Monday, January 25, 2010

More PLAY tips

1.)    WAIT...ALWAYS WAIT (can't be said enough times)

2.)    Go for AFFECT. (Whatever will make child smile, light up, pay attention)

3.)    Make sure 'circles' are towards PEOPLE, not THINGS.

4.)    Ask yourself, "Is this fun for ____?"  If not, stop and join.

5.)    Label actions, words, and feelings.

6.)    Express your affect as SYMPATHY, not control, when they want to do something you don't want to do or is not allowed.  ("Oh--you REALLY wanted to go in there!  I'm sorry that we can't.  Not today.  Maybe another time.  I know it makes you sad and I'm sad too.  Let's try _______ [something to redirect])

7.)    Figure out 10 things that can be done with a comfort zone object and try doing them. (Think prepositions:  up, down, in, out, over, around etc.)

8.)    Don't be afraid of the "Dark Side" play--especially for higher level children.

9.)    Try to make sure CHILD is opening first circle...wait and make child take responsibility for the relationships.  Remember that a circle can start with just a look, gesture or word.

10.)   Share child's problem in play.  "It's hard to know what to do.  Hmmm...what could we do with the train?"  AND WAIT.  

Huge Successes in Small Moments

Recently, a 15 year old that I've been working with for about 3 years had an amazing breakthrough.  He is a highly anxious kid, non-verbal, and tended to resort to self-aggression or aggression towards others (pulling hair, clothing, pushing etc.) when in a situation that caused him anxiety.

An example:  Three years ago, he had to be pulled out of a restaurant by his dad, screaming, because a piece of his food fell on the floor and dad didn't want him to eat it.  Taking him out in public was very hard and usually had the parents on edge.

A few weeks ago, we were at a restaurant.  He ordered Lemonade on his communication device (CD).  (Even though I suspected he really didn't WANT lemonade and wanted coke, I wanted to respect his choice.)  After eating and barely drinking the lemonade he was clearly waiting for the waitress to bring him a coke.  I asked him what he wanted (via CD) and he pressed Coke.  I told him that he ordered Lemonade and that when he orders something, he has to  go with it--he didn't have money to get another drink.  I KNEW that this was risky, because he could've had a full meltdown and the place was packed.

He stood by our seat while I went to pay and I kept an eye on him, praying he would continue to be calm.  When I finished paying, I gave him his coat.  He hung it back up.  I gave it to him again.  He hung it back up.  I explained that it was time to go and that we could get Coke at home.  He put on his coat and took a few minutes to get out of the door.  All during this time he was quiet (normally there would've been SOME vocalizations.)  

Once we got out the door, I breathed in a HUGE sigh of relief and told him that I was SO proud of him and gave him a high five and a hug.  As we walked towards my car, he would stop and look back at the restaurant as if deciding whether he was going to go back in and get a coke.  I kept telling him how mature he was and how proud I was of him.  He got to the car and got strapped in and realized what he had done and he became proud of himself.  He was so excited and proud. It was a HUGE moment.  I got very teary-eyed when recounting it to his parents because very few other people would understand what a GREAT success that was.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Happy New Year!

Well, we are only 6 days into 2010, but it has been uplfiting, so far.
My newest client ( a 4 1/2 year old girl) is doing VERY well.  I've PLAYed with her for less than 10 hours and her mom reported that not only has SHE seen an improvement, but the extended family has even noticed a difference.

 Yesterday, I received a voice mail from the father of a former client (we worked together for a little over a year.  I haven't seen her in 6-7 months) to thank me for helping them apply for the Children's Waiver.  They qualified and are now getting many services that they couldn't have afforded (or even known about), beforehand.  It was such a pleasing surprise to get that acknowledgment.

My morning boy (just turned 2) is doing so well--he is imitating sounds now and just greets me with a big smile and a hug. I saw him later on, when I was taking another client (age 11) to PT at the same place his brother was getting speech. 

I had 4 clients yesterday, with a total of 7 hours PLAYing.  I thought I would be totatlly exhausted when I got home (especially since last client lives 45 minutes from me), but I was wide awake and ready to roll.  

Today I am subbing in a general ed high school classroom.  I forgot how boring it can be.  At least I have another kid after school for 4 hours.  That will bring my energy level up.

Happy New Year!

PLAYing with Passion

Autism, Floortime, PLAY Project