Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Good Feelings

Chapter 1
Pamela watches ETV (PBS) and stims verbally about Nancy who sews, Priscilla who does yoga, and Julia who cooks. Last night, Pamela took it a step further. After we finished reading our last book for the day, she turned to me and said, "Meatballs." The passage described five men sailing in a storm near the Hebrides in a leather boat; meatballs were not on the menu. So, I repeated with a surprised tone, "Meatballs?"

She explained, "Meatballs for dinner, just like Julia!"

I asked, "Did Julia make some meatballs?"


Mimicking the voice of Julia Child I told her that I would have to find a gluten-free/casein-free recipe on the Internet. Pamela thought I was quite silly and laughed.

Pamela's sensory issues with cooking have improved. Last week, she actually rolled balls out of cookie dough. She let me mix the meat with other ingredients by hand, but she rolled meatballs with her hands. She does make faces but tolerates it because Julia does it.

The meatballs were delicious. With face-to-face engagement, I told Pamela how much I enjoyed the yummy meatballs. No, Queen Mum, I did not take pictures nor keep track of the ingredients.

I wonder what is for dinner tomorrow night? Meatloaf? Stuffed peppers? More meatballs?

Chapter 2
Today, we baked bread from a mix in the bread machine and survived a culinary crisis. After an hour, Pamela and I checked on the bread, and the machine had not mixed the dough! DOH! The RDI techniques of face-to-face interactions and spotlighting flew out of my head, but I did redeem myself by thinking out loud. Pamela watched me frantically unplug the machine, push the pan into the machine securely, mix the wet and dry ingredients together, and restart the machine. We stood there and watched the machine in action to make sure it mixed.

The bread turned out delicious and, after I sliced off two pieces and put them on a plate, I spotlighted the moment by sniffing the bread and enjoying the scent. She imitated me and said, "Good!"

Then, Pamela smiled and looked at me, "Butter!" (Some butter-like spreads are casein-free.)

I smiled back and said warmly, "Butter? That sounds delicious! What a great idea!"

Then, she added, "Just like Laura!"

So, I spotlighted her recall of Little House in the Big Woods, "I remember when Laura and Ma made butter and baked bread! That is one of my favorite books!" Pamela adores all of the Little House books as do I.

Chapter 3
Pamela started a new book today: Miracles on Maple Hill. I try to ease her into books by spotlighting connections to her life. The heroine of the book is from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania (about an hour north of where we lived a few moves ago).

Pamela loves guessing games, so I smiled mysteriously and showed her the cover of the book, "Guess where the girl lives! I'll give you a clue: you lived in this state." Because of the snow on the cover illustration, she guessed it on the third try.

To her delight, the first page held another connection. Marly, the little girl, is basically asking her mother to repeat her favorite stim phrase. No, she's not autistic, but the girl's request sounded eerily familiar. Anyone living in autism land will find the author's explanation familiar: "She could tell that Mother was afraid Daddy would object to hearing the same thing over and over."

A few months ago, Pamela stimmed by asking, "What is nagging?" with the answer "saying the same thing over and over." So, after I reread the passage aloud, a big smile crept over her face. She smiled when the author talked about the Pittsburgh symphony, hills, snow, and farmhouses, which are all familiar to her. I love it when Pamela takes to a book in the first chapter.

Page four had a wonderful passage that I think describes how emotions play a role in how children encode memory.

The truth was that when Mother said those certain words all the good feelings came back. Grandma's whole house and yard and her whole Maple Hill were in those words, just the way Mother had described them ever since Marly could remember. Grandma was in them, too, with the way Mother said her voice was, like a bird's voice if it pretended to be cross but really wasn't. Mother was in them, too, but in a special way. Not the way she was now, but the way she had been when she was Marly's age. Every summer she had come to visit her Grandma at Maple Hill, right here in Pennsylvania's corner.

How so many things could be in a few words was something else Marly didn't know. But it was the same way the whole feel of school can be in the sound of a bill ringing. Or the way the whole feeling of spring can be in one robin on a fence post.


Anonymous said...

so exciting about rolling dough and meatballs! those are huge steps!

poohder said...

Is Pamela reading Miracles on Maple Hill to herself or is this a read aloud? I am still struggling with how much to read aloud and how much to require on her own. Second question, do you pre-read all of her books?

The Glasers said...

About three years ago, she had to read one book aloud to me, and I read aloud to her all of the other books. Last year, we started transitioning to reading all of her books by herself with many caveats! I do not pre-read any books, and you will see why!

1) Before we read the passage, we try to remember the basic story and link to prior knowledge.

2) We read two to four pages of each book a day to avoid rushing through the book and forgetting it all a month later.

3) We sit together. I mark about half a page of reading. I have her skim for what might be important words.

4) We silently read about half a page and then stop. She tells me at least three things she can remember with the book closed.

5) I reopen the book, letting her see the page. I ask questions to practice syntax. If she did not mention important points in the passage, I gear my questions to uncover those details.

6) We do this with lots of face-to-face interaction.

7) After we finish a couple of pages, we talk about of what the story reminds us. Connecting to our own lives or other books helps to solidify the book in her mind.

poohder said...

THANKS!!! for laying it all out for me I appreciate it.