Programming the Kid.

Tootles is always working several programs with his ABA tutors.  I thought I’d describe some of them.  Are they programming my kid or is he “working” the programs?  I think it’s both and it’s all good.

Reading ComprehensionThe tutors have written stories involving people Tootles knows in real life and then combined them with multiple choice questions that he must answer.  He has done well enough to start unfamiliar names and stories out of a book, responding to the corresponding questions.

New School Social Story – This was a story complete with photos from the school we just pulled him out of!  Now, his story has been replaced and a new story will be read regularly to get him used to his new school and routine.

What Happened In-Between –  Tootles has never asked me a why question.  Before he was born, right up to the diagnosis, I was still anticipating the “why” question.  We’re not there yet.  The program goes a bit like this:

The iPad battery died.  Later, the iPad was working fine.  What happened in between?  There was a plate full of cookies.  Then a boy with cookie crumbs on his face and an empty plate.  What happened in between?

He’s “mastered” a number of these and correctly guessed new ones tried out by the tutors.  He still has asked no “why” questions in real life.

Friend Files –  Tootles is given a list of questions.  He asks his friends these questions and writes down the answers.  (“What is your favorite sport?”  “What do you like to do after school?”)  The file is supposed to contain pictures and drawings to help him remember facts about his friends, spark conversations and keep the faces in Toots’ memory.

The “interviewing” was easy. Toots is having trouble understanding how to use the information.  At this point, he is learning to sort “silly” from “good” questions.  A “silly” question is one that he has already asked.  The intent is to teach him how to use and access the information to enhance his social interactions.

Brushing TeethAm I the only one with a kid who hates to get his teeth brushed?  I swear this kid is going to end up with dentures before he is 10.  He hates opening his mouth to have his teeth brushed and will “fake” brush if left on his own.  The tutors have taken pictures of him brushing the different areas of his teeth.  Then, they required him to put the pictures in the correct sequence.  Now, he is following the visual to brush his own teeth.

As this program is not generalized (meaning, given over to me to use) I still struggle with him every day.  He will choke, gag, lock his lips around his teeth to prevent me from getting in there, hide his teeth with his mouth, refuse to hold the “E” position so I can get in there and brush and he grabs my arm to control where the brush touches his teeth.  We’ve worked on the sensory issues surrounding his mouth but this remains a hard issue for us at home.  Once the power struggle is over, he rinses with a dixie cup and half the time, forgets to spit in the sink, spitting on the mirror as he looks at himself.  Yay.

Gross Motor Games –  In connection with PE, recess and general socialization tools, Toots is being taught several “recess” games like hopscotch, catch, hide and seek (something he has never played until this summer!) and kicking a ball.  He has mastered most of these.  It’s not so much that he isn’t capable, as it is the “dyspraxia”, where he must be taught each and every step in a sequenced manner to understand how to do it.  He will still wander off in the middle of Hide and Seek when he distracted.

Checking the competition!

Competition – Tootles does not get hurrying up to win or that getting distracted will cause him to “lose”.  The tutors have set up games like, doing the most math problems on a sheet, or sorting marbles by color and telling him that whoever gets the most wins the m&m.

He hates when the tutor eats the m&m and has been motivated to try harder.  It appears that he is starting to “get it” and is actively checking his competition’s progress as they “race”.  He still cannot really grasp the concept in its entirety, or gets distracted.

Requesting “How”  – Tootles doesn’t ask for help.  If he does not know how to do something, he remains silent until he gets mad and starts cussing “fire truck!”  “2+1=3!”.  Thus, this program.  Tutor:  “Tootles, do a push-up.”  Tootles:  “How do I do a push-up?”  So far, I haven’t been asked these questions except for now, as I prepare him for his first spelling test… “Spell thick”  “How do I spell thick?”  Pretty clever, eh?

Potty Social Story – Yes.  He holds.  He screams “toilet” just before an explosion.  These don’t seem like good ideas for first grade class.  Thus, we’re reading a social story.  Just the other day, right after one of the tutors read it, and he had a mini-accident (slight pee) rather than asking or simply just getting up to go to the bathroom.  Success rate – nil so far…

Car desensitizationDaddy has a new sports car.  Tootles has a fascination and meltdown proportion fear of that car.  The tutors are trying to desensitize him.  As a result of that program, he now scripts, “Do you want to open one door or two doors?  You only want to open two doors,” and “Let’s touch the parts of the car.  This is the door handle, headlight, hood …”  I heard these scripts the other day for a half hour straight while shopping at WalMart.

Scripting at WalMart…

That’s what we are currently working on at our house.  So, ABA or not, what are you working on at yours?


About solodialogue

I'm a lawyer and the mom of a 6 year old boy with autism. I work part time and spend the rest driving here and there and everywhere for my son's various therapies. Instead of trying cases, I now play Pac-man and watch SpongeBob. I wear old sweaters and jeans and always, always flat shoes to run after my son. Yeah, it's different but I wouldn't change it for anything. The love of my child is the most powerful, beautiful and rewarding aspect of my life.
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12 Responses to Programming the Kid.

