Give us a clue

Part of Raiyan’s programme recently was for Raiyan to tell us why something is what he thinks it is. For example, when shown a picture of a “cowboy” and if Raiyan himself thinks it is a cowboy, he has to tell us why he thinks it is a cowboy, which would be reasons like the boy being on a horse, him wearing a cowboy hat and cowboy boots and with him carrying a lasso. Raiyan slowly learnt that these things are called “clues”.

He ended up getting really keen on doing this as he just loves to get us to guess what he is holding or what it is he likes etc and if we say we don’t know, he will say “Ok I give you a clue! It is round, blue and it bounces!” (A ball!) OR “It has a mouse and cat in it and it begins with the letter T!” (Tom and Jerry!).

This has also proven to be good for reducing our prompts with him because rather than just tell him the answer straight away, we would instead give him clues and wait until he figures it out eventually. Naturally, this is really conducive towards his language development as well.

But most of all, it has proved to be really helpful during those times when we are not completely sure if he knows something but instead what he does is to pretend to know it. What this incredibly cheeky boy like to do is to trick us to telling HIM the answer by asking us to guess when in fact we are just going to feed him the answer by doing that!

For example, when we were about to visit his dear friend Fadhil at the hospital and whilst deciding on what present to buy for him, babah asked Raiyan if he knows what Fadhil likes. At first we can tell that he was just playing “hentam” because he was saying “Dinasours, animals and Tom and Jerry” which we know are the things that HE likes.

But then he said “Oh I know what it is. Come on Babah you know what it is. Guess!”

We probably made like close to 10 guesses and Raiyan kept saying “No.. come on.. you know it..” And even when we kept saying we give up and begged him to tell us the answer, he still insisted that babah knew the answer and so he’s not giving it away!

Around the 11th guess, I started to get suspicious on whether or not he actually knows the answer and perhaps what he was really doing was to trick us into telling him what Fadhil’s favourite thing is because he himself actually has no idea!

But lo and behold, I remembered the “give us a clue” trick and asked him for one and he immediately said “it begins with the letter F and we watched on TV at Adik’s house”. Only then did babah completely remembered “Fireman Sam” which he vaguely remembered Raiyan telling him about them all watching it together during one of the times they were at Adik’s house!

We really can’t ever underestimate this boy or what! :D

$Money Money Money$

We have started to get Raiyan acquainted with MONEY! Oc course following the basic principles of ABA, everything we try to instil needs to be broken down into very small and easy to follow steps so for now we are only familiarising him with 1 cents and 5 cents coins.

Just to make it interesting, we set up a pretend shop where there is a cash register and a box of fake supermarket items that Raiyan would need to purchase from us and we would ask for a certain amount of the coins that he has (which again, only consists of 1 cents and 5 cents coins). Oh and it is also worth to note that to do this, it is vital that the child has a basic knowledge of additions and at least to be able to add numbers that total to an amount not more than 10.

Just to share, this is how we are teaching him the value of money on a step by step basis:

1. First, we would just ask for either 1 cent OR 5 cent. What I tried to do is that with 1 cent coin, I taught him to identify it by it being gold coloured and having a diamond shape on one side whereas the 5 cent coin is silver and has a scorpion like shape on one side (of course it being an animal makes it all easier for Raiyan). So he can buy an apple for 1 cent and he would give me one 1 cent coin and he can buy a carton of milk for 5 cent and he would give me one 5 cent coin. This was relatively straightforward because all he had to do was remember the identity of these 2 coins separately from each other;

2. Once he has familiarised himself with what a 1 cent and a 5 cent coin look like, I tried to move by making him give more than just one coin. Again, using the simplest way, I ask him to give me 2 cents for a piece of bread to which he would give me two pieces of 1 cent coins. And then I would move on to 3 cents, 4 cents and then 5 cents where he would give me three, four and five 1 cent coins respectively.

3. Once he's familiar with that, then I started to make him do the same thing with the 5 cent coins but since we're keeping it simple, that would only make up one configuration which is two 5 cent coins to make 10 cents. This was not as straightforward as per 2. above as it took a while for him to see that ONE 5 cent coin actually makes up 5 units and not just 1. I really had to prompt him for this and in the end it did "seem" like he got the fact that TWO 5 cent coins make up the 10 cents that I asked from him. However, I am still not convinced that this is really mastered so there is definitely a need to revisit this over and over again.

4. You would think I'd stop at that point, seeing how he clearly had difficulties identifying a 5 cent coin to have 5 units as he still saw one coin to have just one unit. Noentheless, I still pushed further and tried to get him to give me 6 cents when he only have five 1 cent coins which would then compel him to give me a combination of one 5 cent coin and one 1 cent coin. OMG, this was such a STRUGGLE to do and I REALLY had to talk through every step of the way that I nearly went crazy! LOL! I would already have the 5 cent coin and the 1 cent coin on my palm and when asked he would STILL tell me that I only have 2 cents! Even after having passed 6 cents and to go on to 7 and 8 cents he was still finding it hard to grasp and his first answer was always (5+1+1) 3 cents and (5+1+1+1 )4 cents!!

