The past two weeks we have been, and are currently, working on the following:
Oliver LOVES books, but only if he’s holding it and turning the pages quickly. While allowing him to do this encourages appropriate book handling, I want him to be able to allow me to hold it so that he can listen and comprehend the story and point at different characters on each page, which would give us a better chance of getting him to imitate words and sounds. I am making it a rule for, when working on goals, I have complete control of the book, while reading it. I give him a chance to turn to page and point at different things on each page. He is still getting pretty frustrated that he can’t just turn all of the pages and then be finished with the book, but there have been several moments where he actually looked at the pages without any grief, so I have hope and plan to persist in this.
We are still working on rolling the ball saying “roll” each time. Playing together encourages engagement, playing across from each other encourages eye contact, and saying “roll” encourages word imitation. He has attempted to say “roll” several times now!
We have been practicing the following songs: Elevator song, Itsy Bitsy Spider, Head Shoulders Knees and Toes, Row Your Boat, If you’re happy and you know it, I’m a little teapot, Open shut them, Ring around the rosie (attempted holding hands and spinning), hickory dickory dock, and old McDonald. He laughed and smiled at all songs every time. He imitates the actions to: Open Shut Them, The Elevator Song, and tried a little with Itsy Bitsy Spider.
We’re currently dealing with feeding issues around texture. He is not wanting to eat anything other than fruit. He is making himself throw up or spitting out/refusing anything that isn’t fruit. We have a meeting scheduled with an OT later this week. He is having lots of veggie/protein powder/coconut milk smoothies to make up for his lost foods. His naturopath thinks that with his supplements and smoothies, that he should be fine until we get this worked out with the OT, but that I should continue offering other foods, of course.
This past Thursday, we had an appointment with one of the early intervention center’s Speech Language Pathologists. She observed Oliver and my’s interactions for a few minutes and then suggested that I use shorter sentences and speak with exclamations rather than questions. I had never thought about or realized this, but I talk to him using long and complete sentences most of the time and ask him questions, even though I know he can’t respond to them. I figured that, by doing this, I would be expanding his vocabulary and giving him opportunities to answer me back. She said that this is okay in moderation, but that I can best engage him by upping my “affect” and using one to two word statements; she called this the “one up” rule. Because Oliver uses one word statements when he speaks, I should be on his level, while increasing my words by one. So, once I can get him to imitate what I say (a word one sentence), such as “UP!” when stacking blocks, then I should add in another word, such as “Blocks UP!” and continue on with this until he can imitate full sentences. This is called the “One up” rule and I find it completely fascinating! Using an exclamation rather than question when it’s my turn lets him know that it’s my idea instead of his– this increases and encourages flexibility in play. So, for example, I would say, “Time to read a book!” rather than my usual, “Oliver, do you want to read a book?”.
One of Oliver’s biggest tantrum sources, when it comes to play, is his stacked blocks falling over. Everytime they have ever fallen over, he is sent into an excruciating screaming fit. The Speech Language Pathologist was able to witness this and suggested saying “Up, Up, Up!” as we stack, encourage pushing them over, then saying “Down!” with a smile then cheering “Yay!” and clapping, as to make their falling over a fun experience rather than a scary one. We have been working on this goal several times a day and have successfully 100% stopped the screaming associated with falling blocks. After cheering and saying “Down!”, I start saying “Up, Up, Up!” again to start the game over again and he replaces his fear of their falling with excitement and anticipation. I am so proud of him and so grateful for this suggestion.
Before using Care Bears (Oliver’s go-to calming TV show) as a coping mechanism, we will use Care Bears print off coloring pages. By turning on the TV for Oliver, when he is inconsolable, I am teaching him that if he cries and cries, that he will get the TV. While I don’t do this all that often, his Special Educator suggested using it as a reward only, because when he is in school the teacher won’t be able to turn on Care Bears for him when he’s having a tantrum. I just Google searched “Care Bears print off coloring pages” and downloaded several of them. I’m going to start using those today– I thought this was a great idea and encourage you all to give that a go with whatever your child’s interest is. Another example would be buying stuffed animals/figurines of the characters/animals/objects of interest, buying a related book, or singing a song from the movie/TV show to calm your child.