Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Feeling Loving and Easy … no matter what your child is doing

Susan Humphries
Son-Rise Program® Teacher,
Autism Treatment Center of America®

All of us have moments when we are uneasy, frustrated, angry, sad, afraid, or some version of “uncomfortable” in circumstances involving our children. So let’s talk about turning this frustration into elation!

Here are some of the most common “uncomfortable” circumstances that parents tell us about:
  • My child is physically intense with himself or others.
  • My child is screaming and crying for hours at a time.
  • My child is destroying my house (breaking glass, kicking holes in the wall, throwing her/his dinner across the room).
  • My child is eating and smearing his/her pooh.
  • My high functioning child only wants to talk about; (kitchen appliances, "What time is Mom coming home," Minecraft™, "What would happen if I ran outside with no clothes on," etc.)
Most people would react in an uneasy way to one or all of these scenarios above.

Taking a closer look, your initial response of discomfort actually has nothing to do with the circumstances. Your discomfort actually comes from what you are thinking or the beliefs you are holding when you witness your child’s challenging behavior.

Here are some simple steps you can use right away to stay relaxed in response to any of your child’s challenging behaviors … to help you turn your frustration to elation. These tips will help in a variety of situations. We will use the “pooh scenario” as an example.

1.   Be Aware, Acknowledge and Accept your uncomfortable feeling in the moment
o    Be aware of what you are feeling in the moment i.e. sad, angry, irritated, nervous, etc. For example, when you see your child smearing pooh, do you feel your muscles tighten? Do you start running towards your child? Do your eyes pop out of your head while you scream, “Noooooo”? The feeling behind all this action is irritation.
o    Acknowledge the feeling by thinking to yourself, “I am getting myself irritated.” Notice, I am saying “getting myself” vs. “the poop on the wall is getting me irritated.” You are choosing this feeling based on a belief you are having about the circumstance. You are doing the absolute best you can in this moment based on this belief. For example, you may see the pooh on the wall and get yourself irritated because you are believing that your in-laws will judge you as a poor and ineffective parent when they come over to visit. To avoid this future judgment you reacted by yelling at your child in the moment. You did this in hopes that your child will whip himself/herself into shape before your in-laws next visit.
o    Accept your feeling in the moment. Say to yourself sweetly, “I am getting myself irritated and that is totally OK!” This way you will be more motivated to understand your thinking. Remember, you are doing the best you can with what you know in the moment.

2.   Decide that your happiness is your priority! All of the actions are based on what you believe. Here are some supportive beliefs to help you feel more comfortable right away.
o    My child is doing the best they can with what they know and how their sensory system copes with the world.
o    My loving relationship with my child is the most important thing at this moment. I only have control of my feelings, thoughts and actions. I am not in control of my child’s feelings or others’ feelings, thoughts and actions.
o    When I am feeling comfortable and easy, I am a part of the solution. My comfort will help me be a more effective teacher to help my child accomplish our long term goals.
o    When I am easy, my child will move towards me. When I am uneasy, my child will move away from me.
o    My child’s challenges do not diminish who I am as a parent and how much I love my child.
o    The more I think in supportive ways, the easier it will be for me to be happy.

3.   Take Action
o    Explanations are powerful for your child’s comfort and for yours. Let your child know why you want to help them and how you will do that.
o    Lower your energy when your child behaves in ways you do not want to encourage and be certain to CELEBRATE the behaviors you do want to encourage.
o    Feed yourself with supportive thoughts or a belief you want to try for the day, etc. Post them on your mirror. Set reminders in your smart phone. Read these books for even more ideas: Happiness Is A Choice by Barry Neil Kaufman, Autism Breakthrough by Raun K. Kaufman, Autistic Logistics by Kate C. Wilde.
o    Think of a reason to be grateful in the moment. Love all parts of your child, even when they are challenged. This way you are practicing loving of all aspects of your child; their beautiful smile, their infectious laugh, their intelligence and their autism!
o    Run your Son-Rise Program. This will help your child in all areas in and out of the playroom.

All of us at The Autism Treatment Center of America® and The Son-Rise Program® are cheering each of you on through your loving as well as your most challenging moments. We know that you can turn these moments into opportunities to be totally relaxed no matter what your child is doing. 

