a pattern and then adding variation. I am introducing Nick to different roles and encouraging flexibility with change. I am also being very mindful about his edge+1. If I feel that he is becoming anxious, I will go back to a pattern where I know he feels competent. I then end the engagement on that positive note.
Have a fabulous weekend. I am not sure how ours is going to pan out, as it’s a wee bit wet!
We are going away for the weekend, so I thought it would be a fab idea to invite Nick to help pack his own case. I wrote up a framework plan for our engagement. Taking the time to think about the activity and writing down all the information helps keep me focused on the engagement.
My main purpose for this activity was to ensure that I addressed Nick's edge+1. Adding an extra little challenge and being mindful not to push him too far.
Packing a weekend case.
#1 I pass Nick one item and he places it into the case. We do this for roughly 6 items.
#2 We swap roles. Nick chooses an item and passes it to me. I place it in the case. Etc.
No distractions...... shut the bedroom door to keep the dogs out! 3 pairs shorts, 3 t-shirts, 3 underwear, 3 sets of sleepwear.
Small carryon case with zip.
Lots of declarative comments. Thinking aloud. Deliberate body language.
I mentioned to Nick that we were going away and that I would love some help packing his bag. He happily came with me to his bedroom. I set up the first pattern of passing him one item at a time. Without any guidance, he placed the items into his case. The clothes were packed rather haphazardly, however, this didn't concern me and I just ignored the mess! When I felt he was feeling confident with his role, I paused the action... and then very deliberately moved to where he was standing. I waited for literally a second before he realised that our roles were changing... and he went to the cupboard.
I made declarative comments about what we had packed and what we still needed to pack. Nick was listening and responded accordingly. We finished the packing with ease. I had thought that the change of role and then choosing his own clothes would be his Edge+1. However, Nick was relaxed and showed no inclination to leave.
I needed to put some thought into my next step, and also let Nick know that we were going to attempt something else. I then starting speaking my thoughts aloud so that Nick could listen to my processing. As I gazed around the room, my eye caught the case and the fact that it was still unzipped. Aha, that could be Nick's challenge.... doing up the zip on the case. Nick immediately went to the case to close it. Woohoo for self talk!
Manipulating the zip was a challenge for him, he pulled and pushed and turned the case around. I helped scaffold a couple of times, which prevented him from becoming overwhelmed with the challenge. I was very impressed with his resilience and the fact that he continued to persevere with the tricky zip. Way to go, Nick.
Nick doesn't get enough exercise, so whenever possible I take him down to the beachfront, where we can stroll along the promenade and then go for a milkshake/cappuccino.
Of late, when out walking, Nick tends to wander off from me and at times he does go too far. Mind you, he always looks back to check out where I am and he will stop and wait for me if asked (I make the sign for 'stop').
Today I decided to work on co-regulation and I wrote up a RDI framework for walking together.
My wish is for Nick to adjust his walking pace to mine, referencing my body language and facial expressions for change of pace. He is always quick to rush, therefore I want him to 'feel' the changes in speed and observe how we are walking together. I also want to add in some variety to our walking pattern for the purpose of Edge+1.
Walking at the beachfront.
I walk slowly
Nick walks alongside me
I pick up the pace
Nick picks up my pace
We walk from the car to the nearest pier and then back again.
Give a brief explanation of our activity. Chanting. Pause the action. Use non-verbal language.
As soon as we left the car, Nick started walking alongside me. Our footsteps were not in sync, although we were certainly walking at the same pace. I stopped walking. Nick stopped walking. I started walking, Nick started walking. This carried on until we reached the end of the pier. I tried to introduce a faster pace, however, Nick was quite adamant that he wasn't going to speed up. I sensed that it could be more than his Edge+1 so I respected his decision. His mood changed for the better as we left the pier, so again I attempted to quicken my pace. He adjusted his speed to match mine, although only for a short spurt. I really didn't want to push it, therefore only did two more attempts. The fabulous thing about our engagement is that he was very aware of matching his actions to mine.
Keep practicing... at home, at the shopping mall, the beachfront.... wherever we are! Continue to throw in little variations to the pattern.
Our day hasn't gone as planned, but hey ho, it's not a problem. No RDI engagement to write about, so am sharing some photos of Nick instead. No, he doesn't live on his iPad..... he is just a lot easier to photograph when he is distracted! :-)
It is all about the balance. Right?