Prompt becomes Trigger

I’m sure I have many fine qualities, but there is one particular skill I lack, probably more.  The one that I yearn for is a scientific bent, or a hefty dose of logic in the alternative.  This would help me be a better predictor of outcomes.  Instead, I am usually bumbling along several metres or sometimes kilometres behind the rest of the herd.  My herd is unruly, in need of firm leadership, if not a cattle prod.  It may well be something to do with their growth and development, coupled with my own age and decrepitude, but the combination appears to be paralyzing.

 

This dawns on me one morning when I notice a trend.  We have prompted our larger darlings through the morning routine, given countdowns about our impending departure until the moment arrives.  The moment when their father says, “Time to go,” prompts an unusual phenomenon.  Instead of filing dutifully towards the exit and the awaiting car to chauffeur them safely to their ultimate destination, namely school, they turn tail and run in the opposite direction in a mad stampede.

 

This habit, for it is an intermittent habit that pops out to bite us every once in a while, used to be due to an aversion to transitions.  Then it was an aversion to the school bus.  Then, an aversion to school.  So now I see how much progress we have made.  The exodus is not an aversion to anything. For some while it was a wordless retreat, a mass movement back upstairs, leaving us dumbfounded as they are far too big to be picked up and deposited against their will in a vehicle.  But of late, words have begun to accompany the pounding of size 10 sneakered feet thundering up the stairs with the seconds frittering away before the first bell.  Now we discover they voluntarily use words to explain the mystifying retreat.

 

“I’m just gonna get my …………”

“Just a minute, I need my ………”

“Heck, where’s my ………..”

 

So it is not an aversion to anything, instead it is the love for some miniscule and irrelevant object, which must be found and taken with them to school.

 

I’m sure we’re not alone in experiencing this hiccup; in fact I seem to remember my father, a stickler for time and motion studies, having similar issues.  Could this be why all the clocks in my own childhood were pushed five minutes forward?


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For Fellow Helicopter Parents

The debate ranges on about high functioning and other points along the spectrum, but some issues remain the same, regardless of which point you pick.  We know who we are even without everyone telling us, but we carry on.   We hover ever ready.   One day, perhaps, we can ditch the prompts, in the future, but for now we know our job is to intervene, preempt, reinforce those neural pathways and forge a firmer footing until they become second nature.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

To be fair, I feel pretty much the same when it comes to anything labelled ‘easy open.’


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Visual Schedule for nearly tweens


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The same old same old, with variations on a theme.  Good Luck.


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My Opponent is in a Tournament

Two words each with three syllables and lately they’ve turned up together in lots of different sentences – it’s a new phase. The trouble with this particular phase is not a spelling issue but a pronunciation issue. For some unaccountable reason the two become smooshed together in a tangle, all discombobulated.

It’s a source of great frustration, understandably so – you wish to make a perfectly straightforward point but the two main words of the message turn into a tongue twister.

There’s always the usual advice – slow down, close your eyes, take a deep breath – amongst others, but that’s no good when the information is important and the syllables bounce and buoy around in all the wrong directions.

It’s tempting to simplify – why can’t he just say:-

My rival is in a battle

Or simpler still:-

My guy is in a fight.

Why torture a speech delay with extra syllables? All the meltdowns could be avoided if we could just give up and go for the easier option.

It’s painful to watch someone struggle to communicate – when youthful enthusiasm is foiled so frequently we need to take a different tack, something to nail those points in place.


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Autocue – spoonfeeding

Sometimes it seems as if we have been going to occupational therapy forever, certainly more than five years. Together, the boys had 13 hours of different therapies a week up until the time that I had jaw surgery.

At that time we dropped everything except for the two double therapy sessions on a Wednesday afternoon, double occupational therapy and double speech therapy because Wednesdays are a half day at school. Their “father” took them during my period of recouperation. It gave him a far deeper “understanding” and greater “involvement” such that when I had recovered and was ready to take up the reins again, he decided that he’d prefer to keep taking them himself.

These days I take them occasionally when his schedule doesn’t allow him to go, like when he is abroad on business. Hence when Wednesday looms, I am secretly dying to see how their session will pan out with their father away. I’m uncertain what kind of routine they have developed, independent of my input.

In the past it was a great struggle because it was a transition and because therapy was hard work for them. On arrival, they used to enter the waiting room and then I would prompt them to tell their therapists that they’d arrived using the intercom. This meant pressing the button and speaking clearly into the audio box simultaneously. They used to have to use the step to reach the box on the wall, but they are considerably taller now. Each step took a great deal of prompting. On completion I would prompt them to remove their shoes and socks and stack them on the shelf. This also took a great deal of prompting, times two.

These days, they have had many years of practice, many years of prompting. I am keen to see how they will fare.

On arrival at the waiting room, one runs to the window to take a peek into the studio and the other flops onto the sofa. I wait. I observe. There is no further movement from either of them, nor any words. I wait. I observe. I sit on my hands and then put my elbows on my knees with my hands over my mouth. I wait. I observe. It soon occurs to me that I will wait for ever and that there is nothing to see. No action is likely to be forthcoming. I feel suddenly quite saddened for no apparent reason. There are lots of reasons that could cause sadness, but none of them are present, but still, the inertia drags me down. Just like other children they dawdle and are easily distracted. Just like some other children we have the ever present hurdles of inertia, ideation, sequencing and a serious lack of executive function regardless of the label.

I feel a tiny tickle at the back of my brain, deep in the depths from my years of speed reading to track down useful clues and tips. I became a butterfly reader immediately following their diagnoses, hopping from topic to topic, the brief overview and the summaries, gleaning the finer points but missing the big picture in crisis management. There are many tomes just on this one topic:- introduce the new behaviour, positively reinforce the new behaviour and then ever so gradually fade the supportive reward system. It is the fading of both the reward and the prompt that engenders independence. Without that final step they become reliant upon the prompt.

There again, there’s always the possibility that it’s nothing to do with autism, merely tired kids.

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