Thursday, February 26, 2015

The Son-Rise Program® Sleep Protocol™

This could be your child ... beautifully, quietly sleeping in their own bed.

Photo Notation: Vivek, Age 6, Diagnosis: Autism Spectrum Disorder – Slept in his own bed the first night his parents used The Son-Rise Program Sleep Protocol!

So many of our children have challenges with sleep: going to sleep, staying asleep, sleeping in their own beds etc. This, as you know so well, often results in you having challenges with sleep too!

The Son-Rise Program Sleep Protocol: (condensed version)
1.   Be Ready: In order for this protocol to be effective, it is essential that you really want this to happen. That you see the benefits for your child and family and that YOU are ready for your child to sleep on their own.

2.   Believe your child can change: Even if your child has had sleeping challenges for years, this does not mean they are not capable of sleeping on their own. The brain changes in response to changing stimulus and circumstances. By changing the way you behave around bedtime and sleep, you are offering your child (and their beautiful brain) the chance to change in response.

3.   Know that we can all have the capacity to put ourselves to sleep: When we are babies, we associate the sound of our mothers heartbeat, the smell of her skin and the sound of her voice with a soothing, ‘go to sleep’ feeling.

When we are tired, she may pick us up and again, offer us the sound of her voice, the feel of heartbeat and the sound of her voice, and we use this as our cue to relax and go to sleep. Typically, as children grow older, we begin to put them into their own beds and through this process they begin to soothe themselves instead. They may hug a teddy bear, or rock back and forth. They may wrap their arms around their pillow and hum, or rub their feet together – effectively replacing the old cues with new ones that they created!


Photo Notation: Casey, Age 13, Diagnosis: Autism - Slept in his own bed the second night his parents used The Son-Rise Program Sleep Protocol!

For our children that are unique or on the Autism Spectrum oftentimes this more ‘natural’ process does not occur and they continue to associate the smell and sounds and feel of their parents with sleeping and therefore may appear to ‘need’ Mommy or Daddy in order to fall asleep or stay asleep if they awake (those of you who have middle of the night visitors know what I am talking about). It’s vitally important, essential actually, that you believe that your child, once they are given the opportunity, is perfectly capable of creating a new ‘cue’ that will offer them the same, soothing ‘go to sleep’ message that they had previously gotten from you.

4.   Prepare Using these steps:
a.   Starting a few weeks before you will begin using the Protocol, start counting down on the calendar. Explain to your child (regardless of their age ability) what is going to happen. “Hey Buddy! I have some exciting news!! YOU are going to get to sleep in your own bed, like the big boy that you are! On this day, (show them the calendar) you will finally be able to sleep on your own! Isn’t this exciting??” Mention this at least a couple of times each day.

b.   Tell your child that you are going to get them a brand, new, wonderful Sleep Buddy! This means that just before the day that they are going to sleep in their own bed you go to the store and pick out a wonderful, new stuffed animal (or you can bring your child and they can pick it out!). You are also going to take a soft t-shirt that you own and you are going to sleep in it for a day or two (so it absorbs your wonderful mommy or daddy scent) and you are going to put it on your child’s buddy (so they still go to sleep with the familiar smell of those they love.

c.   On the day that you put them in your own bed, tell your child, “This is so exciting! From now on you will sleep in your own bed and Mom and Dad will sleep in their own bed."

5.   Do it!: After you walk out of your child’s bedroom, pause and take it in - you are on your way! If your child cries, that’s ok, perhaps this will be part of the process they use to find their own ‘soothing’ sound (I have heard many child transition from a cry to a humming at bedtime). If your child comes out, you will take them by the hand and very quietly and sweetly walk them back to their bed (without much talking on your part) and remind them that they get to stay in their own bed. If your child later comes into your bed, do the same thing again – walk them to their own bed, quietly, sweetly and remind them that they get to sleep in their own bed now.


Photo Notation: Leo, Age 6, Diagnosis: Autism - Slept in his own bed the first night his parents used The Son-Rise Program Sleep Protocol!
6.   Stay the course: You may have to walk them back to their room, or get up in the middle of the night and walk them back to their bed ten times in one night. Or perhaps 10 times a night, for numerous nights. Although I suggest being prepared to do the Son-Rise Sleep Protocol for 10 days, the majority of families I have worked with (see the children above?) have had success within 24-48 hours!) Remember, your child will not magically sleep in their own bed, they require our help and guidance and support to make the transition. By staying the course, and being consistent and committed you will offer them this fantastic opportunity to grow.