  1. Lisa says:

    Thank you for sharing!! I love seeing what other children are trying to learn. Tate is working in “why” as well. It seems so weird to some, but Tate has also never asked this type of question. Tate is also working on greetings. He struggles greatly with this, so we practice a lot. He is doing some Social Thinking program which addresses how to listen and sit at school. We have more…but then my comment would be as long as your post.

    We have some busy kiddoes, don’t we!?!

    • solodialogue says:

      Why seems like it would be coming but we’re still trying to get there! Toots did work on greetings like Tate but when it comes to real life greetings? No.way. It was totally obvious today when multiple new people – principal, teachers, etc.. at the new school said hello and he had to be prompted to respond to everyone – and eye contact with them? Forget about it!

      Social Thinking program sounds interesting… maybe you will post about it? I’d love to hear more! 🙂

  2. Kelly Hafer says:

    Sheesh! What a list! We’re doing some of those same programs here, too. The potty training thing, yeah. Beginning to think THAT will never happen. Now I am trying to “program” myself to separate the behavior from the child – wise advice from an online buddy. Now, if only I could implement it.

  3. We’ve got the opposite of your “why” program here — “why?whynot?” have actually become SCRIPTS at our house! If I tell Little Miss something that she does not like, I am immediately confronted by a string of scripted questions for which she has no desire to hear the answer… if she’s only a little upset by what I told her, I get the typical “why?whynot?” The more agitated she is, the more questions I get — sometimes even up to “why?whynot?whatkind?how?” LOL.

    Let’s see… what are we working on? We’re taking a break from potty training after working all summer long to achieve a 30% success rate. At school, she just mastered taking off her shoes and is working hard at task completion and answering questions with more than one word. We’re also constantly working of feeding and oh yeah… tooth brushing is a big point of contention here too.

    Like Lisa, I could go on, but that would be a whole post…. hmmm… maybe it’s time for another Karen-sponsored meme? 😉

    • solodialogue says:

      Oh no! I guess we have equal issues on either side of that fence, right? And, of course, be careful what you wish for…

      Everyone needs a potty training break – I think this is our 53rd attempt after a break – perhaps I exaggerate, just a bit. Yay for LM mastering the shoes. Task completion is something we’ve done but funny how it never seemed to take “hold” in real life situations. Toots will answer questions, with the tutors or if forced by me to say a complete sentence but then he will revert right back to minimum volume one word answer (sigh). Good to know that we’re not the only ones struggling with the tooth brushing! Somehow that is reassuring – although it shouldn’t be! And I do believe I’m out of the meme business. Although, I’d love to read what others are doing… (hint-hint)… 😉

  4. Mary says:

    Well, let’s see…With why questions, Freckles has the same problem I do: she sees all the possible reasons why something happened. For How, she still won’t ask for help, gets frustrated and throws whatever it is across the room. Not as much as she used to, but often enough.

    We did friend files in social skills group, but I’m not sure how much good it did. I do ask her daily who she sat by or played with and did the girl who gets on her nerves bother her today. Art class is gone again this year so she joined Art Club which had 40 kids and 2 adults Friday so I volunteered to help out. Freckles is not happy about that so we’ll have to work on it. Any suggestions? Mom does not belong at school, I think is the problem.

    She still will not brush her teeth more than a couple times a week. I gave up and just let her do it on her own.

    You guys are really busy!

    • solodialogue says:

      Interesting, Mary how both you and Freckles see all the possible reasons why. I don’t have the ability to communicate well enough with Toots to find out what he understands. If I ask, I’m met with silence or discussion unrelated to the topic…

      I wonder what it is about asking how questions. Is it not wanting to look as though they don’t understand, forgetting to ask and getting frustrated or something else?

      Our friend files are meant to be used all year with facilitation by the tutors so hopefully we will see some kind of success with it by the end of the school year but I’m thinking this is a long term kind of program…something to help him build on for the future – more likely in an electronic format, like on the iPad or computer.

      40 kids in Art Club?! Wow. Glad you are volunteering – perhaps if you worked the class by bringing in some cheap sugary treats, the class will love you and then Freckles will be happy? Don’t come to me for nutritious advice! 😉 And (sigh) teeth brushing just is a tough one! Someday, I hope we post some successful ideas! He is the busy one! He has a 40 hour work week with school and therapy! Such a busy little boy.

      • Mary says:

        I don’t know why Freckles won’t ask for help. They did work on that in OT. It got a little better. We say, “What could you do next time/could you have done instead of getting angry/frustrated and throwing things?” Maybe I can make a big sign that says, “Ask for help.” She does pay attention to all the signs on the wall at school. She figured out a long time ago that the spelling words are always somewhere on the wall. 🙂

        The biggest problem with the OT not sticking for us at home I think was that the OTs didn’t always communicate with me the right words to use. I tried to get them to do that, but they would talk to me for 2 minutes at the end and not everything got repeated to me. “Whole body listening” is one of the few I managed to get out of them. They talked about “How is my motor running” but never really covered how to get the motor running correctly. I think it’s great the way you have the weekly meetings so you know what’s going on.

  5. wow! I am feeling like a slacker 😉 you guys have a lot going on, so fascinating for me to learn from what others are doing, thanks for sharing!

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