Monday, April 14, 2014

Update #5: Autobiographical (Episodic) Memory

I haven't posted about these success boards for almost four years, but I've been printing the pictures and sharing them with my kiddo in binder format all that time.  Recently, we added some new topics so I figured it was time to revisit :)

These are the past posts (most of them, after the first, are brief):
Starting Idea
Board 1
Board 2
Board 3
Board 4

So, I was getting to the point now, with a ten year old, that the overarching topics weren't as exciting to him to contemplate... things like "moving with control" are more taken for granted in fourth grade (although I was able to add pictures of his new interest in gymnastics).  So, I printed a bunch of the latest pictures and we sat down together.  We brainstormed what the pictures showed and came up with three new topics and what they said about him!


Thinking for myself
I’m a person who:
- makes his own choices
properly considers what other people think
- is confident in himself
Choosing his own hat (and other pictures, like how he did his own thing on a recent vacation)


Trying something new
I'm a person who:
- is OK with learning new things
- takes my time
- can handle a challenge


Going in a submarine in Hawaii

Learning programming from his dad (and other pictures like learning how to interact with a friend's infant twins and our new guide dog puppy)


Planning ahead
I'm a person who:
- can think about the future
- can wait and plan for something I want 
- can make choices that keep my big picture in mind


Just unwrapping his computer that he saved for years to purchase with his own money (and other pictures like playing chess and creating his new planner.)
So, I'm as in love with this tool as ever.  By just printing the pictures and providing the documentation, my kiddo can see his own growth and come to powerful self evaluations.  I do a little guiding, but not much, the visual facts presented are powerful.  Kids are often so good at seeing their errors and challenges, but this is a tool that lets them visually see progress and celebrate success and internalize positive self-evaluations!  Win! Win! Win!

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

GTD for Kids: Part II

I first wrote about GTD for Kids about three and half years ago and we've done lots of tinkering in that time!  We've had picture schedules / calendars, simple lists, and lots of little tweaks.  The file box is forgotten, for now, but we've gradually honed a weekly list that includes all my son's various actions and... it's now his to manage!  That's the biggest advance now, he manages his own todo list and tweaks it as he finds necessary.  At ten, he's also quite willing to use computer tools to change it into a format that appeals to him.  I was impressed when he used a mind map tool to change his print list into this:



It's got everything from cleaning his room and showering to school work and various activities with Mom and Dad.  He's been using this for about a month successfully.  He loves that he prints it himself each week and makes his choices each night with the time frame of the full week in mind.

We've got two things that we want to implement soon to give him a more complete, effective system- an inbox and a calendar.  My husband is going to set up a calendar for my son so that I can still keep it on my computer, but it will sync to his computer and he can look at that each week when deciding how to budget time.  It's also something he could print independently if he wanted.  While this has been awesome for organizing time, he's pretty messy when it comes to paper.  So... secondly, we're figuring an inbox is a good first step for paper management (and he could add "empty inbox" to his mind map).  He doesn't like missing pieces of paper, but he's not buying into any kind of file system... yet!

So... this process is intriguing!  We're just gradually helping him develop good habits and tools as he finds a need to get things done :)  Cool!


Sunday, March 2, 2014

Dog For Us?

It's been awhile since I blogged and I've decided to not even try to keep up with posting all the cute antics... they're still coming strong* :)  So, to get back into the swing of things, I figured I'd update with the latest big news here that's all about a six to eight month trial with a particular yellow lab named Tracker.

I'm a dog person.  My husband is not.  I don't know about our son.  For a long time, I've wondered if the simpler social rules of interacting with a dog would be a value for him.  I loved having a dog that I could cry on when I was being a goofy teenager.  Dogs will always love you and lick your tears and they love to be petted.  My son is also very sensory seeking so I thought that a dog could be something that would really help him as he matures and deals with the challenges of Autism.  

