I can see clearly now....

I am writing this with my sharper bionic vision; thanks to a new pair of specs. Had to go and get retested as the old pair were in the Stolen Suitcase. (which has not been returned) Turns out Downsdad's blog is not meant to be in soft focus. And the letters on this page don't slide off to the right. Pity, it was a cool effect.

But I'm proud to say I barely wore the other pair.
A, because Bratty wouldn't let me, she doesn't like any thing different on my face (so no botox or collagen, drat!)
B, The optometrist told me 2 years ago to try and do without my glasses as often as I could or I would Learn to Depend on them.
I only had them in London to read the Tube Map, which needs to be A Whole Lot Bigger by the way!
Anyways, I got tested again on Tuesday, and it turns out I really do need them now.
Most of the time.

And I couldn't help but wonder about what the Optometrist had said about

Learned Dependence.

This is a prickly issue. Because as you know my kids now both attend a full time fully supervised and managed ABA school. So yeah, they are both doing great Table Top programs with loads of opportunities for speech and comprehension, they both do group work, waiting for others to have a turn, they have p.e and O.T. and get to play in the garden. Arts and Crafts, Academics,
And they get to learn life skills.

Because this little school had a couple of empty rooms which were too small for classes so they fund raised to fit out a full kitchen, with washing machine, and then set up a little bedroom.
And from day one my Boo has been not only cooking his own noodles (in the microwave) but then rinsing his bowl and putting it in the dishwasher.
And he brought the skill home with him. Nearly had kittens the first time I opened the dishwasher to see his ketchupy bowl sitting there on the top shelf.

Now I would be like many parents; worse probably because of my "Monica" tendencies in that I would rather do something for them than see them make a mess of it and have to clean up afterwards.
When you are running a home, with people needing clean clothes, and meals and bath times and somewhere in all of that you want to watch Ewan McGregor riding his motorbike across Europe you fall into always taking the expedient option of Doing it Yourself.

Men Have Known this for Centuries. The first time they are asked to do house work and you catch them using one hand to mop, you snatch it away and say " For Goodness sake!"
(and they sit back down in front of the Sky Sports and say "Score!" quietly)

But one day we wake up with two kids over the age of 9 who cannot do anything for themselves.

That is where the managed and supervised ABA school comes in.

In their previous setting the staff ratios, absence of planning, management or qualified supervision meant that things happened much as they do at home. Worse in some cases.

I was teaching Boo to cut his sandwiches himself at one stage and sent in a plastic picnic knife with his sandwich left whole for him to practice at school. I knew what was going on when it came home again, uneaten but cut into squares. (who eats a square sandwich? Triangles taste MUCH better)

And no amount of suggestions from the O.T. or the Speech therapist and even the Pecs Consultant who thought the kids could practice requesting at lunchtimes; ever got through.
It just suited the staff to do it themselves.
And when one Mum noticed the kitchen wasn't being tidied during the day; (gross)
she suggested that the senior class could be taught to do it, as a life skill.
The staff were aghast, it would take too long, we need to take our breaks.....
Oh fuh feck.......Hmmm.

So to focus back on the positive, The Noodles task got me to thinking of how I could improve my home game and I realised I was still dressing Boo every morning to go to school. He could dress himself on weekends, but with the flies at the back, t-shirts inside out, sometimes he put shorts over underpants, sometimes he forgot to take off his jammies and put the shorts over those. A great look for dance class in "Fame" the movie, but not a good way to fit into the typical world.

