Thursday, June 3, 2010

The Things that R is learning these days

Here are some things that we are doing with R these days

Expanding of themes and Pretend play

One interesting thing I am noting these days is how R expands everything he learns

Example- he used to love to make me play an imaginary violin – ( tune from Elmo’s Key-board-a-rama )

Now he has broadened that theme –

So he will point to a scrape on his hand and demand “Hurt play violin

Then I must move the scrape from side to side ( as though it were the strings of a violin)

or “Potty Seat play violin” or “Water play violin

I try to stretch the theme in another direction to another musical instrument but same object “ Water play piano “( clarinet, flute, drum and so on )

To further branch out, I also make this the theme of our alphabet game in the trampoline while jumping –

So I will say “ A for “... expectant pause  and R will reply “Accordion” ,

B for Banjo ,

C for clarinet,

D for drum and so on

( We make some exceptions for some we do not know and we cheat for those alphabets , like E for Elephant.

A few alphabets stand for R’s favorite things so there is an exception made for these as well – Example R for “Rudolph the Red Nose Reindeer” and S for “Santa Claus is coming to town” and “Y for “Yellow Submarine”. And of course “ M for mummy “)

It’s the same with all the Pretend play –

if he learns a general scene in the Dollhouse – Example mom climbed up the stairs and went into the kitchen

He will recreate the same theme with another playset – with Rocket and make the Little Einstens solemnly climb up the stairs of the rocket

The idea is that this will then lead to original themes

Pretend play is critical for abstract thinking which is one of the main gaps that can remain in Auties which is why DH and I  are very focused on it and one reason why our house looks like a toy store

Social Referencing

We are trying to teach R is to follow the gaze

( try this in your car on the highway – look on the side to the person riding the car on your side – invariably that person will look around to take a look at you – Neurotypical people reference socially in a matter of course. Auties ? Not so much )

I am trying to teach this to R – like in the library there are dolls on the ceiling

I ask R – “Find Elmo”

Then I look at Elmo and see if he will follow my gaze


Coming painstakingly slow

Though what he has is logical –

the other day I poured water on him in the bathtub - as he moved away I asked  solicitously


Hot” he replied

Scripts are not a perfect solution either

Example: if he wants candy we have taught him the script “Can I have a Blue Dum Dum Please?”
However if he wants to go to Toys R Us he will use the exact same scripts “Can I have a toys r us please

Its logical and meaningful but not fluid

Another example,  when I return from ATL at 5.30 pm on Tuesday, I find that R’s therapist is here: I slink around soundlessly( I know from past experience that if he sees me he will waste his therapy session in tears  and demand Mummy time every 2 minutes )

When the session ends R gasps with joy and does his happy dervish dance saying “ Mummy Mother Mama
( so he is expressing joy in a very typical fashion - but typical words needs to come too )

A charming thing he does these days when I say Good Bye to him he replies anxiously " hello miss mummy" as he does not want me to go
( again a logical expression but still not right )

(  beatles are a big favorite with R , and he watches their videos on You tube which is the reason for the Hello Goodbye motif)
You can see the theme in all these examples - he is communicating through words clearly, but still has such a long way to go

Joint Attention

He loves to show us all his hurts

DH teases me that he is a hypochondriac - but I wonder if its  less to do with self pity and more to do with the fact that he wants to express himself and this is one of the few ways he knows how to talk about

In fact this skill of joint attention where child shows you something and their pleasure is increased by you sharing in that pleasure is really great !