Throughout high school, I raised guide dog puppies using this program.  So, that's what we're doing now to test if having a dog is a good idea for our family.  We got Tracker when he was seven months old and he's now nine months old.  So far, it's been a bumpy road.  My son tends to get a higher voice when he doesn't like something and that makes Tracker think that it's play time (and then my son will get angry as rough housing increases instead of stopping).  My son also tends to do more prodding and not really petting; he's learning.  Tracker is also learning that licking will not get him a play buddy because my son hates it.  But, they're figuring out how to interact with each other and... we'll see how it works out.  Tracker will return to the guide dog school for formal training when he's 13-15 months old.  For now, I'll keep trying to help my son enjoy him and help Tracker learn all the skills he'll need as a guide dog.  The verdict is still out, but I do get some cute pictures when they click and enjoy each other! 




* I send out weekly email updates, so if you do want to get the antics, just let me know.

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Positive Discipline Tool Cards

I participate in an online parenting group and I've particularly enjoyed a recent development there.  Each week, one of the members picks and writes about a Positive Discipline Tool Card.  The tools that are covered are all focused on positive ways to help a child develop independence.  Discipline is all about enforcing natural consequences, not punishments; the focus is on guidance over forced compliance.  Anyway, I'm loving this process and looking forward to each week.  I hosted a couple weeks ago and wanted to share what I wrote.  I'm going to start sharing these tool cards with my kiddo too so he can practice these respectful ways of interacting right back :)

Tool Card Monday:
Validate Feelings and Winning Cooperation
I picked these two because I think they're such a game changing skill in parenting. It makes parenting so much more fun for both kid and parent when you use them (and they're great outside of parenting too, of course). As you can see, "Winning Cooperation" starts with "Validating Feelings" so they're nested skills. I think responding to kids' big emotions can be one of the hardest things to cope with as a new parent. Toddlers and early preschoolers especially can be so exasperating when you just want them to see the big picture they're missing, but they're too upset to understand… you're out of bananas, the park is closed, a particular dog hates kids, a tool works a particular way, rat poison isn't for eating… they're just screaming mad and can't hear you and you can feel so stuck as a parent with this distraught, pre-rational creature. Validating Feelings is a life saver skill to foster as one's default, first thing, immediate response when in this situation. It's an awesome basis for getting cooperation and in a much more pleasant manner for all. (I do think step 4 requires some modifying for age since younger kids are going to need help in that working out process, but giving them some time is still helpful.) Moving on to "Winning Cooperation" then from a place where a kid feels heard and you aren't super aggravated is so much easier. You haven't agreed that they get to sample the rat poison or nuzzle noses with the fear-biting dog, but you've given them the chance to be heard and to calm down and, potentially, understand aspects of the situation that they didn't before. Of course they may not the first or tenth time, but that's the growing process. Kids can be so creative once they can hear you and solutions are often much more innovative and pleasant for all. I find using these skills not only fosters that growing independence in kids, it also makes my day to day parenting life so much more rich and happy.



(The whole deck is available on Amazon.)
(The whole deck is available on Amazon.)

Saturday, September 28, 2013

Chocolate Bliss!


I met my chocolate maker guru (http://www.claudiocorallo.com/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=7&Itemid=)!  IT WAS SO COOL!  A lady translated for him and I was just riveted as he answered questions for almost two hours! Glorious!!! Thrilling!!!  Exciting!!!  Hip, hip, hooray!!! 


With his translator teaching us about the life of the chocolate bean in the germ and how other chocolates are dead, "Chocolates like Valharona are like Egyptian mummies: fancy on the outside, inside... a cadaver!"


Me in seventh heaven!!!




And... on to Cameron's cute antics:

• correcting me,  "I'm not cute! I'm sweet and lovely!" (I should stick around after waking him up more often :) )

• informing me "You need a hug." Hugging me.  Then nuzzling my arm with a crooning, "My lovely motherly sweety poo." (No repression of affection in this kiddo!)

• We were discussing the take away points from dealing with a friend's younger sibling who has a really quick temper.  My kiddo waxed eloquent on what to do when someone has a short fuse and then informed me, "Mom, it's practically impossible to blow your fuse!" (Ah, a compliment!  But, oh how I've been tried! :) )

• "My feet are as clean as iron!" (I naturally asked what that meant and I got the isn't-that-obvious look.  He told me it means they're very clean.)