I spoke to Boo's supervisor and she consulted with the Occupational therapist and they did a task analysis and, for the last 4 weeks Boo and his tutor have been working with different types of clothes. All this happens in the little bedroom where he pretends to have a sleep then wake up, and re-arranges the clothes out in the way they should be worn.
Eventually he will be getting them out of the press himself and the next step is putting them on, the Right way round.
I still dress him in the mornings, but now he co-operates and doesn't feign helplessness. I am setting the alarm 15 minutes earlier to ensure chooses each part of his outfit, giving him some power over the operation, some confidence and Independence. (and hey, some fashion nous!)
Post Script.
I just stood up from writing and got dragged (blindly) over to Bratty's computer to draw a flower next to Po. And I realised that by responding to the Drag, I was once again teaching her Learned Dependence!!!!
You see every time we respond to a hand tug or unintelligible mumble or even worse; we run around like Business class air hostesses anticipating our child's every need; we de-skill them.
Being the Interpreter that translates word approximations that your functionally non-verbal 8 year old is making doesn't help them.
Because the first time you go out and leave them with someone who doesn't understand you create a whole mess of misunderstandings and behaviour which only escalates. And if, by the end of the screaming and crying they have worked out what Bratty does want, they have just rewarded the Tantrum.
Which leaves a very traumatised babysitter.
People may have wondered why I complained so much about losing 13% of my home help funding. Well these magical girls I have found are worth ten times what the health board is giving me to pay them. Yes, most of the time my kids are good fun. They entertain themselves quite happily, they are both toilet trained and make limited demands. Bratty, despite her name never gets into mischief and is extremely endearing and fun to play with. Boo is usually pretty compliant and very engaging.
But my helpers have to have the CAPACITY to cope with Boo having a panic attack, or Bratty when she is angry. (as in Dont make me angry, you wouldn't like me when I'm angry!)
Just ask Angel No 2 who was minding Bratty last Friday (Mr Hammie and I had a night off)
and found she couldn't understand what "I want Bidgeo Pay" meant.
Bratty was hysterical and kept shoving the remote into Angel 2's hands. So she phoned Angel No 1 who drove over (bless her) and demonstrated how to select the Video channel on Bratty's T.V.
Because Bidgeo Pay = Video Play,
or "kindly select the video channel for me please" - In Bratty speak.
Angel No 2 didn't breathe a word of this to me. She said she will come back and mind them again. (Yay!.)
But I'm glad Angel No 1 spilled the beans because it has taught me to ensure that Bratty Always uses her primary communication which in this case is picture exchange COMBINED with speech.
But more importantly, Stop selecting the Video channel and And start Teaching Bratty to do it!!
It will take a few extra seconds each time, but if it means that Angel No 2 never has to experience the full force of the Brat in power tantrum then it will be worth it.
(Mr Hammie and I can go away again)
And our kids will have the skills to get on without us, eventually.


Gracie:) said…

Delighted you brought this up as I am working on a programme to stop ME doing for him what he can do for himself and it is completely, totally and fully my own issue. He's not helpless, stupid or incapable by any means, in fact I wish I possesed his sceeming skills and avoidance acrobats.

So ive got to kick myself in the ass and wake up.
Oddly enough I push people to spill beans on him, I want to know every detail of avoidance behavior etc. so I can go work out how to reduce and fade it out.

Now I have to work out what im facilitating to reduce and fade out in myself.
Oh Maan im gonna be up half the night.....

Hammie it sounds like Boo and Bratty are doing fantasticly well. Good on you and them and long may it last :)

Gracie:) said…
BTW I love the artistic and fitting photo, very clever.
Sister Wolf said…
I knew what Bidgeo Pay was immediately!

I am falling in love with your family.
Sesame said…
Guilty on lots of counts here. I didn't realise I was doing so much for all my kids until the psychologist came to the house armed with his file full of questions for me to answer about Babs.
Q. Can he drink from a cup?
A. Yes.
Q. Without making a mess?
A. Yes.
Q. Does he use a fork or a spoon? A. Both.
Q. Can he do up a zipper?
A. Don't know he's never had to. Q. What about buttons?
Same answer. You get my drift.

That was an eye opener for me. I didn't realise that by me dressing all of my kids so we can get out the door on time I was hindering not helping them. I do everything for them and then when I ask or expect them to do something themselves I give out because they can't.

My eldest is 7 and come school swimming day when the mommies have to go in to help dry the little ones off, she stands there waiting for me to dry her when I have finished her little sister, making no attempt to even try herself.