So he will say and sometimes write on the side of the bath tub things like

Arm Hurt

0 hurt ( 0 stands for his stomach as that is what he calls his navel owing to its shape )

I truly feel that one day R will be a great chatterbox

OT Things

To check the crossing over the midline – the other day while he was eating chair – I put some Shredded cheese ( he loves this ) in a plate on his left side

Interestingly I noticed that our OT was absolutely right and R switched hand dominance constantly

However he crossed over the midline - as in right hand crossing over to the left side to pick up the cheese

Episodic memory –

Another thing we are also trying is – help him understand his day – so while I am putting lotion on him after bath in the night – I ask

Me : Today in the morning we went to the park.. there we played with ……. ( I leave an expectant pause )

R Replies “ L and C”

Me: Then we came back home and played on the ……. ( expectant pause )

R replies .. Wii Fit

Episodic memory is critical becasue it is the starting point of what Greenspan would say are Level5 and Level 6 of thinking - grey area thinking - things like self reflection on emotion

So R at a later stage would need to think about his trip to the park at higher and higher levels

Then describe his emotion on that trip

Think about the memory from different perspectives - understand how he came across to C and L

Then eventually be able to reflect on his emotion  and correct course for the future

Medium Level thinking : I had a lot of fun because of  I love physical activity

Slightly higher level thinking  "I think C likes me because she tried to spend time with me at the park"

Highest level thinking  " I stayed too focused on the physical activities.. i should have spend more time socialising"
But it all has to start with episodic memory and practising thinking about it !

I am typing up this summary on my way back from Detroit – after a looooong day at work and all my co-workers have fallen asleep

But not me

I love this bit of any work trip

The bit before I get home

Anticipation is a lovely thing and a great source of joy for me .

One onerous thing that mums and dads  of auties realise at some point in time is just how much needs to be taught - when your child is younger you think in terms of speech
Of course the flip side - and the side that I choose to focus on - is how much potential there is in our kiddos

And if you treat developmental milestones with a  "what is next in my journey" perspective rather than a "he is 6 and still not doing .... " perspective - you have just as good a shot at happiness as anyone else !


kathleen said...

Great post :) yes! "What is next" rather than "what's not happening now"..I recognize that my kids will get there in their own time and in their own way...Enjoying the ride is important too.

Rachel said...

What amazes me is all the clinical worry that can happen regarding a child's milestones and their timing.

Yet you have a boy who is soulfully aware of your moods and needs and he completes you and your family. That level of communication and connection is rare my friend... and it is beautifully illustrated by your treasured boy.

hello, miss you :)

Þorgerður said...

I just loved reading this. P is for progress and L is for learning and the are both my favorite letters :)
You are doing a great job.

Anonymous said...

You always seem to end with a gem. =) it is SO true and good to be reminded. i enjoyed this update and am amazed at how similar R and D seem (except for talking about hurts!!!). I also love how you describe and explain things so clearly.

Kris said...

Yes, it is so important to think in terms of what comes next rather than what they are NOT doing...great reminder!

You are so aware of what R is capable of and what he still needs to learn...I struggle with this - what should we be focusing on?

And may I say again what a terrific speller R is!!

Anonymous said...

I'm thinking that most people might do well with a little floortime in their lives. ;) Barbara

Mr. Daddy said...

K I just love visiting your blog, I always go away feeling a lot more positive about life in general.

You are a treasure, and your family is beautiful...

Anonymous said...

You are a fun mom! Can I come over and play?

I love your approach and relationship with R. Really cool.

Kim said...

I love reading these posts--he is one smart dude! I too believe that he will be a big chatterbox someday soon!

danette said...

As usual I love your perspective and positive approach :).

It's true that so much that comes naturally to other children has to be taught to our kids. Painstakingly taught in many cases. But in my experience - both with my own boys and other auties we know - their capacity to learn and absorb information seems to rise to the task.

And on the flip side, things that other kids have to work on, auties can often do with little or no effort. From what I have seen with the letters you posted, R is a great speller, a skill that many kids have to work much harder to develop. With my twins, it's math - they are good at picking up on the patterns and numerical relationships involved in math.

I love your comment about speech that is logical and meaningful but not fluid. Bitty is the same way... Cuddlebug and Bearhug used to be also but they've come a long way. Their speech is still sometimes a little quirky compared to their peers, but it's more subtle now.

And though I know that socially they all need to keep working on that (especially Bitty, whose speech can be difficult for those who don't know him to follow), I love that their logic makes me think and see things in ways I hadn't considered before :).

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