following directions...and why they cannot

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momsparky
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22 May 2012, 9:12 am

I just realized something we do where this lesson is illustrated beautifully (maybe better for older kids.) Because I'm concerned about life skills, I've been teaching my son to cook. I don't know anywhere in the world that is a better testing ground for instructions than the kitchen. Keep in mind that in your kitchen, following instructions is less about general social expectations and more about trusting the steps given to you by someone who knows how to do it, but it's a good lesson.

It's also taught flexibility in the same way: in cooking, there are some times when you have to follow a recipe or plan exactly for it to work out, and some times when you can do your own thing. As we've progressed (we've been doing this for four years now) I can show that even things like baking, where everybody says measurement and following directions is critical, can be messed around with - as long as you are prepared for your experiments to fail.

Nothing says "follow the directions" like a failed cookie.



angelgarden
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22 May 2012, 9:13 am

MMJMOM wrote:
He HAS to change things, he cannot just do as he is asked, for any reason. Even if he will comply, he will say, "wait first I have to..." and he will do something first and then come back and do what he was asked to do. He can NEVER just follow anything...

it can be very exhausting dealing with someone who is oppositional and defiant all day long.


Oh, my goodness, yes!! My son exactly--at least the part about saying, 'Wait, first I have to . . . ' And if I dare insist, there is great conflict. He is on his OWN MISSION and dare not deter from it. He definitely sees his own 'projects' as the most important thing in his life. He has even told me how important what he is working on is! 'I have to finish this very important thing . . . ' As if he were already a scientist or an engineer or an alchemist working on some amazing breakthrough. It is the same in his mind. Kind of cute at times, but exhausting. :cry: Sorry.

(He also has to 'add' to what I give him to do--as in, 'No, not that way, mom . . . I'm going to do it like this.' Usually in a way that means it takes more time, makes more mess, or more stress. No, he doesn't 'rule' our roost. But, OP, you understand this.)



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22 May 2012, 11:50 am

So you have rules.. and you have directions.

Following directions: This requires processing of language. You may want to reduce the amount of directions you are giving, have him repeat the directions to ensure understanding, and then have him complete the task. Reward him when he is done completing the task. The idea of cooking is FANTASTIC. Start out with a small recipe, something he likes. My son always feels better, and is able to sit at tasks when he had sensory input just prior or during. It may be necessary to have to do something like jumping jacks, swinging, etc. right before he has to sit and attend to long tasks. You can reduce this need as he gets older. We actually had a classroom downstairs that had sensory input items. A swing installed from the ceiling, therapy balls, bean bags, etc. My son was also better able to concentrate with white noise in the background (he used to do his homework and reading in the bathroom for this reason). You may also want to cover up the other problems or sentences he is going to have to do. This will reduce distraction and help keep him on task. If you see he has mastered the problem or "gets" what he is doing MOVE ON. One of the beauties of homeschooling is that you move at his pace. I also found it useful to acknowledge that "School" in my home, did not have to look like "School" that most kids went to. My son loved to draw and write comics. So I let him. It wasn't until later on, did I worry about the perfect structure of a sentence. Read about unschooling if you haven't already. We used a combo of structured learning and unschooling depending on the subject.

Following Rules: Figure out which rules are non-negotiable and stand your ground. Use reinforcements when he does "good" following your family rules. Start a chart and let him EARN something that is special to him (I always used whatever the obsession was at that time, ahh.. we have a bundle of bionicles, lol). If he is not going to follow the rules, well its time to implement some type of punishment. You need to be clear about the results of NOT following the rules and DO IT. If its a smaller item, it may be to take away a sticker on a chart. If its a big rule, like hurting someone you MUST follow through and in a big way. I found that taking his obsession away worked when he broke the big rules (like hurting others). My friend actually strips her sons room of everything when he breaks a big rule (except his bed, clothes, and an alarm clock). If you are out at some event and your son breaks a rule, you must follow through immediately. No waiting. This may mean that your outing is DONE.



