Wordy Wednesday “ the Incredible 5 Point Scale”

“Aha! No guessing required then?”
“Indeed. I thought I’d make it easy this week.”
“So how much is your commission?”
“Oodles upon oodles.”
“No link to Amazon?”
“You don’t need it, just some coloured paper, a black pen, cardboard and some sticky backed plastic?”
“Sticky backed what?”
“Laminater to you dearie.”
“And why exactly would I want one of these. I don’t have any autistic kids?”
“Well try it on yourself and if it works then you might have a go with the kiddie winkies.”
“Again, why?”
“Well maybe you have little kids that don’t have many words, or kids that lose their words when they get all het up.”
“The word “tantrum” does spring to mind.”
“Do you always know what’s upsetting them?”
“Sometimes is obvious but other times they’re wailing so much I just can’t figure it out.”
“Well that’s when this comes in handy.”
“Quite often I can get really, really upset about something, I can feel the pressure building, breathe faster, heart racing, that sort of thing.”
“Me too.”
“We’re adults, we can usually recognize what’s happening to us, but children often don’t realize that they are heating up.”
“I suppose. But how would this help?”
“The idea is that you catch them as their emotions are rising. If you start with when they’re having a good day…”
“Or moment!”
“True! Then they can learn to associate feeling okie dokie with green, nice, calm and happy.”
“Then you want to catch them when they’re just starting to get upset ‘yellow’ or already upset ‘orange’ but not when they’ve completely lost it and in the red zone.
“You know, that’s quite a useful skill to acquire for anyone. Bio rhythms. ”
“Indeed. Wish someone had introduced it to me when I was little. One of the things that I most like about this, is that I’m being active as a parent. Sometimes I can feel so helpless but this helps the communication. Even if they’ve lost their words they can still point at the right colour, the numbers helped for one of mine in particular.”
“I’m not sure about your colour scheme though. I often associate being in a rage with black or blinding white.”
“Adapt and survive, just figure out what works for you.”
“So you could probably adapt that to other things.”
“Like…one of mine has a tough time with our bedtime routine.”
“Really? Sounds like you’d be better off with “sequencing” and “social stories” for that one.”
“Another time, another post.”
“Could I use it when he gets in a tizzy about sharing?”
“Sure. Just about any tizzy you experience, it’s very flexible.”
“Yeah, so that might help get things under control.”
“I hope so. One of the most fabulous experiences I’ve had is helping them recognize what it feels like to be in a 5 and then gradually, gradually, gradually oozing back down to a green 1.”
“We Americans call that ’empowering.'”
“Hmm, for both of us!”
“Geez, I bet it took forever until they grasped the concept?”
“You would think so wouldn’t you, but actually they ‘got’ it straight away. It took some practice, but it certainly tapped into something that’s maybe innate in all of us.”
“Ooo a bit like those “colour me beautiful” things in the 80’s?”
“Don’t date yourself dearie.”
“So are you gonna tell me about the calming techniques?”
“Good grief no, that would take forever. You could write tomes just on that one subject.”
“Another time perhaps?”
“There are a zillion books out there on the subject already.”
“Could you recommend one?”
“Well it’s a bit tricky as there isn’t really a one size fits all version.”
“Wriggled out of that one well. See you then. Cheers dears!”
“Hey, don’t pinch my line!”
“O.k. How about, toodle pip!”
“See ya babe.”

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Truthful Tuesday – the sin of pride


