Sunday, February 08, 2009

Rest in Peace, Sweet Lily!

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).


Happy Elf Mom (Christine) said...

Poor darlin'. Does she always say she has a bad dream when she's upset?

I can't imagine things going more smoothly for you except for the trying to get the new bird into the cage. What an ordeal!

walking said...

With the help of our RDI consultant, we noticed that extreme anxiety causes Pamela to lose her ability to construct sentences. So, she falls back on stock phrases like "It's a bad dream" or "I don't think that's such a good idea." It's better than cussing! :-)

Prince Andrew and the Queen Mum said...

andrew says..'does Pat look hilarious?'

want to hear more on how you handle the 'i quit' stuff. Andrew does that too. and he's standing here reading this while I type it...

walking said...

I think it is important that I was not manipulating her by telling her not to cry. I was simply staying calm and neutral and letting her know what Dad did to make up for the loss of Lily. She was very actively seeking out information about the new bird when Steve was moving him to the cage. Down the road, when our beloved dog Loa dies, this may be the positive episodic memory upon which we can build.

When I hear "I quit", that tells me I need to provide more scaffolding. In this case, I ended up turning off the camera and helping Pamela and Steve. I also stayed positive and encouraging in my attitude. Pamela did not run off and stuck with us because I was doing what I could to help.

With David, I have other strategies like humor. With math, I go back to concrete or back to what he can do. Or I work on episodic memory, "I remember hating significant digits in chemistry, too" or "Remember when you had a hard time with fractions and you eventually got it?"

Anonymous said...

I am sorry. (((HUGS)))