Saturday, April 26, 2008

I'll Be Back

As an update, I've been in Florida for about 8 days. We will be heading home tomorrow. I hope to get back to my little series of posts on RDI and give some fun info from our trip soon. Just before we left we got our new objective to work on as well and I'll give the heads up for that too.

This is just to let you all know I'm still here. Hope everyone is still doing great!!

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Reflections on GPR, Resilience and Narration (Part 1)

Huh, what?! I know, I know, yet somehow they all go together. I'll get to it, I promise. Light bulbs have been going off for me with all of this stuff lately. My only problem will be in MY narrating it coherently. ;D My brain is a bit ADD and tends to jump around faster than I can catch all the thoughts. I'm going to go in order of what's listed in the subject and maybe I can keep it straight. All of what will be written here is as much for MY benefit as anyone reading this blog. I need to 'narrate' review what I'm learning to help me remember it all better. Thanks for 'listening'. ;D

1. In RDI, we learn A LOT about GPR (the Guided Participation Relationship formerly referred to as Master/Apprentice Relationship). So what is the GPR? I'm glad you asked? he he I like to take things down to the most simplistic form. So, to me, GPR is just thought of as 2-way communication. Sometimes that means it's verbal, and sometimes it comes thru facial expressions, gestures and sound effects. This is the normal way we all develop. As babies we come out programmed to pay attention to those around us, to feed off the information given us by their words, voice, face etc. It's how we learn about the world. As we get older, we continue to learn 'thru other people'. We read body language. For instance, you can probably tell when what you're saying is confusing somebody by looking at them. So you may slow down, start over etc.

This is important stuff because most autistic kids are not learning this way. They learn thru movies and books, maybe some rote tasks taught. They are not learning thru people. Not in a Guided Participation Relationship. Why does it matter?? Because, people are dynamic, ever changing. Books, movies, tasks are not, they are static or the same all the time. The GPR is foundational to our normal neurological development. Without it, strange stuff starts to happen. We, as the guides, lose touch with our child. We're not getting the feedback we need to understand where they are at, what they are thinking and where their 'edge of competency' is.

The edge of competency is simply referring to that point you know you can push somebody to before chaos erupts. With babies we keep encouraging them to take one or two more steps by gauging how they did on their last walking experience and lengthening it a bit each time. When adults are talking and one is giving directions, he's watching for the edge of competency of who he's explaining to. When the glazed look comes into their eye, you know to back up and give support (or scaffold) at the point they got lost. All of this can also be referred to as the 'zone of proximal development'--working within someone's edge of competency.

Example: Dancing. Think about how much non-verbal communication goes into 2 people learning to dance a routine. How close, far apart to place the body, foot, hands etc. Timing involved in staying with the music, your partner and the steps of the dance. GPR is all the stuff it takes for these two people to produce a finished product. If your partner is autistic, what generally happens (at least with my Pooh) is yelling (this is too hard!!), stomping (my poor foot!) and leaving (avoidance of a challenge).

Which leads us to Resilience....

(This post is getting entirely too long so I'm going to write this as a little series. Stay tuned for part 2.)

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Green Reading

I found this link thru another blogger (thanks Barb!) and LOVE it!!! After our vacation this month, I'm going to see how many of these I can find thru our library system. I think that many of them would be great for inspiring some Nature observations or at least to encourage the idea.

Hope you find the list useful as well.

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Put On a Happy Face

I found these lyrics to this older song from the musical Bye Bye Birdie. Seemed fitting for our new habit of cheerfulness.

Gray skies are gonna clear up
Put on a happy face
Brush off the clouds and cheer up
Put on a happy face
Take off the gloomy mask of tragedy
it's not your style
You'll look so good that you'll be glad
Ya decide to smile
And spread sunshine all over the place
Just put on a happy face
Put on a happy face
Put on a happy face
And if you're feeling cross and bitterish
Don't sit and whine
Think of banana split and licorice
And you'll feel fine
I knew a girl so glooming
She'd never laugh or sing
She wouldn't listen to me
Now she's a mean old thing
So spread sunshine all over the place
Just put on a happy face
So put on a happy face

Fairy Tale Decisions

I did a little looking around about Hans Christian Anderson and some of his fairy tales. The reason that I have trouble finding the 'moral of the story' is because, a lot of the time, there just isn't one. Evidently, he was a pretty cynical guy, disillusioned with the world and just presented stories in the way he saw life. Which would be why some of the stories are not really my cup of tea.

However, he wrote some famous tales such as The Ugly Duckling, The Emperor's New Clothes and The Steadfast Tin Soldier which I would really like to hear. Also, as I mentioned in the previous post on fairy tales, I don't mind bad things happening (murder and mayhem LOL) I was just under the impression that most fairy tales had some sort of moral. (silly me!)

My decision is to continue with what we're doing. We listen to each story. Then I turn off the cd and we discuss it, sort of a joint narration. If one of the stories is just too much (because Tigger is in the van after all) I can just skip it. I'm also going to eventually check out Andrew Lang's Fairy Tales from our library. I would like to see the difference in the presentation of the tales AND I read somewhere that his tales are from around the world which I really like. I really love checking out world folk tales too.