“Actually I'm going out to Target today to grab a few things.”
“Grab? I hope you're going to pay for them first. What an odd way to describe a shopping trip, very uncouth.”
“Mmm I hadn't noticed that had slipped into usage around here.”
“So what are you planning to buy?”
“Presents, probably Transformers and a table cloth.”
“That's hardly a trip, two things.”
“Believe me, two things will be a miracle, if we can manage it.”
“Ah you're taking the boys with you then?”
“I am.”
“No-one of has a birthday for ages though?”
“It's for a friend's birthday party, which makes it even more challenging.”
“Really. Why?”
“Because the birthday boy likes the same stuff as my boys, namely Transformers, so I have to buy something that they like for some one else. That's tough for any child.”
“You haven't managed to instill generosity into them yet?”
“Actually, they're naturally generous.”
“Doesn't sound like it to me.”
“Well this is a special scenario. Buy your favourite thing and give it to someone else.”
“Hmm. I can't think why you're buying a tablecloth.”
“To cover the table.”
“Don't be fascetious, you know what I mean.”
“Actually I don't really. Why shouldn't I buy another table cloth?”
“Another? Do you mean you already have one?”
“I have lots.”
“Lots? I hope you're not using best linen for every day use?”
“I have one or two that are 'best,' but I have loads that are everyday kind.”
“How extraordinary. You do surprise me.”
“Why is that so surprising?”
“Well, with your lot…….I mean……..what's the point?”
“The point is to slow the spillage. It's like putting a huge towel on the table to minimize the fall out.”
“Ooo dear. How vile. What an unpleasant picture you paint.”
“Really? Isn't that what most people use them for, to minimize the mess, catch the crumbs and spills.”
“Yes, but even so. It's more important as a decorative feature, to dress the table, make it look attractive.”
“Good point. That's a handy by-product.”
“Surely you don't think that they appreciate a beautifully dressed table? Are they that sophisticated?”
“I have no idea, but I'm sure they appreciate not being dosed by a glass of water that spins out of control.”
“Oh dear. You know you forget!”
“I do?”
“Yes. I've seen them eating. In a restaurant…… that time.”
“Oh yes, I had forgotten. So?”
“Well I remember it as clear as day.”
“Mayhem, absolute mayhem. The whole thing was ghastly enough to give me indigestion.”
“Hmm, it can be a little overwhelming if you're not used to it.”
“I wouldn't care to get used to it.”
“That was over a year ago. We've been practicing since then, every weekend.”
“Practicing? How do you 'practice' going to a restaurant? I've never heard of such a thing.”
“It's just as it sounds.”
“How grueling. It always reminds me of……..”
“Oh you know……….”
“Those Chimpanzees and the tea party?”
“No, no, no…..er let me see……stop teasing me I can’t think straight.”
“Clowns throwing cream pies?”
“Stop it! No…..er. I know! The Mad Hatter's Tea party?”
“You know, everyone constantly on the move and someone falls asleep in the middle of the table.”
“Ah, yes he was emotionally exhausted after trying to eat those fries with the little black flecks on them.”
“Don't remind me. I've never heard a child scream so loudly. So embarrassing. Everyone looking at us as if we'd been sticking pins in him.”
“Were they?”
“Were they what?”
“Were they looking at us?”
“Don't you remember?”
“Not really. I was to busy trying to persuade him to get out from under the table.”
“Oh dear yes. I've never experienced anything like it. What possessed you to choose such a noisy restaurant?”
“Easier to blend in.”
“What? Oh I see what you mean. I just kept quiet.”
“You! Quiet?”
“Actually you were quite quiet if I remember correctly. Why was that?”
“You know, the truth is, you were so busy with them all and I just wanted to help but I had no idea what to do? I suppose I just don't know them well enough but it made me feel so helpless and useless. I just wanted to ease the situation, calm the chaos but………”
“Oh I'm so sorry. I didn't really notice at the time.”
“You know me. I'm happy to roll my sleeves up and muck in with the rest of you, but I found I was just out of my depth. I've never been in that situation before when everyone is looking at you, mouths open, tut tutting……..it was horrible……….it made me feel quiet tearful and I knew that wouldn't help anyone.”
“Don't worry. It really doesn't bother me much any more.”
“Really. People can think what they think. I can't make anyone think differently from how they do. We'll just keep practicing regardless.”
“Really? Do you really mean that?”
“Yes I do. Actually I'll tell you a secret. A confession if you will. Four years ago it was torture, a marathon but only, or rather partly, because I let myself get upset. I wanted them to be quiet, or quietish, just for an hour whilst we were there. Talk about deluded.”
“Yes. You see by my forties I was already set in my public persona. How to behave. I was just too self conscious, or embarrassed if you will. I was o.k. doing what I do in private without anyone looking, but in public I was too embarrassed to do the things that worked, because I knew they'd look odd, or rather even more odd. Too much of a dent to my dignity.”
“Such as?”
“Well when he dives under the table you can't use the ordinary kinds of discipline that people expect, because they simply don't work. I basically didn't want to get under the table with him, calm him down, perhaps use the Incredible Five Point Scale, practice breathing, perhaps a bit of shoulder massage, all the stuff I'm quite happy to do at home.”
“I was making the situation worse. The children expected me to behave in a certain way. I was, and still am, their scaffolding, and in public I just bailed on them. It's no wonder it was all so dreadful, but the 'dreadful' was really all in my own head.”
“I basically caved to public opinion. I allowed a bunch of strangers to dictate my own behaviour. I'd be angry that people thought they were just spoilt and badly behaved. It took me a while to realize what I was doing and why I was doing it.”
“Hmm. What then?”
“I just decided to do in public what I was doing at home, the magic of consistency. It wasn't an over-night turn around, but gradually I found we were all moving in the right direction.”
“Geez it takes such a long time.”
“Yes but they say that ‘pride comes before a fall.’ I’d fallen into a huge pit, entirely of my own making.”
“By the by.”
“I don’t think anyone really notices if you dive under the table. Most people are too busy with their own business anyway. With hindsight, I think I must have had a massive ego to think that anyone would have been the least bit interested.”
“Do you know…….now I come to think of it…..apart from that one time with you………I can’t remember when I last saw someone under a table in a restaurant, if ever?”
“Well there you go then!”

