Saturday, April 25, 2009

Video: 6 Years Old - "Get back in bed!"

Lizzie loves it when her brothers, Andrew and Noah, get in trouble. She is a constant tattle-tale, and in play, she realized that she can get them in trouble over and over and over again. She loves me to play dollhouse with her and finds more and more ways to get the boys in trouble.

Friday, April 17, 2009

Who's to say what's "appropriate" anyway?!

I could not help starting to dream of Lizzie's future profession as a Park Ranger ever since we went camping last weekend. As I watched her in the wilderness, she just seemed to fit. It was like this was where she belonged.

There are so many things that make Lizzie a bit strange here in the suburbs or what we all call "real life". Many behaviors Lizzie exhibits are labeled as inappropriate by most professionals. I realized that if I place her in the right setting, her behavior is completely appropriate and even productive.

Lizzie can been seen many times throughout the week, walking around the outside of our house collecting sticks and leaves. I see this and try to encourage her to make "stick soup". I know that's just my need to make her fit into what I consider to be purposeful play. Although, let's be honest, I don't know how many people that are really gonna sit down and eat stick soup. Out there in the wilderness, this desire to pick up sticks is simply called collecting firewood.

Lizzie loves to climb. I often think that she looks around the room, finds the highest possible place and puts together a plan to get herself there. People might find it strange that the kitchen counters are sometimes her dinner table or that we allow Lizzie to sit on the top of the couch to watch TV. Yes, I will admit, her behavior does seem odd. But, while camping, this desire to climb is even esteemed as the extreme sport, mountain climbing.

Lizzie loves to throw rocks into the water. Each time we pass the little creek in our neighborhood, we have to stop and throw rocks in the water. She could do this for hours. Most would think that it is not normal to do this for such a long period of time. Afterall, there are so many more important, more productive activities we could be doing, right?  But, when camping, "skipping rocks" is considered a favorite past time! I think we could all do this for hours!

Why do we have to be so productive all the time anyway? What's wrong with collecting sticks, climbing and throwing rocks and just enjoying the earth that God provided for us?  Maybe Lizzie isn't as different as she is living in the wrong setting? Surely everyone is not made for the hustle and bustle of the life of the suburbs. With the constant over-scheduling of activities, maybe our kids with autism are made for a more simple life. A simple life that is probably more "appropriate" than the crazy lives of constant motion that most of us are living.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Video - 6 years old: What animal do I have?

Lizzie struggles with coming up with her own original thoughts. In an effort for her to at some point initiate and have a meaningful conversations with others, we work on this in a way that gently prompts her to come up with her own ideas instead of telling her to , "say _____". Not only had Lizzie become adverse to being told what to say, but she also wasn't learning to think for herself. I had to learn to wait a little longer for Lizzie's response. You'll see that it takes Lizzie much longer than the normal response time to process what is being asked of her and come up with something to say. It does feel awkward to wait so long, but it is always worth it when she gives a response that is all her own.

Video - 6 years old: Ladybug

Our therapist, Cristina, is working on turn-taking in conversation and maintaining a topic of conversation. You can tell by looking at Lizzie that she is not all that interested in talking about ladybugs, especially towards the end. Cristina does a good job of continuing to ask questions and softly prompting Lizzie to answer by taping her foot, saying her name or giving her an expectant look with her eyes and expectant sound with her voice. Since Lizzie is such a visual child, it really helps her to discuss topics if she is able look at the pictures in a book.