• after requesting some rough housing where he really loves to be squashed, he got all serious and dignified, "Please don't smother me; it's very unpleasant."

• writing himself a note to help with procrastination, "Past Cameron: No matter what you think it's best to edit your writing right after water and bathroom."


• choosing to color a geography map while naked, hiding in front of Andrew's car in the garage, in a dirty corner, near where we'd seen a scorpion.  (?!?!?!?  I brought him pajamas so he could do the map inside, but he didn't have an explanation for why he chose to hide in the garage instead of clothing himself… he had his room and pajamas available.)

• after one of his exuberant hugs and energetic nuzzles that was lasting awhile, I mentioned that we really should get a dog and he informed me, "You're better than any dog would be."

• trying to print 135 copies of his latest story so he'd have back up  

• randomly commenting at 9:15pm as he looked down,"Hooray, I'm wearing my pants correctly. [Pause]  Hooray, I'm wearing my shirt correctly too."

• mishearing my "wait a second" when he wanted my attention and forlornly repeating, "On August second?"

• sending his grandma "hugs as big as rockets" when she was sad about losing an old tree to lightening

• Cameron's flow of  who's next in history… he paused in listening to the ancient history class to make it clear how world history works.  He rattled off:

"So, what happened is, Egypt starts and then Mesopotamia conquers and becomes next and then Persia conquers Mesopotamia and becomes next and then Greece conquers Persia and becomes next and then the Romans conquer the Greeks and they become next and then the European barbarians conquer the Romans and they're next and then the European barbarians become Renaissance-men, civilized Europeans, and then they're next, and then the Europeans discovered America and then Americans rebelled and then America became the world's super power and that's where we're at now."


• convincing me to do our walk along the road barefoot

• making himself scrambled eggs and then declaring, "The next step in the process is enjoy."

• when I'd mentioned something about a grown up loosing their temper, "Losing their temper? That's very unadult. [I mentioned some do.] Not yoooooou! Not, Dad.  I'm not used to adults who do that. When you become a teacher your fuse gets extended by a meter! On second though, you really need to train more than anything else to be that, but you're not automatically that.  If you lose your temper in front of a kid because the kid did something bad, the kids wont be able to learn.



• "I first knew you five years ago!" (Since he's nine, I asked what happened then. "When I was four I got the memorization effect." He explained that meant he started remembering.)

• When asked who he'd rather have as an evening play buddy, "I always get you as a play buddy, so of coooooourse I want Grandma!"

• getting the words "forgery" and "foundry" mixed up

• responding to me pointing out all the windmills on a hill with, "Oh. They're very numerous."

• fighting a volume war with his dad in the car… Dad wanted to listen to music and Cameron wanted to read to us about tanks.  (It got pretty loud before Cameron noticed the gradual challenge and the giggles took over.)

 • "I just learned that ice cream with ketchup tastes good to me… better than alone!  It's aftertaste is like a burning fire. I like that!!!  No, not a burning fire, a blazing fire!"

• deciding that hefting sticks was what he wanted to do during our stroll… and discarding each one for a more appealing one after a minute or two.


• during syllable work, breaking words up the way he does for spelling; "nation" turned into "nat, ion"… he thus missed the syllable break for the "shun" sound :)

• responding to me helping him with his kitchen chores, "Wow, you must really love me!  Just pooping out somebody makes you automatically love them."

• stating, "I made a new sport with myself.  It's called grind your teeth down.  I click my teeth together, clench so hard, that they chip, making stronger fronts of the teeth and sides." (It sounded like scratching silverware along a plate.  Shudder.  I showed him a little chip in one of my teeth and he decided to never do it again.)

• "sold" his socks to his friends for pretend Minecraft emeralds (This is how boys play cashier.  No pretend cash register to ring up your groceries, a pretend blacksmith forge instead where sweaty socks count as currency and pounding out pretend goods on the cement with an inflated SpiderMan mallet produces wonders.  Cameron has been talking about it all week!)

• after some banter where it was clear that he was not interested in his dad's reminder, his dad asked "Do I need to pop your toes?" and Cameron responded with with a pondered series, "No. Maybe. Probably. Yes."