****Special Added Bonus: YOU GET MORE SLEEP! If you are well rested, you will probably find that you have more energy, more creative ideas, more patience, increased stamina, greater information retention and an increased ability to be playful. What’s not to like?

I am so excited for you to use this protocol!
I also invite anyone who uses it to please send a photo with their child sleeping in their own bed (like those above) to my Executive Assistant: Cyndi Chase at cchase@option.org to be included in our soon to be created 'Son-Rise Program Sleep Hall Of Fame'.


Be well,
Bryn Hogan

Executive Director of the Autism Treatment Center of America®

The Banana Phone

A new video in the series Games4Socialization™
Part of helping our children on the autism spectrum grow their attention span and eye contact is for us to grow our ability to be entertaining. The more playful and entertaining we are the more likely they will want to look at us and engage with us. Click on the video for two playful ideas from The Son-Rise Program on how to use pretend food in an entertaining way.

PLEASE WATCH AND SHARE!

NEW PRODUCTS & NEW PRICE – The Son-Rise Program Starter Kit

The Son-Rise Program Starter Kit ($74.95 + Shipping/handling) is a specially priced selection of outstanding resources designed to help you, your family, your support team and everyone else in your child's life to be able to:
  • Help your child immediately.
  • Further understand The Son-Rise Program.
  • Prepare for a Son-Rise Program Start-Up.
This package includes everything you need for a detailed and comprehensive introduction to The Son-Rise Program.
Order Your Starter Kit Here

Thursday, January 29, 2015

Games4Socialization™ -- Tommy The Talking Tool

We designed “Tommy the Talking Tool “to help children with autism form words and sentences, and have clearer articulation and clarity of speech. The most important ingredient in any learning process is fun! Tommy the Talking tool makes talking more fun and interesting for our children. Click on the video to see how you could make one for yourself and use it with your children.

Rave reviews for Autistic Logistics



Rave reviews for
Autistic Logistics

A Parent's Guide to Tackling Bedtime, Toilet Training, Tantrums, Hitting, and Other Everyday Challenges

by Kate C. Wilde
, Author & Director, The Son-Rise Program
AUTISTIC LOGISTICS provides clear, precise, step-by-step advice on everything you want to know, including ...
  • How to toilet train your child without pushing or pressuring
  • How to get your child to sleep in their own bed and through the night
  • What to do when your child tantrums, hits or bites
  • How to introduce new foods, without a fight

Ideal for all therapies, all age ranges and all points on the spectrum, this book will be of immeasurable value to parents and caregivers of children with autism.
Now Available!


Joining


Kim Korpady,
Son-Rise Program® Child Facilitator

You know the feeling you have when you’re with someone who just "gets you" ... the feeling of being completely understood, fully accepted, and above all just totally LOVED and adored as a person and friend! Ahhh, such a sweet experience to have someone in your life who wants nothing better than to get to know you better and connect with you ... an experience which often leaves you with a lasting impression of your time with that person.

Now imagine your child ... imagine all the hopes you have for your child to live independent lives full of rich, meaningful relationships ... relationships where they have the opportunity to experience the wonderful feeling of being loved, accepted, and understood ... relationships where, in turn, they can connect with others and the world around them. But the question is ... how can you help your child get there? ... how do you help them step out of their world so they want to enter the world of relationships?

In The Son-Rise Program our intention is to create a deep connection and rapport with our child to help them develop their own motivation so they want to enter our world of relationships. When they have this desire they will want to form countless relationships. These relationships will help them connect to the world around them and live the independent life we so want for them.

The best way we can help our children create this desire to connect with us in our world, is to first connect with them in theirs. In The Son-Rise Program we first focus on joining children in their world by joining them in the activities they love. When your child is exclusive and repetitious (“stimming” or what we call “isming”) “join” them by doing exactly as they do.