I tried to get him to use his fingers by putting up five on one hand and then the 1 cent units on the other which did make it a tad easier but there is no denying that in the end, he reallly, really has to work hard on this.

I'm going to be more creative in terms of giving a better reinforcement for him to concentrate and work harder when doing this (as he kept switching off and gazing halfway through when we were doing it!).

In the bigger picture, I could tell him that it would be useful for him to understand the value of money so he can go to the bookstore and buy something himself if we give him the money beforehand? :-D But for broken down reinforcements, I really need to think of things he would really love to have so that he 'd be more motivated to learn this! With how difficult it seems to be for him, he needs all the motivation he can get!

Dinner Table Battles

I have mentioned before how difficult it is to get Raiyan to finish eating his meals and to stay at the dinner table throughout. I tried to use 30 minutes of TV as a reward for finishing his meals but after a while, its effectiveness receded as we still had to nag him every 5 seconds to put a spoonful into his mouth. Not surprisingly, this was one of the questions we had for Dr. Lee during the 20 minute private consultation we had with him.

Dr. Lee said that the best way (which is also something he sarcastically said is something mothers would just "love") is to make Raiyan know that eating can only happen at the dinner table and hence if he decides to leave, he has to understand that he will not be able to eat anything else until the next meal so he risked getting hungry during that time. Of course me as a mother immediately thought that this would naturally mean if Raiyan leaves the table after just one spoon and if he continues to do this at every meal, he will start getting malnourished! Dr. Lee assured me that from his experience, this tactic would only take up a few days at most as "surprise surprise" the kids would always end up being hungry!! The most important thing is (along with dealing with other behavioural problems) is to be consistent and to follow through.

So we've been trying that with Raiyan and we have persevered through his unremitting whines and excuses.. The usual ones he comes up with is:

R: "I miss Alisha, can I be with her ?"(in the playroom-I know I lack consistency this way as I let Alisha and Addin eat in the playroom before the TV!)
to which I answer : "You can be with Alisha for the rest of the day after you finish your lunch"
R:But why Alisha eat in playroom? I want to eat in the playroom too?"
Me: Alisha is still a baby so it's ok for her to not eat at the dinner table. But when she turns 3, she must eat at the dinner table too ok?"
R: "Okaaayy..sob sob"

So when I did what Dr. Lee advised to and told him that he can leave the dinner table if he doesn't want to eat anymore BUT he cannot eat anything until dinner time, he STILL decided against leaving because I know he wants to eat his chocolate chip cookies right after AND I also think because of this natural compliant nature, he could tell I was upset by making that threat so he just stayed for fear I might get even more upset if he DOES leave! Bless him!

In the end, he still finished his meal and he still complies to eat at the dinner table.. BUT we STILL have to continue nagging him to continue to feed himself everytime we see him switch off and gaze into mid-air! Sigh, somethings just never change BUT we really hope to overcome this one day so long as we are consistent and we persevere!! InsyaAllah Amin!

I'm Back!

Finally, things are starting to wind down and our family is beginning to go back to a "relatively" normal life after such a busy two months since the start of the year.. As for me, I have finally gone on my first work overseas trip which has afforded me with the guilt free opportunity to update this blog of mine. Again, I decided to give a new look to the blog just because fickle me got bored with the old one. Plus, apart from animals, Raiyan also really loves rainbows so I just thought it would be great to have another love of him to be the theme of the blog.

As I said, things have been really hectic lately, especially after the one week seminar we had earlier this month. I just cannot quantify into words how much I learnt from Dr. Douglas Lee that week, both during the seminar and also outside of it (when kiasu hubby and I tried to grab every opportunity to share meals with him!). All in all, what I learnt that week really reinforced what Kerri had taught me in this past year and I was so pleased and humbled to see that the basic methods of ABA has been instilled in me and is something that I can generalise quite easily if I were to compare to what it was like when I first started. However, I was also in awe at how much MORE I can do to help Raiyan and it has gotten me all fired up to start all fresh and be more organised in dealing with Raiyan's behaviour and generalising what is taught during therapy.

So hopefully, I can safely promise to blog more now and specifically I hope to be even more focused on the kind of things I am doing in trying to help Raiyan improve and improve and reach his full potential! The work never stops indeed!!
PURPOSE:Hoping for more understanding and less judgment from all.

 To show the importances of early intervention and an evidence based treatment to help reach the full potential of the child.

 Offering other parents hope to have faith in the positive progress of their child.

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