• It turns out feeding the birds isn't the only thing worthy of doing with one shoe… he hopped around to water the plants too.

• when getting ready to go and looking for socks he yelled, "Let me check my classic hiding place!" (and proceeded to search under all the furniture).

• not wanting to sing the yo ho song because, "It's illegal to be a pirate."

• confusing the words "testicle" and "trachea"

• Pediatrician: The bathroom is on the other side of this wall.
  Cameron: OK, give me a battering ram so that I can get to it.

• making an exception to his snuggling love, "Please don't kiss my eye because it really grosses me out and I think your saliva goes back and gets stuck in my brain."

• coming to the door with hands stuck behind his back in the handle of the watering can, "Great, now I found that you can use watering cans as hand cuffs!"

• after turning off his thinking again during a short melt down, he noticed his own introspective progress and informed me gleefully, "I was noticing I'm angry and I'm stewing."

• spelling usual, "useawool"

• explaining that one of his nicknames for me, "moomykins", was a snuggly version for a cuddly mom :)


• informing me, "I have too many minds for some things."

• counting 85 pixels on his new Minecraft, foam sword

• "Dad, I made your writing legible to me… just letting you know."

• reading along the car dealership signs and coming to "bluck".  (As a family, we were laughing about buying a bluck car and congratulations on your new bluck for at least five minutes. It was an attempt to pronounce "Buick".)

• fixing his OT with one of those looks and saying, "If I didn't know you were a specialist at this, I probably wouldn't believe you."


• naming his new, foam Minecraft sword "La Joyeuse the second" and posing as a serious warrior… I imagine Charlemagne would be a wee bit surprised at the turn of events :)

• "Why would I be in the army?  I'd get driven crazy by people giving me orders."

• going out in the dark, "I see fake wolves!  My mind supplies coyotes in front of me!"

• responding the to the reminder "bed" with, "Bed Bath and Beyond"

• when he found out his favorite summer chess teacher was joining the team of coaches for his regular club, I asked if he was so excited that he was jumping up and down and he answered, "No! I forgot to!"

• saying "It's like hitting stones.  What? You don't understand metaphors?" (Classic autism moment of not understanding that everything in his head isn't understood by others. We explained that if you make up a metaphor you could mean any aspect of that action like futile, painful, difficult…  It turned out he was going for inflexible.)

• over the breakfast table, "I am being your oracle.  You need a million hugs."

• after he turned his head so that we accidentally had a lip kiss, he declared, "I accept.  I'll marry you!" (He said I could have two husbands and continued to describe how it would work. He'd be my little husband and then, when a teenager, my medium husband, and when he grows up my second big husband.)

• Story:
I've heard that the near ten age frame is when the adolescent behaviors start and I really, really hope my kid keeps talking through this process so that I can follow his peaks and valleys!  Today, after having a meltdown in the car with tears and trying to blame me for his mistakes and refusing all responsibility of learning from mistakes… I kept my cool and (within twenty minutes) he recognized the issue and moved into another space of how to learn. Then he had an awesome swimming lesson and on the way back to the car he asked...

"Doesn't this look like a renaissance for me? 
Doing really well at Minecraft 
Getting my problem solving better
Writing conversations are more productive and I'm writing better
Listening-turned-off conversations that annoy us are getting quicker faster and faster
Being promoted in my swimming...
Doesn't all that look like a renaissance for me?"

(Holy cats!  He'll turn off his hearing and be like a toddler and then he's like super-introspective, kid genius! I'm buckling up, because boy oh boy does this look like even more intense roller coaster time!)

• Choosing to feed the birds wearing only one shoe.  He was adamant about this and it's is not a gentle spot among the pine needles!

• answering his music teacher's written question with a cheery and contemplative paragraph (not at all a combative tone):
Why is the sound of a language a good place to start for understanding culture more broadly?
I don't think it is a good start because who cares about the language if we can just get along with the songs.  Aren't the tones of the music and the beauty, not the language, important?  Why would the language ever matter?  I think you might think the language is important because the character of the language might reflect the character of the country.  But, take the French for example, their language is nice and sweet, but: they had big time wars with England, had a big French Revolution, and after that Napoleon went around and made mince meat of most of Europe.  So, the French weren't particularly a smoothing, nice people even though their language says so.  