Let me share a story … last week, I was working with a beautiful little boy who on average interacted and connected with others for about two minutes out of every hour -- the other 58 minutes of the hour he was in his own world “isming” away peacefully. When I walked into the playroom I knew connecting with others and interacting was a challenge for him, so my intention was to purely get to know him in his world first. I wanted to send him the message “I get you, and I want to be your friend.” I joined him in his “ism” for almost two hours … he would take his colorful orange scarf and shake it in front of his face. I, in turn, would do the same with my own scarf in front of my face. When he would excitedly say “Eeeee!” , I would say the same, and together the two of us delighted in the sounds and sights of this incredible “ism”. I was not waiting for a game to begin, nor a moment to ask him to say a word or phrase, I was simply getting to know him and sending him the message “I want nothing more than to get to know you right now.” So for those two hours we “ismed” and “ismed”, and “ismed” … and then something very special happened… The scarf he had been shaking became still, he looked up and met my eyes with a huge grin, and came over to wrap his arms around my neck for the sweetest hug ever! He didn’t say the words “Thank you”, but I like to believe that this was his way of saying it. I felt so very connected with him. From that moment forward to the end of our time together, over 45 minutes, we played and played and played -- games of bounces, tickles, and puppets. He choose to connect with me in my world.

Let’s take a look at a few reasons why this worked the way that it did and why we join our children when they “ism” · We are sending our child the message I love you and I want to get to know you. Since social relationships are one of our children’s greatest challenges, by joining them in their world we are saying … “I want to get to know you and connect with you in the easiest way possible for you -- in your world first.”
· By joining our child in their “ism” we get to know our child much much better… we find out what their motivation is, so we can offer them fun games and activities based on the things we have discovered they love.
· When our child is “isming” we “join” them until they give us an indication they are ready to connect (a social cue such as a look, a verbalization, or physical contact). We do not interrupt their “ism” nor do we try to “make” them interact with us. By not interrupting our child’s “ism” and waiting for them to indicate they are ready to connect, we are helping them build a muscle within themselves …a socialization muscle. Each time they are joined they get the opportunity to practice spontaneously wanting to connect (again, remember we are not interrupting or forcing our child to interact with us in any way). This strengthens their spontaneous socialization muscle. The more we join, the more we help them get stronger in this area!

Wow! When you use The Son-Rise Program technique of “joining” you are your child’s very own personal trainer for socialization.

These are just a few insights into The Son-Rise Program principle of “joining”. For more useful information about this principle and other Son-Rise Program techniques, please visit our website at www.AutismTreatmentCenter.org Above all, have the best time with your beautiful and amazing children! 

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Maintaining Your Attitude with Button-Pushing

and Not "Lighting Up Like a Christmas Tree"


William Hogan,
Executive Director of Programs of the
Autism Treatment Center of America®

For those of you who have attended The Son-Rise Program® Start-Up you will remember the phrase "lighting up like a Christmas Tree". This image was used to explain what we tend to do when our children do things we do not want them to do (i.e. knocking things onto the floor, turning the lights on and off, pushing over the trash bin, etc.). We talked about how this makes these behaviors and actions more interesting for our children to do and that when we 'light up' we are actually encouraging the very behaviors we say we don’t want. During the recent holiday season your child was probably home from school and/or your child had less playroom time if your volunteers went home for the holidays. During this time you may have been more challenged with maintaining your attitude when your child was doing things you did not want them to do.

Here are a couple of pointers to help you maintain your attitude, during those challenging moments as you begin 2015 (and also ensuring that the only Christmas Tree lighting up will be next December!!)

1.   Remember You are doing the best you can!
No matter how you respond to what your child does always remember you are doing the best you can. Be easy on yourself ... it will be more helpful to you and your child if you are non-judgmental and accepting of yourself. Be nice to you.
2.   What might be fun for you may be overwhelming and distressing for your child.
Make smart choices. If a party at friend’s or relative’s house or going on trips to the store etc. will overwhelm your child, consider having someone look after your child or don’t go and have a fun time at home. Taking your child to over stimulating places could result in them being more stressed when home, and hence more button pushing.

3. Hours in the Playroom.
Do your best to spend some time each day in the playroom. Playroom Son-Rise Program time will truly make the difference in helping your child develop the social skills and understanding to not button push.

4. Use the services of babysitter or someone who can be responsible to look after your child
You don’t always need a skilled / trained facilitator with your child. A person who can make sure your child is safely looked after can be very helpful and useful during busy times.

