Thursday, November 30, 2006

back on track with Stage 4; well, sort of

So we had addressed our roadblocks and were ready to forge ahead with Stage 4. In no time at all, most of the objectives were looking pretty good, most of the time. But every once in awhile, something I tried with Jacob would totally throw him.

Here's an example of how this would happen: one day I pulled into the grocery store, and announced that we were going to shop the grocery list backwards (from the bottom up). Jacob burst into tears, insisting that we couldn't do it that way (I believe the exact words were "never, never, ever, never"). I was shocked with the intensity of the emotion, so I told him that it was OK, we'd shop the "usual" way this time, and NEXT time we'd try it backwards (thinking that maybe he just needed a little bit of warning about that big of a variation). But he insisted that we do it backwards, now that I said we were doing it that way, even tho he cried the entire time (and weren't we a pleasant spectacle, a screaming child and woman shopping against the flow of traffic....). It was as if my SAYING something was more important than him feeling strongly that we shouldn't. This scenario repeated over and over, and caused me to wonder what was at play.

It finally occured to me that that sort of "variation" was really a Stage 5 type "transformation", so of course he couldn't handle it, he hadn't even mastered Stage 4 yet. But that didn't explain why he then went on to insist on doing it the way I said, even tho it was very upsetting to him to do it that way.

We scheduled an RDA for Jacob to try to sort these things out, and in the process of speaking with our consultant, we had it figured out before we even went for the RDA -- yes, Jacob was close to Stage 4 mastery. But in the process of removing his inflexibility, we discovered that he no longer had any basis for making decisions. He used to just pick the "usual" way of doing something, or the "same" items. Now he just stared in blank confusion when faced with a choice, even a simple choice like whether to wear the green shirt or the red shirt that day. If I didn't offer MY perspective/suggestion, he was left with no ability to appraise a situation and make a decision. He was almost entirely lacking in self awareness -- not only did he not know what his preferences were, he just didn't have any. Nor any basis of how to form them.

So the answer to my previous quandry was that even though he wasn't happy with something that I suggested, it was extremely important to him that we stick with what I said. Because if I couldn't stick with my decision, it left him feeling ungrounded.

Our RDI program took a sudden turn away from Stage Objectives and focused instead on practicing making choices and building self-awareness.


At 10:12 AM, Anonymous kyra said...

i love how you are breaking this down and bringing us along on your journey. it's so exciting to read about each step. it feels like a wonderful suspense story! one with an assured happy ending.

At 2:19 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I work at a school for autistic children and I've never seen one that couldn't make simple choices. If you had held out two of Jacob's preferred foods, would he not have reached for one of them?

At 3:26 PM, Blogger Harvest Mom said...

No, he would not have. He would have said "I don't know". Now, if you offered him a food he prefered and a food he did not, he would have chosen the prefered food. But choosing between two foods he would eat? No, he wasn't able to do that.


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