My son was in regular public school when he was young. He did not follow the rules of the classroom, had meltdowns, etc. He had a lot of behavioral problems. I pulled him out of school, and decided to home school him and his sister. I did this for 6 years with him (shorter with my daughter). I was tough on him when it came to following rules (not to be confused with following directions, they are two different things). When we went out into the community, I can't even begin to tell you the number of times we left places because of his behavior. I can't tell you the number of times I had to restrain my son when he couldn't just do what he wanted. It was HARD WORK. There is no magic cure. It is trial and error. But.. you have to pick your battles about your rules and expectations. Choose wisely, because you can't win them all. Make the house rules clear, and post them. He has to KNOW what they are, if possible sit down and ask him to explain to you each rule. You may find that he does NOT have a clear understanding of the things you think he does. Put the consequences down as well.

When working with him educationally, be flexible. Give short directions, and work your way up to bigger ones. Let him choose a comfortable place to do his work. Let him explore topics on his own (unschooling). If he likes space, let him do a bunch of stuff on space for science. Get help, make sure you are working with an OT and SLP. My son went weekly for the entire 6 years to a SLP. He was in OT for the first 2 years, two times a week. Then on an needed basis only. Both of these places provide direction and help for me as a parent on how to deal with various issues. If you can't afford it, be sure to contact your local school district they have to provide services to every child, even those who are homeschooled. If you do NOT use the local district, be sure to get a membership to HSLDA. They have a special education teacher on staff that you can USE when you get stuck as part of your membership (and its cheap).

I also got him involved with Cub Scouts. It was instrumental in helping him understand social skills, as well as giving him tasks to complete. Find a leader (or become one yourself) that works with children well. I interviewed several cub masters, and found a group that I thought my son would fit well with. When he was old enough, he moved into Boy Scouts (although he stopped going this year because of going back to school, just too much homework, school and stress). If you don't have scouts in your area, find a club to get into. Something of his interest. Let him choose. My son decided on cub scouts becuase of his grandfathers stories from when he was a kid.

Overall this is a process, that will take TIME. READ every book you can get your hands on about working with autistic kids. Read about all the different methods, like ABA, Sensory Therapy, Music Therapy, etc.

My son just went back to school this year. I was scared to DEATH of what would happen. He did fine. In fact, he was upset about how the other kids were disruptive, disrespectful and such. This is a College prep school, and he has VERY severe learning problems. He has passed his classes, and will be moving on. He enjoys school NOW because he has been taught how to control himself. His teachers have found that he needs certain accommodations, like longer times on tests and a place that is quiet and free from distraction when he takes those tests. He needs an alphasmart, he needs a safe place to go when he gets overwhelmed. he has to be TOLD to come in for extra help, instead of him doing it on his own. These are all things that carried over from him being homeschooled, and went into his IEP.

Bottomline... your son will disrupt your family life. So does every kid. He is going to be tough to work with, so are other kids. He will learn, with your guidance and patience. You will fail and so will he. The failures will lead to success.... Good luck.



jackbus01
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22 May 2012, 8:59 pm

I need to always know the reasons behind everything. For some reason that drives everyone nuts. The older I've gotten the more I tone it down, but I ask as many questions as I can get away with.
Sometimes there are rules in life that you have to just tolerate. Maybe you can examples in your adult life that your kid could understand.
Examples might be traffic laws etc.

I have noticed that when a lot of NT persons question rules they are often trying to be defiant and trying to assert authority. I think AS persons are often just searching for information. That is a big difference.



Mama_to_Grace
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23 May 2012, 7:37 pm

With my daughter, it's a combination of attention issues (not that she doesn't have it but that it's always elsewhere) and sequencing issues. If it's more that one step there's going to be issues. And if I don't make sure there's understanding or acknowledgment, it probably won't happen. Oppositional does happen here but it's more of a "mood" she gets into a not a permanent state. Sometimes it's in the way you word things too, making it sound like the "best idea ever" can help. My daughter is easily tricked that way sometimes. :lol:



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23 May 2012, 8:57 pm

I use to change sentences on my school work. I have wanted to be a writer since I was a child and I changed setences to something that sounded more poetic. Something that I liked and sounded better. See I don't even like that wording, "the surprised boy jump out of the chair". First off you cannot jump off of a chair. You can spring from a chair, or fly off as your son changed, but you cannot jump out of a chair.

I guess I wrote this because I don't know your son, but I can give a different view point. I have always been vivid and creative and could twist words. People asked me to think in a box that my mind didn't fit in. My mind branched and bended.



