Food and growth

Many people have a hard time understanding why the parents of special needs children are so incredibly inefficient.

So many of these children are more than capable but their parents get in the way of progress. [translation = a lawful impediment] Most parents have the best of intentions, but sometimes it can take a very long time for what appear to be simple skills, to be mastered.

In this particular household, we have been struggling with mealtimes for many a long year. For one of my sons, food is aversive. Like many children, food is of no interest to him. [translation = refueling stop] A wise parent would open a catering carton of Goldfish crackers and be done with it. [translation = guilty as charged] Other more foolish parents, know that the food campaign must be maintained. [translation = what's a few more months or years at this stage of the game] I already know, that there is a very fine line to be followed. [translation = push to hard and he can not eat for five days straight] I also know that we are slowly moving in the right direction. [translation = from 3 foods to 17 foods in three and a half years]

We start our day before it is light. My son drapes himself on the table shoveling breakfast cereal into his mouth that remains open, whilst he attempts mastication. [translation = many speech delayed children have a hard time controlling where their tongue is, in relation to all the other bits and bobs in there] He attempts to talk at the same time. [translation = bad table manners but how we love those moments of voluntary communication]
“When it is?”
“What is what dear?” I think for a second. Did he just say 'when' rather than 'what'? He did! I blink and await elucidation.
“I din say 'what' I say 'whennnn!'?”
“Yes, thank you. I realize that now. Seems like my ears aren't working properly this morning.” How many more failing body parts am I to discover?
“Das o.k.” So magnanimous. I wait. I do not prompt him to continue because then I might jinx my chances. I wait a bit more, listen to the crunching cereal and watch Cheerios ping around to various quarters of the room. [translation = one of the penalties of poor lip closure]
“So…..I say…..when it is?”
“When is what dear?”

I wonder how I'll manage with this new phrase and my new response? Maybe I should dig out a new response to use for the next six months? What new response would be a better response?

“When I am having my snack?” he bellows as he chucks his spoon into the bowl with a clatter, clutches both tightly, springs from the chair with the skill of a gymnast, skitters to the sink, flings them both into the bowl, flips back around 180 degrees with a grin from ear to ear to finish with, “coz I finish my breakfast and I am being dah hungry!”
[translation = balm to the barmy ears]
Gold medal winner that he is.

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Validation – thank you Nonna

I begin to think that I may be an American afterall. [translation = able to use and understand the psychobabble language without effort] It came to me earlier today.

At the moment we are lucky to have Nonna, the children's Italian grandmother staying with us for a few weeks. One of the advantages of having another adult at home all day, every day, is that teeny tiny things are confirmed, such as my own sanity.

For instance, I have been known to complain that they boys are my shadows. If I leave the room, or am otherwise out of visual contact, a hue and cry ensues. I appreciate, that when I explain this, that most people, not unreasonably, believe that I am exaggerating.

A simple task such as taking the recycling from the kitchen to the outside bin, a distance of some 25 paces, involves careful planning. Over the years, I have tried any number of different approaches to this tiny task. I can run outside and back again, having deposited the recycling in the bin of course, in approximately 44 seconds. Yes, I have timed it, and that's my all time record to date. However, this option has a number of disadvantages. The main disadvantage is that when I return, breathless with empty bin in hand, there are two small boys flapping around on the floor like landed salmon. [translation = but much louder] Apart from the distress and trauma caused to my boys' by my fleeting absence, in addition, I will then spend upwards of 30 minutes trying to calm them down again. [translation = thus reducing my efficiency quotient for the day]

Now, I know what you're thinking! 'My, my Madeline, you are missing the perfect opportunity to therapize those little chaps!' As always dear pal, you are completely correct. Sometimes, we do take the therapy option, afterall, any chance to lure them outside would always get my vote. [translation = both are 'allergic' to outside] There again, if someone hates to go outside, it might be better to make the 'outside' experience, a little more positive and enjoyable, and sadly, recycling doesn't fall into that category, outside or otherwise.

Sometimes when I'm feeling brave, we will attempt this feat; negotiation of the step, carry 'horrible' thing in your hand at the same time, [translation = tactile defensiveness at the very least] pass through the door jam without making contact,[translation = motor planning] or at least avoiding painful contact, [translation = insufficient sensory input for one, as well as the challenge to depth perception ] step into the sunshine, where are the sunglasses[!], walk the seven steps to the big bin, avoid looking at the plants and or bees, wait, [always a tricky one] whilst the bin lid is opened for you, attempt to hurl horrible thing in your hand into the open bin, cover your ears to protect you from the noise of the horrible thing falling into the bin, then sequence your way back into the house to wash your hands. [translation = times two] And of course those are only the edited highlights.

