Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Day 2 - Poopie Training Continued.


(This is Gus' multi-step visual schedule for his No. 2 routine)

When you live with a person (a small person) with Autism, velcro moves from obscure craft aid to center of your universe, literally just inches from the sun and about as precious as diamonds. In our home so many things are velcroed, that I have designated a special pair of scissors for the task.

Most people with autism are highly visual and learn in Gestalt (meaning they learn in chunks) so seeing what's ahead and where they are is VERY IMPORTANT. As for Gus, he likes a visual schedule for the things he is not so sure about and doesn't have the communication skills to walk himself through yet (he likes to talk out loud for things he has mastered). He also is a bit (a very big bit) of a perfectionist (hmmm I wonder who he got that from?) and prefers to take on new tasks only after he is sure that he can succeed at it (again, who does that remind you of?) Visual schedules simply spell out - visually - the individual steps required to accomplish a goal. Making the individual steps removable and designating a place for them to go into (see the envelope below the schedule?), shows that things are moving ahead and that the end is in sight, Gus is especially fond of putting steps behind him.

It also keeps the carrot (in this case Mater from Pixar Cars) front and center. If you are Gus, Mater is worth going through bathroom hell for.

We chose small impersonal graphics, as pictures of the real thing seemed to have the opposite of the desired effect (Gus did not like the picture of my poopie in the potty, nor did the young man at the counter at CVS. I have since gotten a color printer).

Gus uses a visual schedule for a variety of tasks, including cooking his own Mac n' Cheese, washing his hands and asking Daddy to help him climb his favorite tree. We also use one for dreaded things like Doctor's office and fun things like going to the store, on a hike or to a play date.

Being a notorious list maker myself (my weekly grocery list is a work of strategic economy and my daily to-do's often hint at a highly OCD-developed mind) I have no trouble seeing how schedules help in daily life and as with most tool for autism, they work great with neuro-normal kids, too.

The idea is that in future years, Gus will either be able to come up with his own schedules for things that confuse him or will be able to follow a schedule someone else has made for him. Once he can read and write, these schedules will turn into something very similar to my daily to-do lists.

Now, let's focus on putting a check mark behind the poopie bullet on my list.
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