Hey, so far the Princess on the Pea and Thumbelina have had happy endings!! (not really a moral but at least there is some happiness between the grandmother killings he he)

Tuesday, April 8, 2008


I've decided that we could use some work on the habit of cheerfulness around here. I've noticed that Pooh's decidedly grumpy nature has somewhat rubbed off on Tigger. Simple requests are being met with much ill humour or downright backtalking. We have tried for a long time to figure out a way to talk with Pooh to lessen his negative reactions to things, but as of yet, we have no sure fire cure.

What I know I need to improve on is going thru a lot of self-talk for me personally, so that he can hear and apply it himself. One time when he was upset with his little brother in Walmart, I think he must have tried to get him in some way because I remember Tigger complaining about it. My response that time went over well and it's the kind of reaction I would like to do more of, be more aware of. "I know my sweet boy, Pooh would never do something like that. He loves his brother." I got a little smile back and all was peaceful. Most of the time however, we get "That's it!" "You're fired!" "I'm leaving this family!" etc.

So, on Monday I started talking about doing things with a smile. Tried "catching" a smile on Pooh's face when he was putting away books. He tried really hard not to smile on that one. It did change his mood after a couple of tries.

Here's an article I found interesting. After reading it, I was happy the first thing I thought to teach was a smile! :D

Here are some motivational quotes worth looking at.

Acts 17:22- "Be of good cheer"

Friday, April 4, 2008

Fairy Tales

A couple of months back I scored the complete set of unabridged audio cd’s of Hans Christian Anderson’s Fairy Tales at a used book store for $15!  I was sooo happy to have found it, as Year 1 of AO includes this (or a couple of other fairy tale authors) in its curriculum.  The only problem I saw was that along with the 11 cds there wasn’t a paper telling you the order of the stories or which one was on which cd.   So as we’re moseying along in our errands about town or taking Pooh to Art class, we listen to audio cds.  This week we did the first of the 11 Fairy Tale cds.


Frankly, some of the stories creep me out!!  I’ve never heard of some of them before and I have to wonder at the point of them.  For instance, The Tinderbox talks about a soldier (someone who should be honorable in my mind) accepting an offer, reneging on the offer by killing the witch and in the end gets to be king and marry the princess  because he had his magic dogs kill her parents.  Ugh!  His one redeeming quality that I brought out to the boys is that when he did have a lot of money he gave to the poor.    


Next was Big Klaus and Little Klaus.  Telling lies, killing horses AND grandmothers and all in the name of getting ‘bushels of money’.  What are the kids supposed to be gleaning from this exactly?!?


What I’ve tried to do is after each story, I stop the cd and we talk about it.  Who do you think was good, why, etc.  I was a little hard put to find a good thing to say about the Klaus boys.  


The other ones we listened to that weren’t too bad were The Princess on the Pea (which I always thought was the Princess and the Pea) and Thumbelina.  Pooh must have been thinking about the Thumbelina story because later that day, we were outside in the garden and he asked me if birds really died in the winter.  ;D  For those of you who don’t know, the story includes a sparrow found in one of the mole’s tunnels who hadn’t flown south in time and had dropped because of the cold and was in a sort of cold induced coma until Thumbelina warmed him and woke him up.  So I thought that at least it was cool that this story got Pooh thinking about the habits of birds.  LOL


It’s not that I don’t expect some rotten things to happen in fairy tales or am opposed to the death aspect.  I just hope for a little justice in the story and it would be nice if the villains got punished somehow.  I guess I’m looking for a moral to the story and I’m just not finding it in some of these fairy tales.  Maybe I’m expecting too much??  Analyzing it to death??  I don’t know.  I think I’m going to do some more investigating on the whole aspect of fairy tales and try to find out what exactly the deal is.  In the meantime, I’ll be changing out my cds to include cd number 2 and hope that the next ones are a little less creepy. 


Oh and by the way, the boys seem to really like the stories!  Sigh  Tigger was upset that Thumbelina was the last one.  I do notice that they also get confused as to who is the good guy and who’s the bad guy though.  When I asked if the soldier was a good man I got the “No, um yes, NO, yes? I don’t know.” From both of them.  He he   They were trying to answer by watching my facial expressions and gauging the meaning of my silence.



Thursday, April 3, 2008

It Worked!!!!

Now I can just send an email any time I like and it will go directly to my blog. How cool is that!!!! Learn something new everyday. ;D I won’t be posting much today I don’t think because we’ve been busy the last couple of days. Pooh had art yesterday which meant traveling to and from and we went out today as well. I will say that I printed off the Green Hour Challenge Number 1 and am determined to start doing these. At least the first one seems reasonable. I didn’t investigate the others yet. One bite at a time. I’m just hoping that it will get us started and will focus us more. I received my Handbook of Nature Study in the mail this week which prompted me to go back to Barb's Blog to get started on the challenges.

Hope everyone is having a great week!! (despite the weather)

Just Checking

I want to see if I can post directly to my blog without having to head to the website.


Here goes.