Personally, I cheat and go for the easy option, due to my cowardly nature. [translation = do everything at night whilst they are asleep]

So now, with Nonna here, I believe that I might just have a chance of nipping out to dump the recycling, whilst the children are present and awake, without the usual fall out.

I make my 50 yard dash, with bin, U-turn and return in 33 seconds flat, [translation = a new world record!] to the kitchen, where Nonna stands on the middle of the floorboards with two small boys flailing at her feet. Her hands flap at me to help make herself understood over the din, “but you were only gone for a moment! It's like dey think you are dead or something!” Her eyes widen in disbelief as the word 'dead' penetrates her grandson's ears. [translation = increase in volume of at least twenty decibels] Nonna's hands fly to her head to rip out the hearing aides, whilst I grovel on the ground with my grief stricken guys.

And that my good pal, is the story of how I lost my efficiency but regained my sanity. [translation = a sprinter not a marathon runner]

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Executive function! Where is it when you need it?

So it’s first thing in the morning and you need to get the children ready for school. Why should this be so incredibly difficult? Short of getting everyone up at four in the morning, how are you ever going to get them ready on time? Dress them in their school uniform when they go to bed the night before perhaps?

How often do you need to issue a simple verbal instruction? Dare we count? How often do we count? Do you count? Do you count and curse under your breath? How many children do you have, as that might affect the outcome? Do any of them have any kind of disability that might affect the result? What kind of disability? Is the disability relevant to their ability to follow through?

Lets take a couple of small examples, such as 'put your socks and shoes on,' or in the alternative, 'clean your teeth and brush your hair.' Pretty simple language, you'd have to be a complete idiot not to understand either or those right? There again, maybe you just have a bad child, a disobedient / no respect for elders and betters kind of a child? Let’s ignore the fact that both are two step instructions and the complications they induce.

Perhaps you just have a day dreamer, the kind that just can't stay on task and are easily distracted? Could be that they're just sleepy, got out of the wrong side of the bed or they're not early birds but night owls?

How do you get this kind of rabble to pay heed? I should 'wake up and smell the…..tea!' but they're American and still small. Very well, we're in America so perhaps I should crack the whip and yell “ya hoo!' and well I might, but first I'll have to become competent with my lasso to round them up in the first place. Lets face it, I'm failing fast around here.

Now I would be the first to admit that I hate jargon, as well as all that psychobabble, but sometimes, if one can grasp the meaning, it can work as a kind of short-hand, that helps focus a parent's addled brain. In this particular instance, for current purposes only, we can think of executive function as the ability to
A] formulate plans
B] take action on those plans
C] delay action when need be
D] operate on multiple levels
E] integrate all of the above and move between them

So that's why short hand can be a good idea. [Ref 1] The concept of “ideation” may be more palatable.

So why exactly am I torturing you with all this guff? Well, if you're like me, you don't have the time to research complex subjects written in technical language. Additionally, whilst originally I did research everything I could find on the subject of autism, my knowledge has always been a bit spotty. Also, what was of crisis level relevance a while back, can sometimes wane, before it rears up again to bite you when you least expect it. Lastly, I need to remind myself of the basics that are so all encompassing.

There is nothing like watching your child put a second set of clothes on over the first set, his brother’s set, that he’s already put on like a corset, to remind you of quite what you’re dealing with. Or there is the child that puts his underwear on over the trousers, when he’s not pretending to be a superhero.

I should add that a claim of “executive dysfunction,” should not be used as an excuse for being grumpy, as “abfh”
so elegantly describes.

To finish, let me give you another tiny example. After listening to the instruction 'put on your socks and shoes,' a few seconds later, he remarked “my hole! It has a sock!” He said this to his father, not the ether. He held up the offending sock at the same time that he spoke, to help reference his audience. He recognized that it was a sub standard sock and chose to communicate this information verbally, rather than having a meltdown, or alternatively, cared sufficiently to mention it at all. When he used the words that he did, he had them the wrong way around, but he used words like 'my' and 'it,' which he usually skips completely. He didn't yell, nor mutter sotto voce, attempt to repeat it louder and or give up and have a meltdown.