Saturday, July 27, 2013

Cousin Love!

We had a great visit with Cameron's grandparents and cousin.  It was really sweet to see how Cameron treated his cousin differently from other five-year-old girls.  They snuggled and bickered like siblings :)



Cute antics:

• when the chess master noticed Cameron standing up on the monkey bars and got him back down, Cameron wanted to know why.  The master said that bars weren't designed for that and my child pondered that a moment and answered, "Monkey bars weren't not designed for that." (We're working on that line of thinking for himself and understanding reasons while being respectful of authority and generally pleasant company!)

• inviting "Lets go to the stairs so we can have our battle!" 

• his statement of our jobs:
Mom
To make him happy and teach
Dad
To make him happy when he can and work and make us a successful family 
(Hmmm, interesting what was the top for both parents in his view!)

• after patting my head he told me that that means comfort 
( We had a fun chat about that being more for animals, not people, and I talked about patting shoulders.)

• getting into the car with his me, his grandma and his cousin and inviting, "How about listening to Hobbit, gals?"

• deciding to retrieve his draft from the printer as if he were blind (he groped his way up/down stairs and around the house)

• deciding the garage was the best place for privacy when changing with a houseful of people

• He kept saying, "Rats! Another period!" while editing his story.  I caught this video.
I love the explanation which is classic Cameron.
"I'm trying to find mistakes and I want it to be exciting!"

• choosing to color a geography map while naked, hiding in front of Andrew's car in the garage, in a dirty corner, near where we'd seen a scorpion.  (?!?!?!?  I brought him pajamas so he could do the map inside, but he didn't have an explanation for why he chose to hide in the garage instead of clothing himself… he had his room and pajamas available.)

• after one of his exuberant hugs and energetic nuzzles that was lasting awhile, I mentioned that we really should get a dog and he informed me, "You're better than any dog would be."

• trying to print 135 copies of his latest story so he'd have back up  

• randomly commenting at 9:15pm as he looked down,"Hooray, I'm wearing my pants correctly. [Pause]  Hooray, I'm wearing my shirt correctly too."

• mishearing my "wait a second" when he wanted my attention and forlornly repeating, "On August second?"

• sending his grandma "hugs as big as rockets" when she was sad about losing an old tree to lightening

• Cameron's flow of  who's next in history… he paused in listening to the ancient history class to make it clear how world history works.  He rattled off:

"So, what happened is, Egypt starts and then Mesopotamia conquers and becomes next and then Persia conquers Mesopotamia and becomes next and then Greece conquers Persia and becomes next and then the Romans conquer the Greeks and they become next and then the European barbarians conquer the Romans and they're next and then the European barbarians become Renaissance-men, civilized Europeans, and then they're next, and then the Europeans discovered America and then Americans rebelled and then America became the world's super power and that's where we're at now."

Sunday, June 30, 2013

Scuba Diving!


I think the most exciting hoopla recently has been Cameron participating in this program at The Monterey Bay Aquarium: http://specialkidsscuba.org/faq.html.  He had his first scuba diving experience, used up a full tank of air and let me know first thing upon coming out that he was awesome :)



And doesn't his expression say it!
I think someone was feeling proud of overcoming sensory challenges… like breathing through a regulator that nearly stopped him at the start.  I love the look! The sensory issues can be so heartbreaking to see and so limiting; breakthroughs mean so much. That look, that self-evaluation is real fuel for future effort and it made me just teary happy!



Cute antics:


• after I'd made some comment about his dad mis-planning sometimes too, "Even Dad?  Dad is one of the most prestigious people I know! (It turned out he defined prestigious as someone who does things well and doesn't procrastinate :) )

• "Mom sure does know how to insult.  My that's sure not true!" (I commented that Andrew was frustrating during some playful teasing and this was Cameron's attempt at joining the banter.)

