Well most of them are, aren't they? All those discrete tasks and skills that you need to teach your autistic child, depending upon how low your 'patience battery' runs. Mine is always on 'recharge now to avoid losing all data.' To be fair, we are on far more advanced skills than we once were, but seeing the dots and connecting them, would appear to be two separate tasks. 'Your mission, should you care to take it….' is to connect the dots.
Let's face it, teaching “social skills” to autistic children is not easy. I'm not talking about P's and Q's, nor which knife to use in which order. If only it were that simple. I'd happily teach a course in the art of using finger bowls or sugar tongs, over my present workload. No, we're talking about the often intangible reciprocal exchanges that are effortless if you are neurotypical but hard to grasp if you have a different skill set.
Now that my children are aware that they have siblings and additionally, sometimes wish to spend time in each other's company, we find that all too frequently, the other sibling is not in visual contact. Fortunately, we have overcome the 'missing from visual contact' equates to 'invisible, magical, or death.' So you can see how far we have come.
So how do you go about finding your missing sibling? That's right, we look for them. We have also mastered this huge step. We do not have to endure a meltdown because we do not have 'finding' skills. Yes, we have found our 'finding skills.' I no longer have to remind them to use their eyes to look! What a triumph. Now I am witness to various children wandering around the house, using their eyes, looking for a lost sibling. It is too fabulous to describe. However, it's time consuming.
If for any reason, [many] the searcher fails to find the searchee, that is when the meltdown occurs, much further along the time line. Hooray!
Thus we need to finely hone our searching skills. What else might assist, failing a GPS tracker attached to the forehead? That's right. Go to the top of the class! We can use our words! How could we have forgotten that one? Which words could we use? Yes! The name of the person that we are looking for, which helps distinguish between different family members and may pre-empt a stampede of responses. It is better to travel hopefully than to arrive.
What else? We could say that ever useful phrase, 'where are you?' Everyone knows that one surely? Can we put these two together? Can we verbalize them?……….
Yes we can! Horray.
So the final piece, is to assist the searchee – when you hear someone say 'where are you?' then it's your turn to say 'here I am!' You need to respond, you need to use your words………… we're working on it.
Actually, we probably need to add another last final step. We need to be able to slip effortlessly from searcher to searchee role, and then back again as necessary. Anything else? There's always something else that I've forgotten until I trip over it.
Maybe sometime soon, I will become a deaf mother, as everyone runs around the house screaming each other's names. I hope.
I think it's only fair to warn everyone in advance, that if we don't experience 'growth' in this area soon, I will have no other option that to attach retractable washing lines to each one of them, or failing that, elastic.