Thursday, September 20, 2007

Puzzled No More

Examples of autistic wunderkinds who put together complicated jigsaw puzzles practically blindfolded without their backs turned abound. Pamela is not one of them. She still does not completely get standard notions about puzzlemaking like the edges lining up, spotting potential locations on the box, and studying the shapes. We have been working on simple 100-piece puzzles since March in an RDI-like way. One thing I do is to build joint attention and then tell her indirect comments like "This is an edge. All the edges line up." "I wonder where this might be on the box." "Oh, I think I see a match with this piece."

Today, we ran out of time puzzle-building. Pamela stayed behind to finish it while I cooked lunch. Not only did she finish the puzzle, she skipped into the kitchen and announced proudly, "I did it! I finished the puzzle." You can bet I spotlighted that moment with an enthusiastic response.

She had a similar moment yesterday when she was trying to break off the remnants of a branch. She found garden clippers useless, so I suggested we visit my Dad to borrow a saw after dinner. She had other ideas. Pamela grabbed a huge, heavy stone and dropped it on the branch repeatedly until it snapped. She ran it to the house, skipping and telling me, "I broke the branch!" And, of course, I celebrated--Steve did not know the backstory and could not fathom why we were Snoopy Dancing over a stick.

Pamela is becoming much more interested in SHARING exciting moments in her day with me! Before RDI, she only shared the tragedies, not the triumphs.


Anonymous said...

Tammy, that is a WONDERFUL example
of having enough memories of competence to be resilient and flexible and resourceful enough to
stick with it. WOW, lots of prefrontal stuff going on there!!
Way to go Pamela and Tammy You guys are doing great things!! poohder

Anonymous said...

wow! I'm sooo happy for you all. sincerely, diane G.

walking said...

It is funny, some RDI concepts are completely foreign to me. But, others are things Pamela and I have been doing for a long time. We developed our master-apprentice relationship, but it had some gaps such as relying upon nonverbal communication and keeping the pacing slow. The same is true for building resilience, flexibility, and resourcefulness, thanks to Charlotte Mason thinking I had learned to step back. But, I need to be less competent and allow Pamela the chance to work through a challenge and be the hero.

Bonnie said...

Wow, I've been hearing alot about RDI lately. Is it good to start with a child who is 12?

walking said...

Bonnie, My daughter was almost 18 when we started a lone-ranger RDI program (i.e., no consultant). I have blogged the journey so far. I did a "blind" experiment by not telling my husband Steve about the plan. Within four days of starting RDI activities, without any hints or prompting about any changes, Steve said out of the blue, "You know what Pamela has been doing lately. She's been looking at me alot!" WOW!!!

There are things I have been doing for years that dovetail nicely with RDI. There are some major gaps caused by my thinking that some developmental issues (eye contact, difficulty shifting attention, difficulty following eye gaze) were hard-wired. I found that Pamela can learn those skills, even if they do not come to her naturally.

At some point, I want to get a consultant, and I am starting to save up for it. I know there are things I could be doing better. It would help to have an experienced person point them out to me.

Mary said...

Sharing triumphs is huge! I'm so happy for you.