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Sunday, September 23, 2012

Helping Janey choose

When Janey is given a choice of two options, she almost always picks the second one mentioned.  For example, if you ask her "Do you want McDonalds or Burger King?", she'll say "Burger King", but if you switch the order around, she'll say McDonalds.  I am always looking for ways to help her choose what she really wants.  The method I've found that is easiest to use and seems to work well is the hand choosing method.  It works like this---I'll show Janey my two hands, made into fists, and assign each of them one of the choices.  I'll wave the first hand and say the first choice "McDonalds?" and wave the second hand and say the second choice "Burger King?"  Janey will then point to the hand she wants.  Sometimes she'll say the word too.  And in that situation, she doesn't just pick the second option, for some reason.  It seems like having something physical to touch leads to her making a real choice.

When I was thinking about this, I realized that it's often the case that giving Janey a physical cue works to help her understand.  Sometimes when we get home and it's time to get out of the car, Janey will just sit there.  I'm sure she knows it's time to go in the house, but it seems hard for her to get started.  I can say over and over "time to get out!  Let's go!  Time to go in the house!" and although she understands me, she ignores me.  But if I put out my hand to help her get out, she'll hop right out.  She doesn't need the physical help, she doesn't even hold onto my hand when getting out.  She just needs the physical gesture.  I've noticed I do this a lot without thinking about it.  When I want her to sit, I make a sitting motion.  When I want her attention, I tap her.  When she is not eating, I'll give her the first bite, or put the spoon to her mouth.

I don't really understand why physical prompts or objects help as they do.  I suspect it has something to do with the unique wiring of Janey's brain.  Maybe adding a second pathway to the area that needs to be activated helps.  Maybe showing the two hands emphasizes that there's a choice between two things, in a way words can't.  There is so much I don't get about how Janey thinks.  But if something works, I'll use it, whether I get it or not.

2 comments:

Jess said...

My step-daughter does the same thing with choices. Her "choice" is always the last item mentioned even if there are only two choices. Typically it drives me nuts because then I wonder why I give her a "choice" in the first place. Now that she is getting a little older, she SOMETIMES seems to make a true choice. I may try your hand trick and see if that changes anything for her.

Cartes a un Anònim said...

Dear Elizabeth,

My name is Marta and I'm 17. I'm in my last year of secondary school in a school in Spain. As a part of our course we have to do a research project, and I picked the subject of Autism. I would like to explain different people's stories about their children lives, what changed in since their child was diagnosed, the government help they get, etc. I would like to compare the economical help that is received from the government in different countries too. I would like to know if you would like to tell me your story. My email is martaa.p13@gmail.com . It would be very helpful for me and I would really appreciate.

Thanks in advanced,

Marta