• pausing his playing of the musical "Jekyll and Hyde" to comment, "There's nothing good about being a prostitute." I asked why and he replied, "You don't get an iPad."  Not wishing to insult, I didn't laugh, but when I mentioned that they might actually have an iPad now a days, he said, "Well, you don't have a house."  When I mentioned that they might have that too, he put on the full melodramatic voice and told me "Well, they might get sick and… die!"
(Okee dokee, he's got me there!  I'm always in for surprises.  Never did I expect that line of reasoning?!?!?)



• commenting, "Dad is more of a king than I am and I am more of an intrepid explorer."

• "I can't believe that I forgot!"
(Me: Forgot what?)
"That I am magnificent!"
(Once he noticed I was making a note for a cute antic he added, "Be sure to add an exclamation point.)

• after I noticed the finger eating and gave a friendly point at his fork he informed me, "I don't mind eating like a brute." 

• describing what his occupational therapist's exercises were doing, "You were waking my pieces up, my lovely Ms. Mary!"

• Conversation:
Cameron: You're young for an adult.
Me: Oh? What's old?
Cameron: 50
(Very matter of fact, as if I should know these things.)


• "Don't just yank off my pants!" (Ah the days when I could notice a pair of pants needed to go to Goodwill and just give a playful tug seem to be gone.  Apparently, he's opposed to exposing legs to Mom anymore.)

• informing me, "I have enough money to buy a ring for my fiancĂ© in a few years." (Oh?  It was a hypothetical fiancĂ© and the focus was on the ability!)

• describing how he conquered a challenge in an iPhone game… he really really wanted to tell me every detail and when he paused for breath he added with flare, "So I simply used my brilliant mind and…" (I'm afraid my Mommy brain didn't follow the details of his conquest, but he sounds a bit like The Great Brain in his confidence!")

• Cute antic when my child wants the computer:
Cameron: Lovely mommy of sweetness, will you have mercy on your poor son?
Me: Poor son?
Cameron: "I'm trying to make you laugh so that you'll let me use the computer and have fun."
Well… it worked, but he had to wait for me to type up this cute antic.

• describing a story, "One time he managed to escape and one time he managed to die."

• getting well trained by the neighborhood dog who came to visit while he was doing his chores, "Well, I had to do something. So, I went over and got my frisbee."


• Story:
Last weekend, he had decided to make a cursive p in a way that added a second loop and was refusing to acknowledge a reminder.  He looked at the youtube video I pulled up and insisted that that was just one way to make a cursive p and he could do it differently. He got very upset, but I chose not to fight the battle at that time.
This weekend, at breakfast, he was just quietly contemplating and said:
"I should have just listened to you and I would have been done much better."
"I spent a lot of time arguing with you about things that you turned out to be right."
"Why didn't I just agree with you? I know that you're much smarter than I am and you're usually right."

There are times when staying quiet for a bit can be quite shocking!  We had a nice, meaty family chat after he came out with that triple punch of musings!


• My Facebook post:
One of his speech therapists told me years ago that I should write a book entitled "My quotable son." Here is the latest of his wisdom, now that he's reached the ripe old age of nine, "I'm very fastidious about my dirty feet."
Note: I think the idea was that he should be allowed to keep the layer of dirt atop his feet as an expression of his explorer spirit.  Well, I pick my battles. I don't fight over backwards clothing, but inside out is too much. General dustiness is expected, but a dark layer means  Mom will point him to the tub before sharing close proximity... or proximity to her things like the ever tempting computer!  Only having a sister, perhaps I suffer from inexperience with little boys who sometimes seem like a slightly different species :)


• And a cute antic for the parents of this child… My Facebook status:
Mommy win.
I didn't lose it when my kiddo scraped the coffee table across the floor for the third time in a row!
After taking a deep breath...
I could see it was clear he was upset with himself and really just forgetting as he listened to music class.
I flipped over the table.


Andrew Miner You can readily imagine a wrathful Rachel overturning furniture in a hulk-like rage, can't you?

Rachel Miner Hey, hey, hey! You know I was calm when I flipped the table... the losing it after the third repetition though was a near miss!