Friday, April 17, 2009

Making Laundry Soap

Since Pamela is working on ratios in math right now, I have been looking for concrete activities to practice these skills. Everyone is either going green or looking to save a few bucks, and the Internet is full of recipes for cheap, green cleaning products. Not only did we make the soap, we measured how many cups of each ingredient per purchase so that we can calculate the unit cost on Monday and do some comparison pricing.

Pamela and I tried this recipe for making dry laundry soap, and we have a load of laundry soaking in 1/4 cup of this concoction. I cannot attest to the quality of the mixture at present:

1 bar of grated soap (I chose Ivory)
1 cup of Borax
1 cup of baking soda

When I studied the video, I realized how many objectives we covered during this activity: measuring dry ingredients, adding, experience sharing, joint attention, life skills, vocabulary, and nonverbal communication. The highlight for me was a ten-second nonverbal conversation between Pamela and me:

I was surfing the net for any good links about nonverbal communication and autism, and a passage explaining the DSM-IV criteria from the book Autism: Understanding the Disorder helped me glimpse the big picture about the strides Pamela is making:
The first criterion [under reciprocal social interaction] is "marked impairment in the use of multiple nonverbal behaviors such as eye-to-eye gaze, facial expression, body postures, and gestures to regulate social interaction." In the area of eye to eye gaze, a person with autism may avoid eye contact or, conversely, may stare so intently into the eyes of his listeners as to make them uncomfortable. With regard to facial expression, a person with autism may display a flat, blunted affect or alternatively may show an inappropriate amount or intensity of laughter or distress. Body postures or gestures may lack nonverbal enhancements such as head nodding, pointing, or the shrugging of shoulders. (pages 21-22)
Let me catalog all of the awesome actions Pamela took to regulate our communication: Pamela turned her head to look where I held my gaze and assumed I wanted her to write something. She picked up the pencil with her right hand, switched it to her left hand, and momentarily leaned in to write. She shifted her gaze to watch me pick up the cup of baking soda. She pointed to the box of baking soda with her right hand, quickly glanced at me, and nodded and raised her eyebrows. She watched me shake my head and grab the baking soda, and she followed my movement with her eye gaze. When I put the box on the table, looked down on it and pointed to it, she glanced at me again, pointed to the cup, nodded, and raised her eyebrows again. She waited for my reaction and, when I pointed to her and then her paper, she turned her attention back to her paper.

And ALL of that took place in about ten seconds!

Donna said...

Thanks for the comment on Children of the New Forest. I can't wait to read it again when the boys get to year 3.5 or 4 (can't remember). Are you going to be at Charlotte Mason this year? We also read Understood Betsy this year, which I was familiar with thanks to your talk on it last year!! Hope to see you soon!

Happy Elf Mom (Christine) said...

I'm guessing you have very good pipes. Our plumber specifically recommends store-bought liquid stuff for older houses.

Anonymous said...

I loved the non verbal communication piece,!!!! You guys are awesome!!
I love to stop by and watch you guys as you move in this journey....
Bea

Jenny said...

This is a great example of doing an everyday thing with your child and using it as a therapeutic intervention and homeschooling! As always, great using an example how to make each encounter one that can build up our children...:)

So how does the soap work? I would like to try it if you think it works well...

-Jennie

walking said...

Donna, I will be going to the conference too and I am glad you love Betsy, too.

Mrs. C, we have never had plumbing problems but the previous owner had it all redone.

Bea, I am so glad that others have pioneered the journey for folks like us!

Jennie, the soap works well and I included an update here, not to mention even more mileage on the homeschooling front with this activity.