Spectrummy Mummy

Asperger's, Allergies, and Adventures Abroad

Posts Tagged ‘theory of mind

Rewarding

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 Spectrummy Mummy

I remember my parents being much more successful with the whole not-laughing-when-the-child-is-naughty thing. Oh well, practice makes perfect!

 

 The above was my Facebook status update on Saturday.  Pudding got sneaky again.  Remember this incident  where Pudding rewarded herself for using the bathroom?  It seems she felt inspired to do it again.
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A couple of days ago I noticed that Cubby’s treats were not in the usual place.  I found them, and stashed them up high in a different cupboard, and followed up by locking the bathroom door.  I’m sure at the time I chuckled to myself about how I can outsmart my five-year-old.  Then I thought no more about it.
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Recently we moved Pudding to her own bedroom.  We’d hoped that sharing a room with her brother would help her sleep.  We were wrong, so after my parents left we changed the spare room into Pudding’s room.  Pudding loves this new room.  The best thing about the room, is that one wall is entirely mirrors.  She can bounce on the bed while watching her reflection- Pudding heaven.  It was also by these mirrors that I was alerted to Pudding’s latest tinkering.
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While Spectrummy Daddy was putting her brother down for a nap, we played in her room.  She announced she needed to use the bathroom, and did so leaving the door open.  With the angle of the mirrors, I couldn’t see her on the toilet, but had an excellent view of her afterwards.  I watched her wash and dry her hands (unprompted).  Then I saw her go into the cupboard below the basin and put something she found there in her mouth.
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It doesn’t take somebody as smart as Pudding to work out that these were the very treats I’d hidden in her brother’s bathroom.  To get to them, she had to find and use the correct skeleton key to get through the door.  Then she would have pulled a chair from my bedroom, down the hall, through Cubby’s room and into the bathroom, before getting up into the cupboard for the treats.
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All this is very impressive in a child with significant fine motor delays and motor-planning difficulties.  But more impressive to me was the fact that she returned the chair to my room, and stashed the treats where she thought I wouldn’t see them.  Aren’t those some excellent theory of mind skills right there?  I’d have been tempted to reward her, had she not in fact just rewarded herself!
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Really, all I could do was to laugh.  It was impossible to discipline her.  When Spectrummy Daddy came out of Cubby’s room, I hoped I might call on him to have a stern word.  Of course, he burst out laughing even harder than I did.
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In the end, neither of us could quite bring ourselves to tell her off, but I thought I might at least remove the treats- they were supposed to be Cubby’s, after all.  As he was asleep, I didn’t return them to his room, but hid them in my own bedroom.  Later I returned to find nothing but an empty packet.
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I know, I know.  I’m going to have to find some way to check her before she moves on to world domination.  Right now, though, life is far too rewarding to change anything.
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Written by Spectrummy Mummy

February 27, 2012 at 4:35 pm

Liar liar, pants on fire!

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It was bedtime last night.  Just after we read a story, I dimmed the light. Pudding climbed into my lap and snuggled in close. Lately we’ve been discussing the day as we gently sway together in the rocking chair. But last night we didn’t speak. I took in the warmth of her body, the feel of her soft hair on my cheek, and the gentle sound of our breathing. One of those moments to freeze in time. We sat there for a minute. She is seldom quiet for this long, I wondered what deep thoughts were going through her mind.

Then she farted.

A loud one.  A great big whoopee cushion that I felt as well as heard.

We both giggled.

Me: What was that?

Pudding: Cubby.

Me: Cubby? No, I think I heard something, what was it?

Pudding: A trump. Cubby did a trump!

Me: Oh really, is that so?!

Pudding: Yes. He’s a stinky boy!

And there goes another autism myth: kids on the spectrum most definitely can lie. The one fringe benefit I was hoping for, my girl always telling me the truth- every parent’s dream come true. But one little lie, another step in progress. Further evidence of a theory of mind.  I cannot tell a lie, I was thrilled!

……..

I was about to hit publish on this post, when I noticed the kids were quiet (always a bad sign).  I went to the kitchen to find a chunk missing from my french toast that was cooling on the side.  Though the kids had already breakfasted on soy yogurt and buckwheat waffles, it appears somebody was hungry.  Wheat, egg, milk: the triple whammy of Pudding’s allergies.  Sigh.

Me: Did you eat that?

Pudding: No.  (as she spoke I saw the food inside her mouth).

And here is my payback for rewarding lies with laughter last night.  You can’t win ’em all!  We’ll wait and see what adverse reaction she has to eating my food.  It was only a morsel.  Perhaps the worst that will happen will be a little flatulence.

I wonder who she’ll blame it on this time?

Written by Spectrummy Mummy

January 27, 2011 at 10:02 pm

Why?

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Pudding doesn’t ask ‘why?’ yet.  Nor does she appropriately answer when asked why.  For instance an exchange could be:

Pudding: I want a paintbrush.

Me: Why do you want a paintbrush?

Pudding: Yes, give me a paintbrush.

Me: Because you want to….

Pudding: Yes.  May I have paintbrush, please?

She is nothing if not polite, but no real answers here.  So many frustrations could be eased if we could just nail this concept.  She knows that she wants to paint, she knows that she needs a paintbrush to do so.  It is all almost there, just one tiny piece left out.  Another reason, I guess, why the symbol for autism is a puzzle piece.

The “wh” questions are generally difficult for kids with autism spectrum disorders.  Pronouns too, which I understand, because they are slippery little suckers that change around all the time depending on who is speaking.  Does ‘I’ mean me or you?  She gets around it by always using names, which is a smart solution for that issue, but won’t help with “wh” questions.  She actually uses “who?”, “what?”, and “where?” all the time, but “when?” and “why?” are just proving more problematic.  I think “when?” is because she has a murky concept of time.  When she doesn’t want to do something, she’ll frequently tell us she wants to do it “later, on Monday”, even if it is a Monday, for example.  We have included “wh” questions on her IEP, but “why?” doesn’t get included as many typically developing children don’t use it at this stage either, she is not considered delayed.

When we reach this point of being able to reason with her, so she can tell us why she needs something so badly, and I can explain why she can’t have something, it will make life so much easier.  We’ll be able to figure each other out, the start of understanding somebody else’s perspective, the seeds that one day might sprout into a Theory of Mind (which is a whole other post, trust me.  Or just google it if you’re curious).

Of course, “why?” will come one day.  When it does I’ll have to be ready with the answers.  I can do “why can’t I have a cookie?” and even try my hand at “why is the sky blue?”.  Sooner or later though, we’ll get the really tough ones: “why am I different?”, “why do I have Asperger’s?”, “why won’t they play with me?”.  I’m not even close to being able to answer, or at least give a satisfactory answer.  In the case of the last one, I’m not even ready to hear that being asked, but I know one day it will.

The other day I found this site which provides free resources for teaching these tricky concepts, and I made a book of why.  With lots of repetition, we’ll get there.  In a year she has come such a long way, I have no doubt we can do this too.

I may not have all the answers worked out, but I do have a response for when she asks me a “why” I can’t answer: go ask daddy.  Sometimes parenting and spectrummy parenting are the exact same thing, don’t ask me why!

Written by Spectrummy Mummy

August 12, 2010 at 6:55 am