Yes, I know it's really tiny in the great scheme of things, but there are so many teeny tiny little bits and bobs for him to keep together at the same time, it’s not surprising if the odd chunk remains out of his grasp! But with a smidge of understanding from a parent, minuscule miracles can drown you every day.

It would appear that a “significant” percentage of parents of autistic children, have similar difficulties! So maybe we need to therapize ourselves first?

[Ref 1] Helping a Child with Nonverbal Learning Disorder or Aspergers Syndrome by Kathryn Stewart, Ph.D.

I read this book a few years back because of the 'non-verbal' tag because no-one was chatting very much around here.

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The Basic principles of parenting

You only need to know one. The one principle that all parents need to know and apply is 'consistency.' It's better for the parent, it's perfect for the child. If the child happens to be autistic, then woe betide the parent that quibbles with the undoubted soundness of this GOLDEN rule. The parent of the autistic child must apply the same consistent rules to that child several thousands of times, preferably in the same manner to avoid confusion. [most probably of the parent] Should you, the parent, be tempted to deviate from this course, then you only have yourself to blame when the whole house of cards comes crashing down upon your head. I know more than a few parents have difficulty with this first and most basic of steps, but it behoves us all to heed these words well. There can be no back sliding, no namby pamby, weak willed spineless parenting styles.

I return home with renewed fortitude to conquer rather than tread water. I have envelops to push, campaigns to promote and the determination to follow through even if it kills me. Oh yes, there is nothing like a 7 minute emergency trip for milk at 7/11 [translation = almost the corner shop] to recharge a parent's batteries.

I step inside just in time to catch the youngest speech delayed one as he scampers out of the bathroom, naked. Yes, naked again due in part to “tactile defensiveness,” which in turn, is part of the “sensory integration” issue, because few things are simple or straight forward any more. This is a task, that we seem to have been working on forever. Apart from the speech delay, and the use of language, for current purposes it is a three part ‘problem’: “sequencing,” [going through the same steps in the right order] “ideation,” [being able to visualise the end result] and of course, my friend and yours, “task completion,” [getting to the end.]

I hold him gently by the forearms, turn his body towards mine, find my cheerleader voice, pause, to ensure that I have his attention and say the same words that I have already said too many times to mention today, “clothes on dear!” He sighs as his body slumps, chin to chest, so that he is better able to gird his bare loins and growl. Suddenly his body snaps to attention, the soles of his feet stomp on the floor as he says, with rigid arms and spiked fingers, “ya know, you need to use dah different words! Dowz words are soooooo boring.” His chest pops out towards my chin, just enough to tip me over backwards onto my bottom. In this position I am better able to watch him depart, squealing, “run, run, run as fast as you can, you can't catch me I'm the Gingerbread man!”

It’s a shame that we can’t use the American equivalent, but of course it doesn’t rhyme. Nevermind either version is probably a good quote for a neophobic.

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Handy Hint [possibly] no 3

I’d like to give credit where it’s due, but I have a nasty habit of ‘speed reading’ for whatever is the current crisis. So unfortunately I will need to track it down later. Suffice to say, that somewhere or other, I found a new route to try and achieve a couple of moderate goals. [translation = at the time they seemed impossible]

Then, the boys did not ‘play.’ They were also incapable of doing anything without prompting. An example of this would be when Senior was being tested. He was given a school worksheet to complete that was well within his capabilities, but no pencil with which to write. He sat in front of the table looking at the worksheet but did not ask for a pencil. [I don’t know if he could have asked specifically for a pencil back then, but he might have asked for help or intimated that there was a problem, even if that manifested itself in a meltdown.] Similarly, if he ever finished a task he wouldn’t initiate the next step, ‘tell’ you that he was finished, merely remain static, roll off his chair or wander off.

Had I been at home I would have prompted him, but the ‘tester’ had given me strict orders not to interfere. It made me realise, reluctantly, how I constantly intercepted, coached and tried to anticipate and forestall stumbling blocks. Instead of using those opportunities to seduce them into speech, I was making the situation worse. I had chosen the ‘meltdown free’ easy road. I stole their motivation to speak. Why should they bother when they could get what they wanted faster by other means?

In addition, choices, regardless of whether they were preferred or loathed, were a long standing obstacle. Lastly, independence, even for a few minutes was well out of reach.

So many of the recommended therapies, be that RDI, floortime or whatever, had an built in flaw, namely, the one-on-one. One of me, two of them. I did do it, but it was unsatisfactory because somebody was always left to ‘float.’ That was the nub of the difficulty. I was not able to find anything constructive to occupy anyone independently. If I spent 45 minutes with one, rolling a ball back and forth on the floor between us, engaged, with giggles, some words and prompts, I knew that somebody else was busy examining air particles in the family room.

