Susan's Blog

Saturday, March 10, 2007

Natmon Comes Alive

OOh Baby I love your way, everyday.
–Peter Frampton

It is springtime in my family. Nat, my tall yellow flower, seems to be blossoming once more. He has become very enthusiastic about making his art creations, which are cray-pas on colored construction paper, cut up, and then carefully glued. They are just beautiful, magnificent mosaics of paper and soft color. His teacher recently discovered his preferred medium, and helped him articulate it by cutting up some of his drawings and getting out the glue. Now he is a cutting-and-gluing fiend!

Nat is also now a laundry maven. He forces me to do the laundry as soon as the hamper is half-full (when to me, eternal lazi-est, it is half-empty!). He says, softly but intently, staring into my eyes, holding onto my hands, “Laundry…” And he won’t quit until it gets done. So, you might say that this means in ABA-land, that I should NOT give in, since he is nagging me. Or does it mean that I should give in, to reward him for talking to me? Or does it mean I should NOT give in because I should be setting the terms of the household? Or does it mean I should give in because here is something that Nat really likes to do, that is important to him?

You see how you can really fardreit dein kopf with this stuff. I chose the last option, because I like knowing what is important to Nat and honoring that, particularly since he asked me so nicely! So, together we did a few loads. Here there is always laundry to do, dust to pick up, food to buy, toilets to clean. You vant doit and drek? Ve got.

Anyway, where was I? My tall yellow flower. Today our Home Based Therapist came to do more training and troubleshooting, basically to help me work on the IEP programs in our home. So for months we have been working on getting Nat to initiate with what he wants. The program is to walk within five feet or more of Nat, and without looking at him or cuing him, getting him to ask me for his pills. We have really gotten very far with this.

Now, at school, they have been working on ways to get Nat to converse. I love the way they have done this. They help him by knowing him so well, and they are able to encourage accurate responses from him because of this. So Jessica came today to show us how to run Nat’s conversation programs. She brought this DVD of Nat working on conversing at school. I love the way his teacher is enjoying him, and he is right there with her. See if you can pick out the utterly age appropriate thing he does during the clip!


I think we all have moments where we tie ourselves up in knots trying to work out if we’re going backwards or forwards by ‘doing’ or ‘not doing’ something.

— added by Maddy on Saturday, March 10, 2007 at 3:37 pm

how great that you shared that! more “movies” please!!!

— added by Anonymous on Saturday, March 10, 2007 at 3:56 pm

this is not meant to be mean, but…

if i were Nat, i think would be frustrated by the fact that she couldn’t really have seen all those movies last night and that none of this conversation is real.

i would do a lot more than a small belch.

Nat is a patient guy? or he is just really used to ABA?

— added by Natalia on Saturday, March 10, 2007 at 7:17 pm

Natalia, your comment made me smile! It is a little ridiculous the way the program is run. We can tweak that. But he really is a patient guy! He does what he can, he’s Miniman…

— added by Susan Senator on Saturday, March 10, 2007 at 7:26 pm

I would totally do laundry the minute Nat asked me, as well. The fact that he is initiating is fabulous. In a non ABA household, when my 6 year old asks to do laundry – I do it as I think it is great that he is initiating.

LOVE the video – Nat is too cute and looks great. Small steps – next video I hope she says something like – I went to see a great belly dancer last night! Nat’s response will be – that was my mom!

— added by Anonymous on Saturday, March 10, 2007 at 9:31 pm

Thank you, Anon! Maybe some day…

— added by Susan Senator on Saturday, March 10, 2007 at 9:40 pm

I just didn’t like it because the conversation was not anything like a real world conversation. She seemed like an autistic perseverating on the word “Iwenttothemovieslastnight”. Nat’s responses were more normal than her statements.

I mean she’s modeling something icky. If Nat knows he’s just doing a drill, then I guess its OK like learning a foreign language in a class, but if she’s really pretending that she’s gone to all those movies, she’s lying and messing with his head.

I just don’t like it. I can’t believe its the best way to teach him to converse. Not that you have to listen to me, of course. He’s very sweet. He has a nice voice.

— added by maximum me on Saturday, March 10, 2007 at 11:23 pm

I love his voice too. I don’t think it makes a big difference either way..whether Nat thinks she saw all those movies or not. There will always be that little pain when the parent knows what is realistic and what isn’t. My Chance, now age 8, wants to travel in a space suit to all the planets. I asked him who would drive the space ship and after not really answering my repeated question I guess he just thought it would drive itself. He doesn’t seem to understand that I am driving our car either. I should just be able to pick up things he dropped in the back seat instead of paying attention to the road. Right? Hehe. I am still searching for Chance’s favorite medium. He could take or leave art. It seems like open-ended hell for him sometimes. It is a shame- all the untouched crayons, paints, papers, pencils, markers, stencils, etc. that we have here. I can see how laundry can be open-ended as well. It is never done. What a tragedy!

— added by mrs. gilb on Sunday, March 11, 2007 at 1:45 pm

oh, i love nat! he is so handsome and has the greatest voice, so resonant!

i just wish the conversation could be a real one. why not? can’t they talk about real things, things that maybe the therapist is interested in? where the experience they’re sharing could come from a genuine place?

he seems SO ready for that, so capable. it felt, to me, as if he was interested in this woman and enjoyed her company. what a perfect, and sensical step it would be to make the interaction more meangingful and real.

— added by kyra on Sunday, March 11, 2007 at 2:26 pm

I think she should talk to him about the art of doing laundry, something all young men should know about.

— added by Anne on Sunday, March 11, 2007 at 4:58 pm

Watching Nat have the appropriate interchange with his teacher made me so proud of him, and ache for my son, who is non-verbal, and will never have a conversation like that. Nat also showed eye contact, which for us, is huge. My son is only 9, but if he could do anything close to what Nat is doing, I’d jump for joy. Who cares if what the teacher said really happened? It’s just an exercise!
Thank you Susan for sharing Nat’s accomplishment – good for him!

— added by Anonymous on Sunday, March 11, 2007 at 8:42 pm

I’m so happy they are focusing on helping Nat to use his language. He will say lots more if they keep this up. He’s a real cutiepie, and what a beautiful voice too!

— added by Candy on Monday, March 12, 2007 at 11:47 pm

I enjoyed watching that.

Patrick needs repetition for learing conversation as well. We don’t use any particular method or structure, but we do have to have him practice certain interactions over and over again until he understands how that conversation works. We couldn’t just “talk” or nothing would happen.

— added by mumkeepingsane on Tuesday, March 13, 2007 at 10:17 am

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