I've been reading The RDI Book by Dr Stephen Gutstein, which, by the way, I think all parents of ASD children should read, but probably not all at once. Nibbles a couple of times a week would be fine. It's pretty full-on.
My nibble last week was about 'building collaboration'. Gutstein defines collaborations as 'interactions in which the guide and apprentice strive to coordinate their actions, thoughts and ideas towards some common goal'.
He argues that many ASD kids don't have the neural capabilities for even the simplest integrations, so you have to start small.
I decided to try this out very simply.
Every morning I walk my son to school. It takes all of two minutes - it's out our front door, up our driveway, across the road and ten steps to the school gate.
I decided I would see how he went at a very simple physical collaboration. Could he walk in sync with me up the driveway and stay connected as we crossed the road?
The answer was 'no'. He's not capable (or interested) in walking in step. Marching would be a disaster for him! He didn't want to zig zag up the drive with me. He did stay connected as we crossed the street though. And he did stop with me, wait and coordinate as we did a single jump up onto the kerb.
I was a bit disappointed. And then I thought maybe it was all kids. So I tried it out with his little brother this morning. At first he was a bit like 'what is she doing?' but then he quickly fell into step with me and coordinated his actions in zigzag and started to laugh as we clearly were 'doing it together'.
So my next little project with Bright Eyes is to build up physical collaboration simply by walking up the driveway together every morning. One way to really get him to think about coordinating with me will be to tie his leg to mine and do a 'three legged race' style journey. I wonder if we'll both fall over?