At that time we used PECS. I made a lot of them myself because the standard ones often provoked meltdowns because they had some ‘fault.’ I bought a binder for each of them and put half a dozen stiff pages in each. [They found it difficult to turn ‘thin’ pages] I velcroed two PECS to each page. They could choose between two ‘toys/ activities’ – lacing cards [tough on the fine motor] or magnet play. I made sure that they were on different ‘tasks’ from each other to avoid meltdowns. Each page presented two choices, so I could engineer who was doing what, stagger the difficulty level / hatefulness.

The last page showed that it was snack time. They only need spend a few minutes on each page, but in theory, they would be ‘done’ after 20 minutes to half an hour. A visual timer helped with this so they could see that it wouldn’t be forever.

I can’t remember now how many months it took before we were headed in the right direction, but gradually they managed to at least attempt the tasks. As they progressed, I added little ‘conversation’ bubbles to help prompt them to make comments, both to me – ‘I’m done’ and to each other, ‘great job.’ I know how artificial it sounds, and it was [is] but imposing structure on their chaotic world helped calm them considerably. They knew that once they had done their ‘work’ they would be given time to revert to their preferred perseverances, a trade off.

I would mention in passing, that whilst I complain and moan about the frequent, explosive tantrums that they both have, it is only in the last couple of years that I’ve realized that I was the one who taught them to do this. My reaction to the meltdowns was to placate, offer solutions, fix it and fast. Every time I did this, many times an hour, I reinforced the behaviour that I was trying to eradicate. I didn’t give them options to solve the problem for themselves, such as speaking. But back to where we were.

I would try to do this every day whilst my daughter was at school. She would sometimes join us if I drifted behind schedule later in the day. I imagine that if you have a typically developing child too, that it could be adapted, they would see it as ‘play’ rather than torture. I am uncertain whether a younger child modeling the behaviour you want would be a good thing or detrimental, as family dynamics make it unpredictable, but I think it would be worth a try.

I know it won’t be a good fit for a lot of people, but for me and mine, it was great, especially for me, because I had peace of mind, knowing that we were all together doing something constructive at the same time, rather than paying the heavy, psychological price, of someone spinning their wheels elsewhere.

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Vegetables win, even though tomatoes are a fruit

I've never been a very good cook, something to do with beating sauces anti clockwise, I believe, but it never made much sense to me.

To this day I can't understand how you can hold a wooden spoon backwards, but apparently I am guilty of this crime also. I've never been one for labels, so if my soup turned into a solid, then I'll call it a stew. If my dessert turned itself into a liquid, I'd just give a different name. It's remarkable how often you can call something 'Surprise Fricasse' and no-one is any the wiser. Never mind if it was overcooked, just chop off the burnt bits. Underdone, never mind, nuke it in the microwave, who cares if it's a bit rubbery, you can bluff it out: “Yes, that's right, I said 'Goodbody Flan,' it's an ancient recipe to line the stomach of miners when they were down the pits, very nutritious.”
It's very handy for desserts that refuse to set, as modern appliances such as the cuisinart or magimix mean that you can just whiz it to a liquid and you have pudding soup. It still tastes o.k. It's all about expectations.

These days, cooking and catering is so much easier. All I have to do is shake out a cup full of Goldfish crackers for the children and a bowl of fishy bites for the cats and I'm all finished.

I figure that this just makes them all vegetarians by default. Whilst we are making great progress in the food department, fruit and vegetables are not 'preferred foods.' The 'make your own packed lunch' campaign has been a moderate success and my older son will volunteer to make his own sandwich at other times to ensure that he can use at least 2 ounces of butter on each slice of bread.

At this stage, compliance and task completion are paramount. Coronary heart disease is low on the agenda.
Thus when I hear a squeak of surprise from him, I walk over to determine the cause. “My sandwich!?” he bleats.
“Yes, that's right. It's a sandwich. Well done for making it on your own. You must be very hungry to have made one now?” Less than an hour before supper.
“But it is tasting, er, not quite right.”

