Day 173 ~ 187
The following video clip is from a recent planned engagement. I am sharing the clip in its entirety, however, don't panic, it is only four minutes of footage! :)
Setting the scene
Nick has shown an interest in operating the aircon remote control, although his pushing of buttons has been a bit problematic, especially when I find the aircon pumping out hot air throughout his bedroom and the timer is jammed. Not a good plan in the middle of a hot summer night!
I thought it best to guide him on how to operate the remote. When writing up my plan, I decided that I was going to model how to use the remote and make declarative comments about what I was doing. First I would take a turn and then Nick could take a turn. I planned to go really slow and ensure that Nick could hear and see what was going on. I wanted to spotlight when the aircon was working and that sometimes we have to wait for some time before the aircon kicks in. To make this engagement more meaningful, I chose to use the aircon in Nick's bedroom.
This was a new activity for Nick so he was feeling a little anxious. He signed for "finished" on a number of occasions, although I chose to not make any mention of his signing. I guess I could have spotlighted his anxiety and given him some reassurance, however, I knew that I wasn't going to be taking him beyond *edge plus one*, therefore I just let it roll.
Taking it slow worked a treat. Nick got to understand that only one button needed to be pushed and that generally it only needed pushing once. It was all a matter of being patient and waiting to see if the aircon kicked in and started pumping cold air. I love that he was engaged and followed my lead, yet also understood his role. He referenced me for information and was able to recognise and react to my body language, gaze and gestures.
A little bit of spotlighting
0:21 I pause and wait. I want Nick to *feel* the time that it takes for the aircon to start pumping out cold air. I make sure to spotlight when the cold air starts coming out.
0:54 I make a little declarative comment.... "It is a bit hot in here". Nick immediately responds and turns on the aircon using the correct button. Woohoo, really thrilled with the speed of his processing.
1:34 I reminded Nick that he pushed lots of buttons on the remote the previous evening, however, he only needs to push ONE button. Hopefully he encodes this memory! :-)
2:49 I casually mention to Nick, "I wonder if you can remember how to turn it on?" Nick quickly turns on the aircon. I then pause and say, "let's just wait and see if it comes on". Again, I want Nick to *feel* the amount of time we have to wait and also *hear* when the aircon starts operating. I am spotlighting this time code because it shows me slowing us both down.
Blowing my own trumpet!
Mindful parenting sounds so easy, however, unless you are an absolute natural, it is hard work and takes a long time to master. Speaking from personal experience of course! There are days when I talk too much, rush too much or lose focus. It is all such a learning curve, although thanks to RDI my personal growth over the last few years has been great (just ask my husband!!).
I am happy with the way this planned engagement panned out. I was very mindful of pacing, spotlighting, pausing, using declarative language with a wee bit of imperative language. I gave Nick opportunities to think for himself and make his own decisions. I also used body language and facial expressions to communicate. This engagement was a natural learning opportunity for Nick. It was one that ensured he would encode the experience and hopefully recall when needed in the future.
Going slow works for us!
This photograph was taken by me!
It's crazy how fast the days are flying by. Four more sleeps and my first born turns 19! I am extremely delighted that he is going to be home for a few days at the end of March. Although we are comfortable with him flying the coup, it is kind of quiet in our house and we do miss having him around. Nick has communicated to me a few times (via sign language) that he would like to go on a plane to visit his brother.
I have to give a huge shout out to the amazing staff at Nick's school. They are a great bunch of people and work well together, ensuring that our kids are happy, productive and given as many opportunities as possible to excel.
I am loving my new photography hobby. It is such a learning curve and I do have a long way to go, however, the fact that I have something that is exclusively mine is very liberating. Autism is such a big part of my life and I really needed something else to think about.
I hope your week has been as nice as mine. Cheers!
This beautiful place is a one and a half hour drive out of Durban. We get to spend a weekend here once a month. We all love it, especially the dogs. The sights, sounds and smell of Zebra and buck really get their noses twitching. They have had a couple of close encounters, therefore are a bit nervous about getting too close.
One of the most noticeable things about Nick's progress as we continue on our RDI journey, is the increase in his resilience. It never ceases to amaze me that he has gone from being a highly anxious little boy who couldn't cope with any changes, to being a teen who is open to new experiences and willing to go the extra mile.
The following two video clips (four minutes in total) are from a recent planned engagement.
We had two cans of tomatoes, both with pull off lids. Nick has been practicing how to use a can opener and is now feeling quite competent with his role. Note: we are working towards him being able to open a can independently.
The first part of my plan was to work together using the can opener to open the can. I would be the holder and Nick would be the turner. This is a familiar activity that Nick feels comfortable with, therefore this part of the engagement is the *edge*
For the second part of the plan, I wanted to introduce another way of opening the same type of can. Instead of using the can opener, I intended to guide him on how to use the tab to pull the lid off. This is a new experience for Nick and I classify it as his *plus one*
From my perspective, I find that prior planning makes the world of difference to engagements. I always take the time to write down my goals and objectives, keeping in mind the *edge plus one* concept. I am very aware of pacing/slowing down. My style of language is generally declarative and I am mindful of not bombarding Nick with language. I can read Nick and know when he needs me to help scaffold the activity. I also ensure that we end on a positive note and then recap on our activity.
Nick was the bomb. These video clips, especially the 2nd one, highlight Nick's progress. His resilience throughout the whole engagement just blew me away. He handled the first can so well and we worked nicely together. He was hesitant with the second can, which was understandable due to it being a new experience. Nick also struggles with motor planning issues, which make activities like these even harder for him. However, with my guidance, he really took on the challenge of figuring out how to open the can by using the pull tab. I am so proud of him.
P.S. Nick has recently started to sound out the word, "help". Did you hear him? :-)