5. Make the house user-friendly.
Look around your house and see what adjustments and changes you can make so that your child has less opportunity to button push or do something you do not want them to do. (i.e. limit access to parts of the house you do not want your child to be in, locks the doors to keep your child from entering certain rooms, put away objects you do not want your child to touch, etc.)

6. When your child does something you do not want them to do or they start ‘button pushing’ for attention use the below basic guideline to help you: If it’s a dangerous / harmful situation … do what you need to do to take care of the situation, even if it means ‘Lighting Up Like a Xmas Tree”. Then take the necessary actions to ensure that this situation does not occur again.

If it is a non-dangerous / harmful situation then do the following …

· Attitude: Remember getting frustrated, annoy, etc will result in you lighting up like a Xmas Tree, and ultimately encourage your child to do that unwanted behavior again!!! Do your best to stay relaxed and calm as you take action.
· Wait 30 Seconds before acting: Since it is not a dangerous / harmful situation, pause for 30 seconds, before taking action. This pause avoids giving your child an immediate response to what they have just done. Then move slowly to take care of what has happened. Don’t make eye contact with your child or talk with them … making eye contact and talking to them could be the very thing your child is seeking!
· Offer an Alternative: i.e. If your child likes to knock over the trash bin – make the trash bin inaccessible and offer them something they can knock over like a cushion or empty cardboard box , etc.
· Change the environment: So the situation is no longer available / accessible.
· Be consistent: Let everyone who comes into contact with your child on a daily basis know what they can do to ensure not responding in a way that could encourage your child to do that unwanted behavior again.
· Celebrate your child: Each time they behave the way you want them to.

Do take time to pause and celebrate the changes in your child, no matter how big or small. Remember you have made these changes possible.

We hope you have a wonderful 2015 and that you continue to grow yourselves to be more relaxed, fun and a more passionate. Be an active advocate for yourself and your child. 

Monday, December 1, 2014

Helpful Holiday Hints

By Raun K. Kaufman, Author AUTISM BREAKTHROUGH and Director of Global Education

Often, we just barrel through the holidays, hoping for the best - but dreading the worst. But, I promise, it is possible to make your holiday experience fun, relaxed, and special for your special child(and for you). I know all the amazingness that your child is capable of. In addition to being the Director of Global Education for the Autism Treatment Center of America® and having worked with families and their children on the autism spectrum for the past 15 years, I had my own personal autism adventure.

At a young age, I was diagnosed with severe autism, with no language, eye contact, or communication of any kind. Completely encapsulated in my own world, I would rock back and forth and flap my hands for hours on end. My parents were told that I was destined to spend my life in an institution. Refusing to give up on me, my parents created The Son-Rise Program® in an effort to reach me. Rather than forcing me to conform to a world that I didn't understand, they began by joining me in my world first.

It worked. After three and a half years, I recovered completely with no trace of my former condition, graduating from the Ivy League's Brown University. And the method that helped me went on to help thousands of families from over 100 different countries.

I wrote my new book Autism Breakthrough (St. Martin's Press) to give parents like you a step-by-step guide to implement the techniques that helped me and so many other magnificent children and adults. I am including some concepts from my book in the Helpful Holiday Hints below. I hope that they are, indeed, helpful to you!

1) Let your child cope.

Most of our children perform various repetitive “stimming” behaviors. An increasing body of research is showing that these behaviors are useful and important to your child and his/her nervous system. So, when your child starts hand-flapping, asking the same question over and over, or lining up toy cars, allow your child to do this. In fact, it can be even more helpful if you join your child in these behaviors! That's right, join your child in the very behaviors that everyone else is trying to stop them from doing! Flap your own hands, or line up your own toys! This promotes, for your child, more calmness and more interaction!

2) Celebrate your child!

Most of us dread our child behaving in a challenging way. We worry about it, we look for it, and we try to stop it as soon as it happens. Ironically, this puts all the focus on what we don't want from our children. If you don’t want your child to hit, for instance, focusing on getting your child not to hit actually creates more hitting. Instead celebrate your child every time they do something well. If your child sometimes hits, cheer wildly every time your child is gentle!

3) Explain in advance.

Sometimes, we can be so busy planning and getting ready for a holiday outing or project that we forget to notify a crucial participant: our special child! Before going on a trip or having a celebration: Explain to your child ahead of time (even if your child is pre-verbal) what will happen and why it will be fun for him/her.

