Blogging about life in Minnesota, raising our six kids with Down syndrome while battling Breast Cancer.

Be the kind of woman that when your feet hit the floor in the morning the devil says, "Oh shit! She's up!"

Thursday, November 07, 2013

How do I teach him to see people?

Ok all you experienced mommas of post institutional kids,  help me find a way to teach Abel to see people. In the institution, people (other children) were nothing but objects to be stepped over. It was survival of the fittest mentality, you get your way to the front to get fed first, touched first, etc. In a pack of dogs there is at least a hierarchy, and the dogs respect the space of the dogs over them.  The institution doesn't even have that. It's not uncommon to see kids playing with each others limbs as if they are an object not attached to a person. For Abel there is no concept that object has feelings, so drag that limb with you until it gets caught on something.

Here are some examples of what we see at home:

I tell Abel to go to the bathroom, not knowing one of the other boys is standing at the toilet peeing. Abel will go into the bathroom and just put himself in front of the toilet, effectively moving the other person out of the way, sometimes causing the other person to pee all over the floor. Abel is completely oblivious to the fact someone else was there peeing!

Going out the door. I make the announcement "Everyone go get in the van." Abel will knock people to the floor to get to the door. He's not really trying to get their first, he's just trying to get there and they happen to be in his way.

I tell Abel it's his turn on the swing. Asher is still working on getting off. Abel is like "That's ok, I'll just move this object (Asher!) so I can take my turn." He moves Asher no differently than if he were moving a stuffed animal out of the way. i.e. throwing it!

Abel plays catch with the other kids, but he's not really playing "with" them. He is using them as an object to return the ball. I don't know how to explain this other than that, but he is not playing "with them", they are just returning the ball.

How do I make him SEE the people?


Claire said...

This sounds similar to difficulties experienced by people with autism.
Maybe there are some autism resources in you area that you
Maybe focus him on who is there at any time , and his own emotions and other peoples?

E.g. In the toilet. Abel look, B in the toilet. He needs to pee. Wait for B. Good waiting! Now it's Abel's turn.

B is in the toilet. Abel needs a different toilet.

Or at snack time. Ask him to ask Axel he is hungry and what he would like and get him to help make Axel's snack then give it to him.

Social stories may help too, they are a bit like this, with relevant photos. You can choose 1st or 3rd person depending on Abel's understanding and your preference.
This is Abel.
Abel lives with Mom, Dad, Axel, Asher and Angela.
They have a van. They like the van, they go on trips in it.
When it's time to go Mom says, "Everyone go get in the van."
This means Abel, Asher, Angela and Axel.
Abel needs to walk slowly to the van. Abel needs to wait for Asher, Axel and Angela.
If Abel walks into Asher, Axel or Angela. They will be hurt. They will be sad.
When Abel walks slowly to the van everyone will be happy.
Mom, Dad, Asher, Axel, Abel and Angela can have a good time in the van.

There's an ipad app called "Pictello" which is designed for writing visual stories.

I hope some this is helpful. I'm not suggesting that Abel has autism, just that some autism resources may be useful.

Leah Spring said...

Claire, great suggestions! Thank you! I actually have had Pictello on one of our ipads for about 3 years and (hangs head in shame) have never used it! I will work on this over the weekend. Thanks!

Susan White said...

Leah, I am a blurker who very much enjoys reading your blog and had an idea for seems the key is getting him to recognize person-ness. Infants learn interaction by watching faces. When these incidences occur, stop him and turn him and his eyes to make eye contact with the face of the person he is objectifying. And then remind him via scripting "this is Asher. Asher is swinging. When Asher is done Abel can swing." All the while, looking at the face of the person.

Leah Spring said...

Susan thanks for coming out of blurkdom to comment! That is a great suggestion! I think I will be trying it. Also purchased some emotion cards that are photos of people/kids expressing different emotions.