Yale Undergraduate Seminars on Autism

Breakthrough! I'll post my thoughts on this subject later, as I have only had the opportunity to watch Behavioral Treatments, Dr. Michael Powers. I just want to say that if you want to understand behaviors of Autism/ASD's at their core, what to do with them, why it is important to do anything at all, this guy is phenomenal at the explanation. 

I plan on watching the remaining videos at some point. I highly recommend checking this stuff out!


Take THAT expectations!

Sometimes, the professional world helps me to gain perspective and get better handle on what we're dealing with. Having expectations is helpful, in part. It is helpful to know, though he began reading at age 2, that his understanding or comprehension of the text he has the ability to read MAY be well below the level of his reading. He actually MAY not be able to comprehend what he is reading AT ALL. And when it comes to more advanced fiction, later on, he MAY have a lot more trouble.

Long ago, he started laughing as he read. So, we've known that expectation was thrown out the window. He totally thinks some of the text/pictures are hilarious, especially in his Curious George books. It is quite entertaining to see.

But, yesterday, we got a new magazine subscription in the mail from Memaw. Highlights, 'High Five'. What a TREAT!! Page 12. Word Math Problems.  He got every single one of them correct, immediately.

"One spaceman is in the truck. Another one is climbing in. When he gets in, how many will be in the truck?"  Two

"Two spacemen are on the table. Look! Another one is climbing up the table leg. When he gets to the top, how many will be on the table?"   Three

"A spaceman is going for a ride on the dog's back. Another one wants to ride, too! When he jumps on, how many will be on the dog?"  Two

Take THAT Expectations! :)

"Ages 4+"

I don't usually have to look long or hard to find something to keep me laughing. With a 2 year old around my ankles and a 3.5 not far away, I am in constant struggle to keep my giggles under control.

You mom's know what I'm talking about. It's that kind of thing where they're getting into something they're not supposed to, but it's SO funny you just have to step away for a few moments before declaring their misbehavior.

Or, it's the thing that you so badly don't want to turn into an 'issue' and so you really, I mean REALLY shouldn't laugh in front of them.... but then you do.... and you just can't stop.  I see you over there laughing. You know what I'm talking about...

So, today, I was waiting for quiet to rush over the house (we call it naptime). I was sitting here pecking away at the previous blog post when DS came to me so upset that he didn't get to play at all between school/lunch/nap. I conceded to allow him 30 minutes of play time before he went back in for nap. I felt it was a very reasonable concession.

He picked a board game we haven't played in a very long time. There's a good reason that game was on clearance... it's no good. I set him up right near where I was and went back to my typing. And I hear.... 

"No, No, Nooooo. But, it says, 2-3 players"

"What do you mean buddy?"

"You have to have 2-3 players. Play with me."

"Ok. Be right there." No arguing with that one.

We played a little.... not having instructions or any real desire to find any, I just made up some simple rules and we played for a few minutes. All the while I was waiting for him to find the flaws in the made up game. But, he didn't. He happily played along.

Until. He looked back over at the box and studied it for a moment...

"It says Ages 4+. I'm 3. We're all done. I will play again on [insert birthdate] when I turn 4. Mommy, you are 31, so YOU can play LOTS of times."

I could not contain my laughter. So literal. So, well, obedient really. Hey, it DOES say ages 4 and up. Who can argue with that? 
And we were done.


Glorious Token Monsters

Mon, March 8: 2 Green tokens
Tue, March 9: 3 Green tokens
Wed, March 9: 5 Green tokens
Thr, March 10: 7 Green tokens
Fri, March 11: 5 Green tokens
Sat, March 12: 6 Green tokens
Sun, March 13: 6 Green tokens

I anxiously awaited meeting with DS's Psychologist again. Bottom line, I was very confused on how to meet him developmentally, understand him developmentally, and still parent and discipline appropriately. I knew there was a disconnect. 

