Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Talking Without Words
For a couple of weeks, we have been trying to increase our gestures and facial expressions. We sent off a video to our consultant. She replied that we are doing a great job of communicating without speaking, and that Alan understands us. However, our goal is to not only get this accomplished, but to elicit gestures and facial expressions from Alan.
I have watched Tammy do this with her daughter, Pamela, with great success. I wish I could import Tammy to teach me how to do this with Alan. I asked the consultant if we can talk to Alan a bit about what we expect him to do. She said yes, but not to over-explain, but rather to introduce the idea to him and then set up scenes where he is most likely to respond. One is to change places with him...say at the table, moving only when the guide nods or smiles. The direction of movement can also be done by tilting the head or moving the eyes in the desired direction.
There are a lot of videos of cute little kiddos learning to do this. Their patient parents have set up back yard soccer, walking in the mall and other scenes where success has happened. Last night, at the parent meeting, a dad was showing how his son had learned to take turns playing a board game, with only the gestures and noises he and the grandfather made. Dad said that the little one hardly stayed at the table to play Chutes and Ladders when it was first brought out.
So, along with our holiday preparations tomorrow night, we are going to try to capture Alan on a video to send to our consultant. We need to slow down our actions to speed up his success.

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Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Setting the Scene
One of the old objectives for me was to learn how to use the video camera. The new one is tinier than the new still camera. I will have to put it onto the tripod and get it ready to film. I have done this, but only with Don there to help me if I couldn't figure out what to do next.

One of the new objectives is to have a meaningful exchange with Alan using only gestures. He is familiar with this a bit, but we haven't done anything from start to finish recently.

I bought a diffuser. I am thinking that we can set it up together, with me miming the steps to him to carry out.

Don is away so this is the perfect time to try this. Tomorrow, after I have been to the dentist in the morning and we have finished our afternoon activities, or perhaps tomorrow evening, I plan to try to get this done.


Sunday, December 02, 2007

Teaching Alan to Earn and Spend
Alan has money that has been given to him. He doesn't spend it unless we give him an amount specifically to buy a bottle of water at the Teen Center or for a movie ticket, for example. Alan will be sixteen years old in five weeks. We decided it is time for him to begin to pay for some things out of his own money and to do some chore to earn money. I also have a scheme to have him do other things to earn but we have to begin somewhere.
Since I fell and hurt my ankle about three years ago, we have paid to have our front lawn mowed by the mow-blow-and-go guys. They do a decent but quick job. I have, however, had a couple of problems with the office, so I decided that since Alan does the back lawn mowing fine, he would be able to do the front lawn for pay. It is a bit larger and has to be done every week to ten days. Don and I don't care so much if the back lawn is shaggy, but our neighbors keep their front lawns trimmed, either doing it themselves, or more usually, having a service do it.
I informed Alan that he would be expected to pay for some things that his Dad pays for now. We are starting with some Christmas gifts. He had an idea of one thing for Kal that I thought would put a large dent in what Alan already has saved, so I suggested he think of something a bit less expensive so that he could afford it. He did think it over and agree that maybe he would choose something Kal would like that did not cost quite so much.
In the new year, I plan to have Alan track his earnings and his expenses on something like Quick Books. I hope he becomes quite proficient at figuring out his cash flow.