Scaffolding for Independence

I shared this RDI post a few weeks back. It's a quick read so click right here to get the background of today's post.

I have been thinking about how to scaffold different sections of our last planned engagement to enhance Nick's learning experience. My wish is to guide Nick in such a way that he feels comfortable with uncertainty and also ensure that the challenge he is faced with is not too overwhelming. In RDI speak we call this 'edge + 1'.

For example: Nick finds it difficult to judge the amount of Nesquik powder to collect on his teaspoon and he invariably overloads the spoon (the instructions state to use three teaspoons). I threw around a few ideas and eventually decided on the easiest one. Nick could spoon two teaspoons of the powder into his glass! You can check out our experience in the following clip.

Before you watch the (one minute) clip, I would like you to take note of a few things.

* Watch me and observe how I scaffold this part of the activity. Take note that I am only using declarative language and I also make sure to pause and wait for Nick to respond. I don't tell him what to do. I make suggestions and the decision to participate is Nick's. Watch how he references me for information and guidance. We are working together nicely without any pressure.

1. I reflected on a previous experience. This was to encourage Nick to recollect what happened last time and also give him a clue of what is going to happen next.

2. I pause and let Nick take the initiative.

3. I don't jump in and assist when Nick takes three teaspoons. I let him finish... and then spotlight that he 'forgot' and remind him that we are going to do two teaspoons.

4. I decide to add in a little challenge and let Nick know that we are going to try again.

5. I didn't assist in any way while Nick was having his second attempt. I gave him the time to make his own decision.

6. I made sure to spotlight what happened.

I realise that I wasn't going to share any more video footage of us, however, I find that a visual representation of an interaction is powerful and extremely helpful. It is much easier for me to share a clip with you, than write a very long blog post explaining the whole process. Video footage helps me to reflect on our activity and think about our way forward. Nick also gets to watch himself in action and I am sure it helps him to encode the experience and add it to his memory bank for future reference.

So, what did you think? Was the video clip helpful? Did it give you some ideas on how to use declarative language? Did you notice that I was providing opportunities for Nick to think for himself and make his own decisions? Did you find our interaction encouraging?

My RDI Hat!

Righto, I am putting my RDI parent hat back on....

Our lovely RDI Consultant has set us some goals and objectives; part of which includes the following.

'Motivation and Experience sharing- Nick will demonstrate the ability to manage temporary uncertainty associated with different activities.   Responds to feelings of uncertainty that leads to maintaining engagement and not as a cue for avoidance, withdrawal or premature closure….  Here we are watching for Nick to not see the activity as a task to complete.  He already loves novelty and is going places…so this is working on some novelty in the home, the day to day, he has certain expectations in the home and struggles with being in the moment in activities.  This is why we are going to do some games and food activities…Open ending activities'

Here I sit, pondering over a framework sheet, thinking about where to start. I need an activity that is familiar to Nick, yet one that I can add in a little challenge. Hmmm, food activities would work!

Aha, I have the perfect solution. Nick has discovered chocolate Nesquik. (He found it hidden in the back of the food cupboard!). I can set up a framework around the making of a basic milkshake.

Nick's role would be to bring me the items needed to make the chocolate milkshake. He is familiar with this, although needs a few declarative comments to find the right spoon to use (teaspoon).

My role will be to add one teaspoon of the powder into the glass. I would then invite Nick to add one teaspoon. He will need to pick up on my declarative clues/body language to hand me the spoon so that I can add the third and last spoonful to the glass. Hopefully this will be a lovely back and forth experience, with Nick understanding the reciprocal pattern.

For the remainder of this activity, we could use a contingency pattern. Nick can pour the milk while I stir.

Nick's 'plus 1' (challenge) will be to use the teaspoon to collect some powder from the container and place it into the glass. This sounds relatively easy, however, if you take into account his motor planning problems, it is difficult for him to judge how much powder to collect. Another challenge for him will be to pour the milk slowly into the glass at the same time as I am stirring.

Feedback from the activity

The activity went well and there were no great surprises for me. As I predicted, Nick overloaded his teaspoon. I need to think of a way to scaffold this for him. Perhaps use a measuring spoon and show him how to level the powder by using a knife ~ a new experience and an extra little challenge for him. Nick referenced me for information and was able to read my non verbal clues. Was our interaction a wow? No, not really. Although Nick coped well with moments of uncertainty, it was a bit task mode. I put this down to the fact that Nick was dead keen to have his milkshake and he was more interested in the end goal and not all the interactive stuff in between. Such is life!

What would you do next time?

P.S. Here is a pretty picture to take your mind off the fact that Nesquik is seriously unhealthy! :)

Forever Parenting

I have been SO slack these past few months. Not that Nick is complaining about my mothering skills, you understand! For sure, I am doing all that good mum stuff, however, I haven't been guiding him in an effective manner. He (we) have been cruising through our days and there hasn't been much RDI learning/guiding/progress happening.

That aside, traveling has been high on the agenda this year and I have really enjoyed some fantastic grown up time without the responsibilities of caring for a special needs teen, who (although extremely lovable) is a 24/7/365 job!

At the end of the day, I am going to be parenting Nick until it is no longer possible. Therefore, I am giving myself permission to seize any exciting opportunities that come my way. I feel that it is important to have breaks, whether they be short and sweet like a catch up with friends; or larger adventures like traveling with the husband. Now that Nick is practically 17, it is much easier to leave him for a few days. I also think the change in routine is good for him.

A happy mum = a happy teen.