4) Give your family the heads-up.

Many of us, at times, feel frustrated with members of our extended family for not being more understanding and responsive when it comes to our child on the spectrum. But, remember, if your extended family members don't live with your child, they won't "get it." If you are visiting family with your child, send them an e-mail to explain what they can do to make the visit comfortable for you and your child. Explain why sudden loud noises might be problematic, or tell everyone the answer your child likes to hear when he or she asks over and over, “How fast does your car go?”

5) Designate a mellow room.

It's very common to go to someone else's house for a holiday celebration. Usually, we just take our child and hope for the best, thinking that we don't have a lot of control over the matter. But we do! If you are going to someone else’s house with your child, designate, in advance, a calm room or space where your child can go to decompress once they begin to be overwhelmed by all of the commotion and sensory input that comprise most celebrations. Every so often, take your child to this room and spend some time alone with him/her.

6) Mimic an outing without leaving your home!

Children on the autism spectrum will always do better when they are not over-stimulated by the many sights, sounds, smells, and unpredictable events of the outside world. You can create an experience in your home that you normally would go out for. For instance, instead of going to an evening parade with a festival of lights, you can put Christmas lights all around your house, turn off all the lights, and play Christmas music at a gentle volume. You may be concerned about depriving your child of a fun holiday experience, but keep in mind that when your child can’t digest the experience, they’re not having the fun experience you want, anyway. That’s why, if you can create a digestible version of the experience at home, your child can take in and enjoy the experience. By doing this, you are actually giving your child more, not less!

7) Avoid food fiascos.

Yes, it's the holidays. Sugary, wheat-filled, dairy-crazy foods abound. It can be tempting to allow our children to partake in this glorious cornucopia.  Don't give in to this mighty temptation! The meltdowns, overeating, challenging behavior, and diarrhea that will result will not be worth it, I assure you! Taking the forethought to either keep these foods away, or, better yet, not have them around at all will make your whole holiday experience a hundred thousand times easier.

8) Take the holiday spirit home.


So often, we get caught up in the trappings of the holidays – the tree, the presents, the outings that have to go exactly as planned. It’s okay to arrange fun things, but remember that these are only trimmings. They aren’t the gift, they’re just the wrapping. The gift is your special child. The gift is sharing hope and sweetness with the people you love. Instead of using the holidays as a planning fest, use it to see the beauty in your child’s uniqueness. Use it to celebrate what your child can do, and use it to feel and encourage compassion for your child’s very different way of experiencing the world.

Monday, November 3, 2014

EXCITING ANNOUNCEMENT Autistic Logistics is Coming!

Reprinted by permission of Jessica Kingsley Publishers, 2015, Autistic Logistics, Kate Wilde, ISBN 978-1-84905-779-0, www.jkp.com.


Kate Wilde, Director, The Son-Rise Program

My book Autistic Logistics will be published by Jessica Kinsley Publishers on December 21,  2014 in the United Kingdom, and January 21,  2015 in the United States. 

Autistic Logistics is for you and ALL parents who have children on the autism spectrum … helping with the everyday challenges of parenting outside of therapy time or school time. The book is based on The Son-Rise Program® principles and techniques, however,  it can be used by ANY parent, caregiver, therapist, teacher or family member who loves a child with autism. Autistic Logistics will be very helpful if the primary therapy for your child is ABA, Floortime, RDI, Verbal Behavior, Handel, Intensive Play therapy or any other. It’s truly for everyone who wants help with the following:

·        Sleeping Challenges
·        Hitting
·        Tantrums
·        Toilet Training
·        Introducing new foods
·        Tooth Brushing
·        Hair Cutting
·        Dressing
·        Boundary Setting

Most of these challenges take place outside of therapy or school time but happen every day, every week, and every month. Autistic Logistics is designed to help with “everyday” challenges.

Autistic Logistics is extremely practical, full of concrete step-by-step strategies that you can implement immediately with your child. It also has exercises that you can do to help you understand your child and yourself on a deeper level and put the strategies into practice with comfort and ease.

Enjoy this sneak preview of Chapter 4 of Autistic Logistics  … Reprinted by permission of Jessica Kingsley Publishers, 2015, Autistic Logistics, Kate Wilde, ISBN 978-1-84905-779-0, www.jkp.com.