Rebel_Nowe
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24 May 2012, 4:19 pm

I was thinking about this topic at lunch today, and I realized how much the part about changing the sentences in books was like me when public school didn't challenge me enough. Assuming the "jumped" vs. "flew" example is specifically true, he changed the sentence to be more colorful and to express more. It's a change that an older student might be told to make. I was always extremely advanced in my language skills to the point of regular boredom with whatever we were reading at the time. I was also, particularly at around his age, fascinated by the variety of words that could mean the same thing and words with lots of different meanings. If this sounds like your son, you should try pushing his comprehension limits more. Find something for him to read that will force him to account for every word to understand it.

This could also help with following directions, in the long run. Reading books with long, complex sentences was where I learned to keep up with multiple instructions by reorganizing the ideas of multiple steps into a single complex compound sentence.


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cubedemon6073
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24 May 2012, 6:52 pm

When I was a child I was very rule bound and still rule bound. If I didn't understand the logic of a rule and the rule made no sense I had a panic attack. I did not know what to do. It is why I question a lot. All I am trying to do is to make sure I understand how to follow it. This is why I ask for the reasoning behind it. My parents have said that when I was a child I was the most well behaved child they ever met out of all children they met and babysat. I was like a self-contained child. There were exceptions but for the most part I was very rigid in following the rules. In fact, when I was in 1st - 2nd grade I tried to enforce the rules for the teacher which backfired on me. I had to become more flexible due to necessity.

I still to this day have major problems wanting to breaking rules but in my teen years I found ways to get out of following the rules by using the rules themselves. I especially did this with my s**t head power transportation teacher who used to scream at the students all of the time and would spit while he screamed. He would make us copy all of these questions and some of the questions were paragraphs long. This is what I did. I came to the logical conclusion that most of the statements were declarative sentences and were not questions. If the actual question said why I would just literally write down the question "why."

This was the first time I discovered I could use loopholes to my advantage or get out of doing things. I defied shitty teachers I had through this method. I've mastered this into an art form especially through the study of the socratic method. I am not a perfect angel. I have been called passive agressive. The only one so far who I have met my match is you momsparky. Momsparky, you seem to understand how I think pretty well. Momsparky, how would you deal with someone like me if I was your child? Is your child similar to me?



By the way, I love cookies especially double chocolate ones.

MagicMeerkat, I have the feeling you would've been in his face am I correct? Your style is different than mine.



MMJMOM
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24 May 2012, 7:05 pm

Rebel_Nowe wrote:
I was thinking about this topic at lunch today, and I realized how much the part about changing the sentences in books was like me when public school didn't challenge me enough. Assuming the "jumped" vs. "flew" example is specifically true, he changed the sentence to be more colorful and to express more. It's a change that an older student might be told to make. I was always extremely advanced in my language skills to the point of regular boredom with whatever we were reading at the time. I was also, particularly at around his age, fascinated by the variety of words that could mean the same thing and words with lots of different meanings. If this sounds like your son, you should try pushing his comprehension limits more. Find something for him to read that will force him to account for every word to understand it.

This could also help with following directions, in the long run. Reading books with long, complex sentences was where I learned to keep up with multiple instructions by reorganizing the ideas of multiple steps into a single complex compound sentence.


thank you! This is very helpful...sometimes I feel as if he IS bored. And his mind is wildly creative, and I now he is spicing things up a bit for himself when doing this. Oh, and that sentence I just made up not one that we used...I see I am not great at making examples...lol.

I am absolutely going to try more complex books, as lots for his age group are way below his reading level. And he does know about synonoms and antynoms and likes to make examples of them, so maybe he is doing this whyle reading! Great insight :)


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MMJMOM
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24 May 2012, 7:11 pm

Nig Nag,

that was very helpful and well thought out! My son is in a lot of activities, and the most helpful I find is Karate. Not that he carries over any of the skills to real life (respect, self control, integrity, etc...) but he is able to hold himself together the best in Karate. I am not sure cub scouts would do it for him, maybe when he is older boy scouts? I dont know..he likes swimming and he is in several social skills groups.

And thanks everyone, great ideas...

MomSparky my son LOVES to help me cook, and he always reads the ingredients and cooking instructions as well. We make some awesome creations, oddly enough he never tries to change the recipes!


