Monday, May 10, 2010

The Nine Year Old Way

Michael grew out of his roller skates.  Although his mother looked everywhere for new skates, all she could find in his shoe size were  roller blades. He would not even look at these and continued to pull out his roller skates for months, complaining to his mother about his skates not fitting over and over. His mother had almost given up on the roller blades but they were still tucked away in the closet.  Luckily, inspiration hit this week and she had an idea of how she might get Michael to accept the change.

His mother and I have been working our way through a great book of parent strategies called Parenting Your Asperger Child by Alan Sohn, Ed.D and Cathy Grayson, M.A.  Although the diagnostic label of "Asperger" does not fit Michael, some of the strategies in the book have been working. We sometimes need to modify the strategy slightly because Michael does not understand the abstract language that the authors suggest parents use in some of the strategies.   For example, one strategy is to use the phrase "Bite the bullet" to remind children to just do a thing even though you don't like to do it. Michael was horrified by the dangerous idea of putting a bullet in his mouth. Mom could not even discuss what it meant with him because he was disgusted with the literal meaning of the words and could not think past this first impression. Lately, though, one strategy straight out of the book has been working. Michael's mom has been helping Michael practice some new, more mature ways of interacting socially and using the rational that since Michael will soon be turning nine, he needs to get ready to do things the nine year old way.  When Michael pulled out his skates, yet again, and brought them to mom complaining that they did not fit, his mother said, "Michael, roller skates are the eight-year-old way of skating."  She pulled the new roller blades out of the closet and said, "Roller blades are the nine-year-old way of skating."

Michael pulled the new roller blades on with a smile and kept them on for the next four hours.


Ethan said...

I just found this blog not too long ago, and am extremely impressed by the creative insights you offer. I am both an instructor of children 3-12 with autism and a respite provider/mentor for the 10-20 age group. All of the children have different levels of comprehension, accessibility, functioning, etc., but it seems that many of your techniques can be adapted accordingly. Thanks for your blog!

TJ said...

I like that book, too. I find its strategies helpful for a variety of kiddos. Thanks for reminding me to take another look at it now and then.

Tahirih said...

Thank you Ethan. The blog gives me an excuse to write down some of the interesting things that happen in my work, that I learn, and that I wonder. Having others read and benefit is icing on the cake.

jessmumto3 said...

What a brilliant blog. Thank you! I especially love this post... It is a warm insight into the daily issues parents must face, autism or not! I am a Speech Pathologist working with children with special needs (Austim included) and I find much inpiration from your blog,

Thank you.