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5 a day [translation = a breather]

Occupational therapy is a profession for professionals. Mere amateurs should steer well clear. [translation = not dabble] I leave my daughter in the car in the garage and herd the boys inside. She remains for a few minutes, unhindered and free, so that she can regroup and recalibrate her hearing system after a twenty minute drive, with continuous screaming down the freeway. [translation = stereo] [Note to self – contact architect re sound proofing the garage] I hope that the Child Protective Services don't honour us with an unexpected visit.

Whilst she has a little breather, I debate whether to commence homework straight away, before they become engrossed, [translation = locked into a preferred activity] or whether to let them cool off too? Why are these kinds of children not fitted with a meter, like a thermometer so that you can accurately read them? I glance at my untouched list of 'things to do.'

I park one on the trampolene and ask him if he can beat his record, whilst I snap the timer on in front of his eyes. [translation = bad choice as this reinforces his 'I am the winner' mentality] The other one is deposited on the wedge, a six foot square affair that he can burrow into. [translation = a bit like having a massage]
I remember hearing on the radio that most children are over-scheduled [translation = busy] which makes them over tired and stressed, amongst other things. The same is true for us but not everyone is equipped to acknowledge or deal with the situation in the same manner. In that way we are fortunate. We have the gear [translation = equipment] and we make the time, because having these kind of children means that you don't have a choice in the matter. You give them what their bodies need or prepare to take cover. [translation = duck]

One of the brackets on my braces snaps to punish me for eating raw almonds. I can feel the tooth beginning to take flight, released. It is quite disconcerting, especially when it makes me realize that this probably means I am closet bondage freak.
“Can you deliver me to the bathroom please?” he asks puffily, but with perfect fluidity, as he has reached his goal of 101 bounces in under a minute. I lead him by the hand to the less preferred bathroom, the one with the quarry tiles that offend his feet, such that he needs moral support to attempt such a feat. I lean against the sink awaiting his performance, as he looks around the room for visual entertainment. I say nothing.
“You know what?” he squeaks.
“What dear?”
“I fink dat maybe I am not needing infinity bounces today.”
“Really! What made you think you needed infinity bounces?”
“Well, cos my body woz all, woz all……I don know.” He peters out, frustrated. I try and think of a suitable word that describes the frenetic energy trapped inside him. Something to help him verbalise and acknowledge what it is?
“Do you mean,…..'wriggles' or 'itchy,' perhaps?” Not one of my better attempts admittedly, but I'm tired too, and my nerves are still jangling from the journey. I should have stolen a few bounces myself.
“So the main thing is, that you don't need infinity now, you feel better?”
“I can see that you look like a lovely green 1.” “[translation = Incredible 5 point scale]”
His betterness is demonstrated as he finishes up, sequences through the steps to restore clinical hygiene standards and replaces the hand towel. [translation = stuffs it into the ring. Don't criticize this is 'task completion.'] As the toilet flushes, he pounds his forehead into my stomach covering his ears against the rush of water and adds, “I fink you are right, I fink it is the wriggleitch.”
Oh dear, that's not good. Why couldn't I have thought of something a little more appropriate? Another piece of terminology that will require translation.

