Friday, May 04, 2007

An Anatomy of Experience Sharing

Analytical to the core, I like to analyze things to go well so that I can replicate success. Last Wednesday's brownie baking session was so chock full of warm emotions that I think a post-mortem is in order. I reviewed the video clips and realized how Pamela needs a "warm-up" to help her share emotions. One thing I did was an unexpected action; too much of this annoys Pamela, but, if done at the right time, catches her interest. In this case, after she handed me the can of baking powder to remove the lid for her, I put it on my head. While I did not make her laugh or smile, I did catch her attention!

Recently, Pamela has learned to enjoy referencing me for information. In this case, I turn my gaze to a tool or ingredient and, because the recipe is in my head, she has to point and check my face to see if she is correct. She finds this process amusing. She enjoys being right like any person, but she does not mind being wrong either because she thinks my "wrong" expressions are funny. Some autistic children do not enjoy referencing, but fortunately it strikes Pamela's funny bone.

Spotlighting a moment in time by referring to the past is part of emotion sharing. In this case, I said, "Open, open, open . . . like opening . . . the door," while she tried to crack the egg. She picked off a piece of shell, so I added, "Sometimes, it helps if you give it a good crack" and I cracked it and gasped when it worked. Then I added, "And, now, open . . . open," modulating my voice, while I handed her the egg to open. She smiled with anticipation. For the first time, she opened an egg without pieces of the shell falling into the bowl. So, I spotlighted this by saying, "Alright! You're getting much better." When she looked at me, I said, "Do you remember the last time when you smashed it? And, this time you opened it" and her face opened into a pretty smile at that memory.

When I was pouring the vanilla into the teaspoon held by Pamela, I built up anticipation by pretending to pour, abruptly pulling up the bottle, and making the sound, "Woop!" She smiled and, when I finally poured the vanilla, her expression brightened even more. Notice how Pamela is glancing at me as she smiles.

Sometimes, my reaction can heighten shared enjoyment. In this case, Pamela was trying to pour the coconut milk into the bowl. Unfortunately, the thick layer of fat on top held up the process until Pamela tipped the can far enough that the milk suddenly whooshed into the bowl with a loud plop! She smiled and looked up at me. I was laughing and covered my mouth with my hands in an exaggerated expression of surprise. She confirmed her desire to laugh by seeing my reaction. The next time we bake with coconut milk, I plan to remind her of what happened the last time to work on episodic memory.

Because Pamela was enjoying this experience so much, she did not get too flustered by an unexpected guest. Steve walked into the room, grabbed a spoon, and tasted the batter. In this picture, Pamela is voicing her opinion (it was not positive). But, she does not show any hints of melting down. She continues spooning batter into the pan.

Steve grew up in a Latin culture in which a kiss on the cheek is part of ordinary greetings with family. He gave her a customary peck and Pamela pauses to turn her cheek, but manages to hang onto the spoon.

Pamela continues spooning and is determined to finish her task. She tells her dad, "That's it! That's it!" stating her desire to get back to work.

1 comment:

Christine said...

Hi, I just found your blog from a link off of ThisMom's site. I have a 4 year old and we have been doing RDI with him since January and LOVE it! It is so nice to read about the experiences of other families. But it looks like your site is a great resource on a number of topics so I will be back frequently to read up on some other subjects that are new to me.