Wednesday, October 07, 2009

Dynamic Solutions, Not Bandages

"I Love the '80s" download from Amazon. By '80s, they mean the following compositions by the following composers:
  • Brahms' Symphony No. 3 in F major, Op. 90
  • Mahler's Symphony No. 1 in D major, "Titan"
  • Tchaikovsky's Symphony No. 5 in E minor, Op. 64
  • Dvorak's Symphony No. 6 in D major, Op. 60, B. 112
  • Borodin's Symphony No. 3 in A minor
  • Saint-Saens' Symphony No. 3 in C minor, Op. 78, "Organ"
  • Bruckner's Symphony No. 9 in D minor, WAB 109 (1894 version)

Now back to your regular programming . . .
Adjusting to school has left me little time to blog our RDI journey, which we still do, of course! In fact, I am trying to incorporate dynamic intelligence into our school lessons.

A few Sundays back, a minor problem at church bothered nobody but David. I usually sit in front with the choir for half of the service, while the family stays in the pew. Steve ran eight miles that morning, instead of five, and was too drained to get off the couch! During the service, Pamela usually draws on the bulletin, sermon notes and quotes, and guest registries. While the pastor was speaking, she stood up, looking for a sharpened pencil.

Our very understanding congregation are Pamela's biggest fans. They are delighted when she speaks to them, even if, before the service, she abruptly points to someone with an eye patch and says, "You broke it!" While David (face turning beet red) guided his sister to sit down, Pamela remained oblivious to his discomfort. The lady behind him was chuckling the whole time, and I found out later that her grandson is autistic and sits behind us for that reason!

After church, David begged me to work on this problem. Two quick-fixes that get the job done in a static way are:

Plan A (Nothing more than a band-aid): Put enough paper, pencils, and lead in her purse to keep Pamela happy. This static solution (single response) will get David through church.

Plan B (A more sophisticated band-aid): Come up with a set of rules on how to behave in church and make her learn them. I will not try this plan because it is a static solution that does not promote dynamic thinking.

While we implemented Plan A, we also addressed the real problem through RDI. The underlying issue is that Pamela is not doing a good job of monitoring her actions and those of people around her and then reflecting on her behavior in comparison to theirs.

Lesson 1 - We spent two weeks people watching at every opportunity we could. Whenever we walked into a new setting, we observed what other people were doing and made declarative comments about them. We also talked about our actions.

Lesson 2 - Now, we are working on the second lesson. In addition to people watching, we figure out the kind of group we are watching. Pamela then assesses whether or not she belongs to the group. Then, she decides what her behavior ought to be. The goal is not to force conformity but to think about each situation dynamically. For example, in church last Sunday, my men were down hard and Pamela came to church with me and sat in the choir. She decided the choir was not her group, so she sat whenever we stood and sang. Later, in the pews, she decided to stand up with me for the last song (instead of sitting) but chose not to sing.

Last night, even though her dad was home and she could have stayed with him, Pamela wanted to attend my women's Bible study. When she was in the mood to explore and be apart from the group, she identified herself as not being in the group. However, at the end, when they prayed, she decided to be in the group and sat quietly during the prayer. She even said, "Amen," at the end. The beautiful expression on Pamela's face when she heard the music from the DVD cue-in will surely cheer you up if you have had a horrible, no-good, awfully rotten day.


John said...

I recognize the music as Beth Moore's Esther study... Great study and you are right, Pamela's face and pure enjoyment of the music is priceless.

walking said...

Hey, Susan, you just won "Name That Tune"! Awesome!!!!

Stephanie said...

It sounds like you belong to a wonderful church! And as always, I love the way you break down your dynamic approach so clearly, using your gift for clear thinking and writing. I am always inspired and encouraged when I come here.

walking said...

I really do love the people at my church. It is too small to have a special needs program, but that is okay. I prefer Pamela being able to mix and mingle with a wide variety of people of her choosing.

Anonymous said...

Pamela is truly beautiful. There is something about music and our Autistic just brings out the best in them. Jackson loves music and dancing also.

argsmommy said...

Thank you for the freebie alert -- I'm listening to my new downloads as I catch up on blog reading. : )

I love your people watching lesson!