When I pulled off the cover of the bird cage on Friday, I noticed that Lily our sweet parakeet was dead. I knew Pamela would need scaffolding on handling the death of a beloved pet, so I left the towel on the cage all day to avoid attracting her attention. Steve left work early and picked up a new parakeet for us. Pamela decided to take a bath, so I quietly took care of Lily and cleaned out the cage (yes, we gave her a Christian burial and not a royal flush). Steve had just arrived when Pamela noticed that the cage was in pieces, and Lily was nowhere to be seen. I decided to film our conversation in case I needed to learn how to better handle the death of a pet.
Pamela began asking me, "Where's the bird?" I very calmly and quietly eased into the news by telling her about the new bird first. She was mildly upset, but we spared her the kind of uncertainty that drives her over the edge. Because we already had a new bird, I think it lessened her anxiety. She was very interested in assisting Steve in moving the new bird into the cage. Steve had no idea how to do it and did a great job of remaining calm and neutral. I scaffolded Pamela in finding little roles to help him out. We used lots of declaratives and nonverbals and limited our prompts and commands as much as we could as we moved the new bird. Pamela named him Pat. We have no idea why she picked that name!
And, here's Pat . . . (Patrick if you are being formal).