I look at the sandwich with one perfect semi circle missing because he skipped the wonky teeth gene.
“What's not quite right dear.” He pulls a face and bares his teeth, arching his back as he hunts for words. “It, it, it……I dun know, but it is tasting funny.” I peak under the top slice which reveals chunks of too hard butter, dollops of peanut butter and a bright red smearing of something that isn't jam or jelly.
I glance back to the kitchen counter, the scene of devastation following his 'cooking' session. I step closer as the bifocals aren't up to the task. I trickle of oil seeps from the up turned lid; Tomato pesto sauce. I rearrange my face and return to the table where he is on his second mouthful.

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Seasonal problems

He sniffs and sniffs and sniffs and sniffs. It is all to no avail as his nose trickles. I watch him, my face set. He is seven years old. I don't know which is worse, a nose that runs continuously with it's accompanying sniff with no further ameliorative action, or the occasional ameliorative action, which consists of wiping the offending appendage off on his sleeve, from elbow to cuff, or worse still, on whatever else is near to hand, be that carpet, the sofa or my thigh.

I am well aware that my face reads disdain and disapproval but I am unable to prevent those muscles settling into that well worn groove, as I steel myself for the inevitable, dithering between intervention to prevent the crime or watching the fulfillment of the offence, dishcloth at the ready. Last time he had a cold, a few months back, we wrote out a sequence of steps to deal with runny noses. Since he is a visual learner, we used the equivalent [translation = dumbed down, of “Carol Gray’s Social stories”] Most children need a little guidance in this department, but autistic child need very specific help.

If this was a preferred activity such as playing with a computer game, not much help or assistance would be required, but basic hygeine, bodily functions and self care don’t really make it to their radar screen. It is important to avoid the ‘but why?’ scenario when dealing with these basic functions, because any rational explanation you can come up with, is also ineffective. e.g. ‘because you need to be clean’ -‘but why?’ “Isn’t it uncomfortable having your face all messy like that?”
“Messy? No, it not messy, it fine!’ Take it from me, you’re just not going to be able to come up with a satisfactory reason as to why they should comply, at least not for my lot. We won’t even touch on the ‘do it for me, do it to make me happy/ proud/ pleased’ as that line of reasoning is doomed before the words have even been formed.

Now he's so much bigger, I swear that if it wasn't for the asthma, I'd stuff a couple of tissues [translation = Kleenex] up his nostrils, like people with frequent nosebleeds do.
Sniff, sniff, sniff. I wait and seethe, but he is blissfully unaware of my presence. He looks up from his work as his back arches and shoulders rise to his ears in one supreme effort at stemming the flow, but failing. He slips of his chair muttering, 'is not workin.” He blunders off in the direction of the bathroom. He re-emerges with a fistful of tissues [translation = Kleenex] and honks in a fairly efficient fashion, “das better,” he murmours moving back towards the table, letting the soiled wads fall to the ground. Only one stomp towards the table and he back tracks an additional stomp, “oopsie, I forgot that one.” He scoops the paper from the ground on his third attempt, bimbles back to the bathroom, clanks open the pedal bin and approximates a lob, whereby most of it ends up in situ. He saunters back past me, giving me a casual glance, “your face is broken.”

Shattered more like.

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Shell game

I reconsider my ban on straws. [translation = drinking straws] They are no longer permitted to drink every drink [translation = beverage] with a straw regardless of temperature or content. No longer will I need to explain that although they are drinking hot chocolate that a straw is compulsory, not bizarre. Enough of this lip closure hogwash. [translation = jaw muscle strengthening technique] I am single handedly responsible for three life times worth of disposable plastic straws. Admittedly as yet, they are short life spans, but threatening to be terminated prematurely. I need gain control of this environmental crime.

But in punishment for such an arbitrary rule change on my part, I now have to endure the sight of them missing their mouths on regular occasions. Additionally, the increase in laundry is another punishment to the rule changer.

I mean! How can you miss your mouth? It's not as if it relocates itself somewhere else about your person without warning? It's a permanent fixture. If it were there this morning, it is likely to still be there later in the same day. Possibly, if you're very lucky, it will still be there the next day, and every other one thereafter.

Toddlers and others with 'Learner' plates, are permitted to have a few accidents, but those of us advanced beyond the age of five, should accept that this is a given.

I blame speech therapy myself, all this multitasking isn't good for children such as mine. They can talk, they can drink, but not both at the same time; it's too distracting, too confusing. It they continue to try to talk and drink at the same time surely they'll all drown? There again, if they keep missing their mouths and filling their laps instead, perhaps I am worrying unduly.

There is no hidden agenda, your cake hole [translation = mouth] is in the middle of your face. There is no conspiracy theory here. What is the problem? Why are you making such difficulties for yourselves?