When we're getting dressed for school and he won't put on his clothes, time out doesn't work. He's already upset, he gets even more upset and in turn, we're late for school, and he's even MORE upset about that.  He can do it. He just won't. I realize there is a road block besides disobedience, but I haven't quite put my finger on it. He is an adorably manipulative little guy, and there's not a thread in me that believes that he doesn't need the right kind of discipline.

We implemented a visual schedule, broken down into Morning, Afternoon, Evening, and Nighttime. It works wonderfully and we only have to use it when we NEED to, which makes me feel better about not getting him SO sucked into a routine that he is depending fully on the support. From experience, that's not good for him. 

So, that was one piece. We can breathe a little easier knowing that when he knows what is going to happen and how it happens, he does a LOT better.

We used a coin jar/treasure box system for a short while, but it was not effective. We told him to make 'good choices'. He really understood what good choices were. When he made good choices, he would get coins. 10 coins and he would get a treasure. DS would just fixate on getting his 10 coins. Then, he would constantly make up rules about how he was to get his rewards, "I will eat one bite and you will give me 5 rewards, then I will have 10 and I will get a treasure. 5 + 5 = 10. Ok? If I have 3 tokens, you will give me 7 more tokens and then I will get a treasure. yep. Ok.". Ha! The coins were just a new fixation and we finally took that away.

So, last week, I finally met with the Psychologist. 
Her suggestions: 
Try the coin jar again.
Remove the # qualification of how many he needs to get. 
Also, remove the words 'good choices' because the reality is that getting dressed and not jumping on the bed are NOT really choices. He is now to 'follow directions'. When he doesn't we use as natural of a consequence as we can. Naptime or getting dressed, we don't use time out. His delaying is meant to get out of doing it because it's not easy for him. Time out only makes that worse. A behavior like hitting or something dangerous, time out is still the consequence. This helps both with all the delaying AND with his understanding of time out. He seems to 'get it' much better now. He doesn't NOT get to put on his clothes just because he doesn't want to. 

So, if he isn't following directions, we either prompt him that he won't get a reward if he doesn't do it the first time and when that doesn't work, we hand-over-hand do it 'for/with' him. Telling him that following directions means he must do it the 1st time was a REALLY good thing for him.  It gives him a very clear expectation and he knows if he doesn't do it right now, there is no reward. When we help hand-over-hand, he is NOT happy about it and finally ends up saying, 'No, I need to do it by myself.'

He can also get rewards for using 'nice words'. Again, he must do it the 1st time in order to get that reward, so I prompt the nice words and the whining diminishes.

The coin jar/treasure box was totally revamped: Enter Token Monsters

One for DS, one for Baby sis. 

As you can see, there is a paper on the front of each racquetball jar that depicts the 'line' their tokens [poker chips] must cross before getting the coveted treasure from the treasure box.

We thought long and hard about all of DS's quirky little obsessions in the making of these monsters. The tokens had to be big enough so they could fall differently each time he inserts them so he would never have to get the same amount of tokens. If that happens, the little square on the front is removable and I can reposition it to change the goal # of tokens. So far, so good. No counting. Just pure excitement.

In fact, he was SO excited, SO motivated over these tokens, the responsibility of 'feeding' his own monster, we decided to up the anty. 

"If you go potty ALL BY YOURSELF [aka no prompting], you will get a Green token. A Green token can be fed to your monster AND you get an immediate trip to the treasure box"

As you can see above, it's working. Like a charm! He's so excited and proud of going potty by himself [pee only for now]. He's even graduated to flushing, washing hands, and drying his hands before he comes out of the bathroom. Insert Applause! The big difference between these potty successes and all the others in the past are that he is motivated by the reward, but he isn't going back to the potty standing and waiting for more pee JUST to get a reward. He is actually staying dry. All. Day. Long.

We're more relaxed and both of the kids get to take part in the wonderfulness of FOLLOWING DIRECTIONS the FIRST TIME, Using nice words, and pottying independently!!! We're 11 days in and it's still working!

All Glory to God for allowing the right people at the right time into our lives to help come up with these awesome ideas.

"And my God will supply every need of yours according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus. To our God and Father be glory forever and ever. Amen." 
Phil 4:19-20