Chapter 4 – Motivation: The Key to Everything.

Motivation is everything. We work harder, learn quicker and engage more when we are really interested and enjoying what we are doing. Raun K. Kaufman in his book, “Autism Breakthrough: The Groundbreaking Method that has Helped Families All Over the World.” says:
“Motivation is the engine of growth. It is the single largest factor in your child’s learning and progress. When a child is following his or her own intrinsic interests and motivations, learning comes fast and furious.”

I worked with Gabriella a beautiful young girl of 7. Gabriella loved food, wanted to eat and look at pictures of food all day long. At that time food was her one and only motivation. Because Gabriella focused nearly all of her attention around food her parents were trying to move her away from food and get her into doing something else. They wanted her to read, learn math, and experience more of what “the world had to offer”.  They did this by introducing subjects and things that had nothing to do with food. This was not working. She showed no interest in what they were offering her. This was because they were completely ignoring what it is that she enjoyed - food.

The idea is to use your child motivations, by marrying the goal or skill you want your child to learn with what it is they enjoy. We did that with Gabriella. So instead of trying to get her away from the subject of food we embraced it and made it the central focus of everything we offered her. Over the next two years she learned to speak through naming all the different foods. She learned math by cooking her favorite foods and measuring out the ingredients. She learned to be flexible and spontaneous by making up her own recipes. She learned about the different cultures of the world through studying their different foods. She even learned French and Italian!

It is important to note that this is not about giving rewards for a job well done. It is about putting what they enjoy at the center of the activity or learning.
This is going to be so important as you go about encouraging your child to do all the skills outlined in this book.

Carl was 10 years old and he loved staccato rhythms.  He would tap out rhythms using his fingers on the floor the walls and the backs of books. His preferred state of being was to lie on a beanbag and tap out rhythms. One goal we worked on with him was to encourage him to be more active. So I brought in a skipping rope. Instead of introducing it to him in a traditional way I showed him how he could use the skipping robe in a way that I knew would interest him first. I took the handles of the skipping rope and tapped out a rhythm. I then gave it to him and he taped out a rhythm. Then I swung the skipping robe in a way that the rope made a rhythm on the floor. This helped him become interested and interact with the skipping rope. We had a lot of fun and by the end of the session he had attempted to skip. Hooray for Carl! Putting what he was motivated for, tapping at the center of the activity helped him reach the goal of being more active.

FIND OUT WHAT MOTIVATES YOUR CHILD

We can find out what really motivates our children by observing where they put their attention. Then we can marry their motivation with the goal we have for our child. This book is about how to help our children with their self help skills such as taking a bath, sitting on the toilet, eating new foods and much more. These endeavors will be so much more successful if we do them in a way that interests our children. For some of you it will be immediately obvious to you what motivates your child, for others it may not be so apparent. The exercise below is designed to help you find out what motivates your child.

Exercise 1
Spend 15 minutes a day for five days just observing your child as they play by themselves. Notice not just what they are playing with but how they are playing with it.  What senses are they predominately using? As you observe them notice what they are doing, if they are tapping things with their fingers then that is their motivation. It does not have to be playing with something in the traditional sense. Our children play and explore differently. The following list will help you observe in a particular way. Just tick the boxes that are relevant to your child.
He touches or taps things in a rhythmic way.
□ The rhythm is fast
□ The rhythm is slow
□ The rhythm is staccato
□ The rhythm is syncopated
Write your child’s favorite rhythm in the space provided below.



He is visually stimulated.
□ He looks at things out of the corner of his eye
□ He lines things up in neat rows
□ He likes to arrange things in scenes
□ He likes to arrange thing in piles
□ He stares at the wall, or ceiling, or at the woodwork, or light switches
□ He stares intently at his own fingers as he slowly wiggles them
□ He looks at patterns while running his fingers over the pattern
□ He will watch the credits role down the TV again and again
□ He will draw
□ He likes to watch the chalk dust fall
□ He watches things that move like fans or any electrical equipment
□ He stares at light on floorboards
□ He watches little things falling through the air like rice
□ He watches a scarves fall through the air
□ He closely watches the wheels of a car spin
□ He watches a piece of string dangle
□ He waves a belt along the floor watching it move like a snake
Write what and how your child watches things in the space provided below.



