Monday, December 18, 2006

Getting Someone Autistic to Look at You and to Understand What is Happening

One of the things that I find exasperating about Alan's autism is that things go on under his nose, so to speak. He isn't aware of them because in RDI terms, he doesn't always reference. His referencing is improving. It will get much better when we can get him to realize that it is more fun to know what is going on.

What is RDI, you may wonder? It is a kind of therapy for people with autism. If you would like to know more about it, there is a 32 page downloadable booklet on the following Web site:

The major stumbling block presently is using imperative language. We have commanded Alan through much of his life. Do this, don't do that. For a year or so, I have been using declarative language more and more. It is still really difficult for me to declare something that will get Alan to think rather than follow a command. Neuro-typical children (NT) begin watching you, and everyone around them, as infants. They see and imitate.

We are having a "do-over" with Alan. That isn't to say that we didn't do all the usual things to get him to attach to us and be aware of the people near to him. Near to him both physically and in a relationship sense: in the immediate family, extended family and close friends. That has been a huge stumbling block for me. You see, I have been a La Leche League Leader since a couple of years after my second child was born. To be a Leader, one must have breastfed and nurtured one's child or children. Don and I certainly have striven to do that. The success of our older children and their desire to be close to us as adults lets me know that we have been "attachment parents." I felt like a failure many times when Alan's autism got between us. That is, I couldn't manage to get him to realize what was happening. We have to lead him to care. We have to be more fun that the dialog that he runs in his head. We are competing with Jib Jab and every other thing he finds interesting. Somehow we have to be more interesting. By that isn't meant only more entertaining. We also need to be so important to him that he wants to follow our lead an to know what we are up to.

We do have a consultant and there are stages to guide us so that we can sense where he lacks the precise social understanding, if you will, and engage him just at the edge of his present competence. It is a tall order. We have a long journey. At the same time, we can measure progress. He is referencing us more. We are going into a two week period where there will be much going on. Many dynamic situations will occur. We are adding Dana and Kal to the family for twelve days and Cate will be here for two and a half days also. Even though Alan is sick with a new cold, we need to all find ways to keep him with us and keep him guessing. And we also need to video so we can find out how to repair the interactions. I will also attend a parent meeting tomorrow night. These always yield new suggestions and a feeling of unity in our purpose. All of us have children with autism and desire remediation so our kids can enjoy more happy and useful lives. We are giving our children scaffolding so that they can develop relationships, have interesting work that challenges them and hopefully, to live on their own when they want to and to make their own way in the world.



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