T-Shirt Power, Activate! Also, Autism and Independent Work
I had Leelo wear this new t-shirt today:
And it worked! He had a wonderful, sweet, happy, interactive, calm, aggression-free, spontaneous-pottying morning. Oh yes, I believe in truth in advertisting.
Here is what he looked like on top:
(We are doing his favorite I-sing-you-repeat song cycle, all about looking at eyebrows, wanting to watch the Teletubbies, and wanting to go on the computer. I have to get a video of him singing this with his sisters joining in.)
Forgot to add amidst the grumping yesterday: Leelo is doing so well at school that Supervisor M is not as freaked out as she could have been about Therapist L leaving our home therapy program. Leelo is actually learning at school; school is doing what school is supposed to do, and his home program -- while important -- is no longer his only legitimate educational and skills-sharpening environment.
Yesterday Supervisor M showed me a remarkable video of Leelo at school, doing a two-minute-long routine of entering his classroom, taking off his jacket and backpack, putting them on the correct hooks, taking out his lunch box, putting it on the correct shelf, taking out the notebook the teachers and I use to communicate, putting it in the notebook bin, checking his picture schedule, and then going to the potty. His para/aide gave him a couple of prompts but they were actually not necessary as he was already en route.
Our boy, he is a capable, smart guy. He just needs guidelines and predictable structure. This includes play. This is a heavy component of his home program. Supervisor M and Therapist L have done an amazing job of training him to have structured "Leelo time," where he has activities (puzzles, cars, bead lacing, electric toy keyboard) on different trays and a picture schedule of the activities, and he spends up to fifteen independent minutes checking the schedule and working through the activities at his own pace. Should get a video of this too. It's a great skill set for autistic kids, and a portable one.
Here are some generalizations and specifics about Leelo's independent at-home work, taken from last week's training session with Therapist A and Therapist R (formerly Babysitter A and Rosie the aide), and posted with Supervisor M's permission:
Strategies for working at home:
Goals: give him functional life skills, independent skills.
Very important not to talk with child while doing an independent chore.
Putting his clothes away in the correct drawers. Good for kids w/autism b/c is matching and categorization, very visual task; doesn't require language.
Initially started w/sorting clothes.
If you give him a large pile, might become overstimulated, so reduce size of pile; put it in a laundry basked so he can pull it out.
Good task: have him sort and match his own socks.
Next step: roll, if too hard from a fine motor perspective, just fold in half over each other otherwise.
He enjoys this task.
Setting the table
Supervisor M shows video of Leelo setting the table at school. He sets all the places, for all seven children because the other children aren't able to do it yet.
He takes the placemats from the pile, and puts them in the proper places at each table. Then he gets a reinforcer (straw in this case).
Currently his aide stands nearby but does not engage him. Eventually she will move away and look busy during Leelo's tasks.
Has to be an activity that he can do all by himself.
Using a TEACHH system. Important to have "portable" system so that child can generalize the skills and not rely on specific place and setting.
Leelo can currently do independent work for fifteen minutes. Even some open-ended activities (teletubbies to play with, play-doh--rolling and patting, cutting "pancakes") whereas used to be only closed-ended activities (puzzles, stringing beads). Therapist stays nearby and watches for off-task activities.
At home, should keep a TEACHH list on the wall of activities that he might want to do.
Sometimes I wonder if these strategies couldn't be applied to Iz as well, as she never seems to know what to do with herself unless prompted. (Ep: Shut it.)