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ABA – the incredible 5 point scale

[From a couple of years back]

For Scribbit’s Write Away Context.

My incoherent speech delayed youngest son howls at me.

Not a mellow yellow, more of a fire breathing red. How I long for the calming, cool waters of green.

His words, if they are words, are so distorted that I can't make out their meaning?

He's at full volume, [Level 10, where level 1 would constitute a whisper] caused by inferior milk temperatures. I make a mental note to summarily dismiss the cook. ABA save me! [Not the American Bar Association, Bankers, Basketball, Booksellers nor Birding.]

I hear the dulcet Irish tones of ABA guru [The Applied Behavioral Analysis chappie ] float over me; “and what is the functionality of the particular behavior exhibited?” Haven't the foggiest notion right now, unless it's to drive me completely batty, in which case, he is exceeding expectations. “We need to figure out the function of the behavior. Is it for attention or a tangible outcome, is he avoiding or escaping something, has this become a ritual (self stimulatory behavior)?”

This kind of language to the parent of the newly diagnosed!

Probably, all of the above at this stage, but who knows? Certainly not me, especially when the noise level is high enough to make the few brain cells I have left fuse together.

What is the cure for autism? All I can think of is ear plugs or protectors, for coping not curing.

When he was born in the hospital, the nurse said he was the loudest she'd ever heard. I thought she was joking. They should never have let me leave the maternity ward without ear muffs at the very least. Expelled and ejected from the hospital in a wheel chair, swaddled baby, ear muffs and 96 degree heat.

“I am having a bad day!” he manages to bellow.


Coherent speech. You and me both, matey.

It is at moments like this that I want a time machine to whiz me back a couple of decades so that I can change careers to something more useful. There again, I've already been fired from my post as cook.
I reach over for his 5 point scale, [see Ref 1] and rub his back with my other hand until I can persuade him to glance at me. He obliges me with a quick flit of the pupils to see it in my hand. I point to the five, the red square which indicates to him that I know that he's in the middle of an explosion. This is to help him recognize that what he is currently experiencing, is a five, that this is what it feels like to be exploding. This is sometimes called bio feedback. [Ref 1 Psychobabble]

I use no words, and neither does he. This is more effective. Speech can be a dreadful impediment to effective communication. After a few more minutes, the noise dissipates as I rub his back.

I point to the four, orange, as he gradually comes down the scale. As he sits up from the floor the noise actually stops. He points to the three, yellow. I encourage him to take deep tummy breaths, called stomach breathing.

I flip my finger between two and three, as I'm not sure where he is? He helps me by pointing to the 2, blue. I tell him that we're going to clean him up now, and fetch a tepid wet flannel, to wipe his face. We avoid the tricky areas of nose blowing, as well as eye dabbing, to ensure that we don't inadvertently provoke an additional meltdown. I have learned that anything that might loosely be described as a 'cavity' on this child, is a 'no go' area. But that's because Brits are 'medically challenged.'

We spend an additional seven minutes tinkering with the milk temperature, if not calmly, at least without the screams. Eventually, I get it right. He sucks his hot [ 1 minute and 7 seconds in the microwave] chocolate milk through a straw. His delicate little mouth shuns the texture of the lip of a cup. It also has the fringe benefit of free therapy, by practicing his lip closure. His fingers avoid contact with the cup and the straw. Hands free beverage consumption. Now there's a skill I didn't know existed? One tentative and brave digit, reaches out to brush the 1, green. Hallelujah!

Ref 1 – I am unsure if it's acceptable to mention the 'Incredible Five Point Scale' or whether that constitutes 'flagrant advertising' resulting in carnage to the blogging system? [translation = please advise?]
Ref 2 – Psychobabble – phrases and terminology used effortlessly and accurately by all American persons from birth onwards, but the rest of the world finds
A] incomprehensible
B] laughable
C] tune out
D] any / all / none of the above

I apologise for any stray ‘u’s that I may have missed.

Ignore the zeds.

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