She likes to engage in physical activities.
□  She runs from one side of the room to another banging her hands into the walls
□ She paces using large steps starting slowly and gathering speed, then slowing down and again gathering speed
□ She flaps her hand, stimulating mainly his wrists
□ She flaps her fingers only
□ She shakes her head from side to side
□ She pushing her tongue against the side of his cheeks
□ She chews on any object she has
□ She slaps the side of her head, legs, or claps her hands.
□ She jumps
□ She is constantly in perpetual motion
□ She holds an object most of the time
Write your child’s particular physical activity in the space provided below.


He likes to listen to sounds.
□ He puts a car up close to his ear and listens to the whirl of the car wheels
□ He makes sounds to himself as he jumps, spins, or watches things fall
□ He listens to the clank of a belt buckle falling to the ground as he watches it fall
□ He bangs doors, listening to the click of the door handle opening or closing
□ He says the same phrase or word over and over again, with a particular inflection or rhythm
□ He shakes bells
Add the specific sound your child likes to hear in the space below.


She likes patterns.
□ She likes to do puzzles
□ She likes numbers
□ She likes to spell words
□ She likes to solve math problems
In the space below write your child own specific interest in patterns.



He likes to engage with textures and touch.
□ He loves soft things
□ He loves hard and bumpy textures
□ He loves furry things
□ He likes sand paper
□ He will wrap himself up in a blanket
□ He loves silky cloths
□ He will roll cars up and down his arms
□ He likes soft touch
□ He likes hard pressure like squeezes
□ He loves ribbon
□ He loves the feel of hair
In the space below write any other texture or touch your child likes.


What kind of spaces does she like?
□ She likes the doors and windows to be open
□ She will always close the door
□ She will surround herself with cushions
□ She will play underneath the table, or in a small play tent or lay house
□ She will play surrounded by a fortress of books or stuffed animals
□ She likes to play in a dark space
□ She likes to play in a light space
In the space provided below write down any other kind of space your child enjoys.


What type of characters does he like?
□ Plastic Disney characters?
□ Soft plush Disney characters?
□ Movie characters?
□ Characters from a storybook?
Write your child favorite characters in the space provided below.


What music or song does your child like?
Write them down in the space provided below.


Does your child show you a color preference?
If so write in the space provided below.





Exercise 2
This time notice how your child responds to what YOU do. As you read below see if your child likes you to do any of these actions. If you’re not sure then find out by trying the action with your child.  If they do, then that’s their motivation.
□ Speaking in funny voices, like Mickey Mouse and Donald Duck
□ Using slapstick humor like pretending to fall on a banana peel
□ Big gestures, and big facial expressions
□ Big celebrations
□ Singing to them
□ Playing musical instrument
□ Dancing in big and funny ways
□ Whispering
□ Using anticipation
□ Talking softly
□ Clapping hands
□ Pretending to be an animal
□ Reading books out loud
□ Tickling him
□ Big squeezes
□ Blowing on his body

Add any other things that you do that motivate your child in the space below.



Now you have just created a list of your child’s own unique motivations. As you read the upcoming chapters use these specific motivations to encourage your child to want to do the goals in this book, by putting your child’s motivation at the center of the activity. For example:

Marcus’s story:  goal = eat new foods, motivation = Spiderman.
Marcus was 5 and completely in love with Spiderman. I think the only clothes he ever wore while I knew him was a Spider Man Costume – so cute! While he loved spider man he seemed not to be so interested in eating. He was underweight and his parents understandably were very concerned about his health. So we took his motivation for Spider man and married it with our goal of wanting him to eat. We started by making up stories about what Spiderman loved to eat after he has done his days work of being a super hero. He was amazing at drawing so we drew cartoons together about spider man and every place we could we would draw spider man eating, or stopping off at the shops to get his favorite foods. These were of course all the different foods that we wanted Marcus to eat. We would then bring in what we started to call “Spiderman Meals”. We introduced the food on Spiderman party plates and while we were playing we would stop for a Spiderman munch.  Within a couple of weeks he had started to put on weight. This was because we made eating the most interesting we could for him by putting what he enjoyed most “Spiderman” at the center of the activity.
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