I have improved a bit though. Babs is perfectly able to dress himself. He struggles with socks and getting top on his head but who doesn't? I now leave my girls to dry themselves after their shower and although she gives out the eldest has been forced to do something for herself. (It would be embarrassing for her next year if I was seen to be drying her after swimming).

On the other hand, I tried to never give in to Babs when he grabbed my hand and put it on the fridge door. I knew he wanted a drink but until he asked for "drink juice PLEASE mammy" he didn't get one. Everytime he asked he got one. Now I don't know if he is a very thirsty boy or if it's just a habit. But it's hard to refuse anything once he has asked..that's another days work.

Hope you & Mr Hammie had a good night out on Friday and here's to many more.
Nick McGivney said…
The intensity may be notched up a few degrees when autism plays its part, but the core of what you're saying here is excellent advice for anyone who's a parent with young kids. We all slide into the trap of 'If you want it done properly...'

Good post, Hambo. You be talking heap plenty sense.
Style On Track said…
Your posts are always fantastic to read, keep up your fantastic job Hammie :)
Lisamaree said…
thanks Mammy, Sis, Nick, Sesame, Ali and Track.
Mammy: my resolve was tested yesterday morning when I came downstairs to a cheerio and milk trail from the counter to the table. A litre of milk and half a box does not fit in one small bowl, apparently. I shut up and Mopped! (milky mop now lives in garden)
Sis< thankyou. Half the problem is loving them too much. As my Aunt Grace, God rest her , used to say "I've made a rod for my own back" Thanks again for the encouragement folks. xx
Anonymous said…
Hammie, how do you find the time to think so insightfully? This post was a reminder to myself about my own children, what am I thinking by not letting them do things themselves?! I'm glad your children are in a good school, it makes such a difference.
Elizabeth said…
Ah, Learned Dependence. One of the most interesting and excellent topics of all time, especially for me, a lover of control. I have to fight the urge to do everything here at home.

I'm so glad you discussed it. All the examples you gave really opened my eyes to the many different ways we can go in a new direction.

I feel like I learn so much when I read your blog. I also know I sound like a broken record when I say this each and every time.


p.s.: I'm sorry your bag hasn't come back to you.
Anonymous said…
This one really hit home with me!! Button is well able do alot of things for himself, but it's sooooooo much easier, quicker and tidier if I do them for him! I'm really trying hard to take a step back, and let him fgure things out. I knew we had a problem when he was on the toilet, doing his business and said "it's hard work. Mommy help"!! Much as I love him I do have my limits!! Teaching him independence is surely the best gift I can give him, along with the assurance that I'll be following behind wiping up the spilt juice and cornflakes!!
Lisamaree said…
Cybil, Enc and Tazz; I guess it takes the strangest encounters to get us thinking about life; such as the Optometrist. But really it is always there in front of us. I just think like the iceberg the reasons for our kids behaviour is below the surface while we are on the Titanic trying to work out where all this cold water is coming from.
Seeker said…
Learned Dependence... what a great issue to talk about, and you've great insights.
That's true, sometimes we think we're helping doing things, but we are just making people depend on us.
I'm doing it all the time at my office. I think it makes me feel needed, but I also think about that dependence.

As have been said "teach to fish, don't give the fish"

Take care dear.
Lisamaree said…
That's so funny Seeker! Because in my former life of paid work, I ALWAYS taught my staff to fish! I always made sure there was transparency in my work so that others could follow what I was up to easily.
And yet here I am as a mother doing the opposite.
Anonymous said…
Hi Hammie, your latest and greatest but then again your latest is always your greatest!!
I had to laugh about the eyes though as I am probably at the stage you were at. Was looking through Paris Metro maps and found I could no longer read them- shock, horror. Optician said at last visit that I would be back to her sooner rather than later. Looks like she was correct.
Nick hit the nail on the head with his comments about how applicable your experience is when it comes to other children as well.
Sorry to read about your *%^!# neighbours. Hope they have cleaned up their act.