I am exasperated to the point of wrath, driven to an early grave: “here lieth a woman buried beneath a multitude of failed campaigns, and far to many plastic straws that are non biodegradable.'

I stomp away from the table to make a quick cup of coffee to restore my sanity. The coffee gurgles. My body moves on automatic pilot, a smooth, efficient flow of movement. I grab the carton from the fridge, line up the cup, but my brain fails to register as I miss and pour the milk into the sink.

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In, Out, Shake it all about

Autism or no autism, some things are beyond the pale. Bear in mind, that for me, musical appreciation would guide me to be more of a ballroom dancer type. A dignified glide, so as not to dislodge the tiara nor muss the corsage. I believe that young people today, do not favour [translation = favor] such pastimes, preferring more aerobic forms of dance. [translation = I am allergic to anything that might make me glow {sub translation = perspire}] But I digress.

Back to the 'shake it all about.' Hold that thought. No! Not that one, delete that naughty thought and go back to the children's perspective. [translation = the innocents] That's right, the Hokey Cokey thought. [translation = Hokey Pokey] Now we're on the same page! Think of this, as a 'not so scholarly critique' or explanation, of this children's dance, possibly from the viewpoint of one, or maybe two, autistic children. Acknowledge or deny as many as you deem appropriate.
For current purposes [translation = controlled clinical environment] we will ignore issues such as the volume of the music, be that self generated, by singing [translation = unlikely] or utilizing some form of modern technology e.g. hifi, stereo, radio, tapes, CD's, records[?] etc. [translation = that's about as modern as we get around here.]

We'll also ignore the following; company. [translation = who is with us] Where we are? [translation = home or somewhere public and scary = synonymous] Variables such as simply having a bad day, any current phobias or obsessions. [e.g. the need to have arms clamped tightly to the body and that legs be pinned together at all times. A bit like a soldier standing to attention but in this instance, for the purpose of self protection.] We want to keep this as simple as possible. With me so far?

So, we have the familiar annoying tune, [translation = temporarily mislaid inner child] with words, simple words. [translation = lets not get bogged down in the speech delays] Although the matter of prepositions can be a nightmare, we will dismiss those too. [translation = in, out, up, down, between and we'll ignore the issue of 'shaking' whilst we're about it] Whilst they know all of these words, then are not considered important enough to use appropriately. On the whole they are surplus to requirements, afterall most of them are pretty small words. Generally speaking they prefer bigger words, multiple syllable words such as 'voracious' or 'commercial.' They may not be able to pronounce them correctly, but they still prefer them. However, such terms are not much use, if you're trying to dance and sing at the same time. [translation = unless you know otherwise?]

Right, so now we've cleared the pathway of clutter, we can begin.
I lied. There are a couple more issues that we need dismiss. [translation = eliminate for the purposes of this discussion] Independence. An autistic child is often independent. By this, I mean that they are on their own programme with their own agenda, as many children are. However, in two particular cases, the cases of my particular sons, [maybe others] when they are doing whatever it is that they are doing, they object strongly to being asked to do something else. This phenomenon is known as a 'transitioning problem.' [Sorry! Challenge] It is an issue for many children, but autistic children are far more tenacious.

This is linked with a secondary [translation = probably far more important] issue of motivation. [translation = I left the best for last] It goes something like this:
Hunker down, gain eye contact, arrange facial features into animated expression, moderate tone of voice to sound excited, use hand gestures assuming that you are not guiding the child's body to orientate them towards you.
“Come on you lot! We are going to play the Hokey Cokey?” Always a statement, never an invitation, as the answer will always be 'no.' [translation = guaranteed.]
“It's not the Hokey Cokey Mom, it's the Hokey Pokey! They're never gonna play if you use the wrong name!” Valid criticism, as always. I put an arm around the shoulder of each boy in the hope of conducting a positive energy force into their little bodies.

“Nah, dat is boring.” Simultaneous hurdles; stop what you are doing [translation = transition] do something more fun [translation = motivation]
“Come on, it will be fun!”
“Nay, dat is not fun.” Child may be reflecting upon the challenge of co-ordinating body parts, following instructions, balance, and such like, all of which have negative connotations because of the perceived difficulty. [translation = which is a reality too] So, just assuming that you have battled your way to this point, you probably have insufficient energy reserves to sing and dance too. [translation = flat battery]

{Sub translation = who needs a tiara anyway?}

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