Sunday, 9 January 2011

Mushroom ketchup part deux

Let there be light!!  We went to the supermarket earlier for a new halogen light bulb but they had run out.  Side-Flanders to the rescue!!  We have two immediate neighbours affectionately known (in secret family-speak) as Side-Flanders and Back-Flanders.  No light bulb available but our kind neighbour lent me a proper workman’s lamp, which I suspended from the kitchen ceiling.

Today we used the mushroom ketchup that we prepared yesterday as the base for our pizzas.  Philip follows a gluten and casein free diet, so no cheese L, but the pizzas turned out looking yummy nonetheless.  Unexpectedly, he suggested we also put sliced tomatoes on the pizza… he must be coming out of his anti-tomato phase.  This is one of the great things about including your kids in cooking – they become motivated to make suggestions and try new things.

We are working on the same objective as yesterday – for Philip to remain in synchrony with me, by referencing me for information or approval.  He does this several times in the video clip.

If you think about what needs to be in place to have a truly reciprocal conversation and to work as part of a team, you can see why this sort of ‘checking in’ referencing is needed.  You need to be interested in what the other person is doing, motivated to work towards a common goal, and mindful of the actions of the other person, so that you can alter your own actions if it looks like the interaction/joint task is going off track.

Dr Steve Gutstein, who developed RDI, coined the term ‘dynamic intelligence’ to describe the type of thinking that ‘provides the tools to successfully solve complicated problems, prioritise multiple demands, carry on meaningful relationships and achieve long-term goals’ (The RDI Book, 2009).

We use dynamic thinking about 80% of the time – our world is dynamic, constantly changing.  A summary of the top 10 employability competencies showed what employers value most highly in their staff:

  1. Problem solving
  2. Flexibility
  3. Teamwork
  4. Relationship building
  5. Analysis and appraisal
  6. Perspective-taking
  7. Self awareness
  8. Ongoing growth and development
  9. Management of uncertainty
  10. Creativity and innovation.

All of these are dynamic thinking competencies and all of them are impaired in autism.

I want my son to be able to secure and hold down a meaningful job that he can enjoy.  He isn’t going to be able to do that if me and his Dad don’t help him to develop some of the above competencies….so you can see why I am working with him on some of the things that need to be in place in order to be a good team player.

I will just interrupt myself at this point to tell you that a great title for my blog has just popped into my head – ‘Food for Thought’.  I quite surprised myself there – I must be getting into the swing of this blogging malarkey.  I’m keeping not-Nigella and not-Jamie as well though as I’m very fond of them.

Now just to end the point I have been making about helping children with autism to develop dynamic intelligence, I’m going to quote from another great book, ‘Learning as we Grow’ (Beurkens, Roon & Kowalczyk, 2009). The chapter on ‘remediation and compensation’ says, ‘If a child is diagnosed with a reading disability, we typically apply remediation approaches to help them to read.  At various points, we may use compensations, such as books on tape, to support them.  However, our goal is to remediate or correct the problem that is preventing them from reading, so that they can become functional readers.  In my professional experience, I have yet to come across a situation where adults believe that for an 8 year old child who is not yet reading, we should just compensate for that and give them books on tape for the rest of their lives!  Remedial efforts are undertaken to get to the root of the problem and overcome the issues that are preventing successful reading.’

Compensations and accommodations have their place – they are vital supports whilst a pupil is working on developing flexibility.  However, we do children no favours if we are ‘working around’ their difficulties and applying strategies that make them fit more appropriately into the box of our educational system instead of working directly on the difficulties – which would lead to greater independence and autonomy.

Ah, education and school!  Now therein lies another story……..coming soon.

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