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momsparky
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24 May 2012, 8:22 pm

cubedemon6073 wrote:
The only one so far who I have met my match is you momsparky. Momsparky, you seem to understand how I think pretty well. Momsparky, how would you deal with someone like me if I was your child? Is your child similar to me?


LOL, I was raised by two people just like you! I learned in self-defense!

DS is mostly not that kind of a kid (he's often defiant, but not rules-bound; he wants things his way, not the right way) but I do find it helps to sit down and explain everything as thoroughly and as patiently as you can, and to remember that someone else's givens and benchmarks might not be what you expect. Often, there is a misunderstanding that's at the root of bad behavior, and finding and addressing that can make a world of difference. I really like how this article explains it:

Sometimes, you have to say "I don't have time to explain, you're just going to have to trust me." It's never been a happy situation, but we get through.



MMJMOM
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24 May 2012, 10:07 pm

momsparky wrote:
cubedemon6073 wrote:
The only one so far who I have met my match is you momsparky. Momsparky, you seem to understand how I think pretty well. Momsparky, how would you deal with someone like me if I was your child? Is your child similar to me?


LOL, I was raised by two people just like you! I learned in self-defense!

DS is mostly not that kind of a kid (he's often defiant, but not rules-bound; he wants things his way, not the right way) but I do find it helps to sit down and explain everything as thoroughly and as patiently as you can, and to remember that someone else's givens and benchmarks might not be what you expect. Often, there is a misunderstanding that's at the root of bad behavior, and finding and addressing that can make a world of difference. I really like how this article explains it:

Sometimes, you have to say "I don't have time to explain, you're just going to have to trust me." It's never been a happy situation, but we get through.


Jayden is like this. He isnt rule bound either, he does want things HIS way and that is all he cares about. I also find myself telling him that we can talk about this later, when it is something I just need him to do, and we always talk about it later....but MAN he wants to be in charge 100%! Hey, if the kid made good decisions Id gladly give it over to him...lol


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24 May 2012, 10:50 pm

You've gotten lots of great insight and input here but I just thought I would add one thing I have been reading lately, Ross Greene (author of The Explosive Child) has a great website http://www.livesinthebalance.org/. His theory about kids is that if they can do well they will and what they lack are the skills that would allow them to do well. In your case, "do well" could be interpreted to mean, "follow instructions". Check it out if you have the time or the inclination. Even though these ideas were not necessarily new to me, his perspective and detail has given me more inspiration to view my son's non-compliance in a different light.



cubedemon6073
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24 May 2012, 11:29 pm

momsparky wrote:
cubedemon6073 wrote:
The only one so far who I have met my match is you momsparky. Momsparky, you seem to understand how I think pretty well. Momsparky, how would you deal with someone like me if I was your child? Is your child similar to me?


LOL, I was raised by two people just like you! I learned in self-defense!

DS is mostly not that kind of a kid (he's often defiant, but not rules-bound; he wants things his way, not the right way) but I do find it helps to sit down and explain everything as thoroughly and as patiently as you can, and to remember that someone else's givens and benchmarks might not be what you expect. Often, there is a misunderstanding that's at the root of bad behavior, and finding and addressing that can make a world of difference. I really like how this article explains it:

Sometimes, you have to say "I don't have time to explain, you're just going to have to trust me." It's never been a happy situation, but we get through.


My extra good behavior as a child was so good it was scary. This and other things is what prompted my father who taught special education that something was wrong. My father said when I started talking I spoke like a philosopher. Where I had problems was when rules contradicted, rules weren't applied in a consistent manner or the rules made no sense. These things got worse for me as I grew up. What were you like as a child? Were you like DS or something else? How would you deal with someone like me if you had someone like me as a child? Your posting to the article did not come through. By the way, I've started reading the links you've given me. They are very interesting.



momsparky
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25 May 2012, 9:57 am

So sorry, I went to look it up, got distracted, you know how it goes. Here's the article: http://www.oneplaceforspecialneeds.com/ ... utism.html (note, it isn't really about tantrums despite the title.)

I am the black sheep in my family; everyone else has some kind of advanced degree in philosophy and I have a degree in theater (I used to joke that I was the only member of my family who could actually get a job in their chosen profession.) I was a giant pain in the @$$ my whole life, did my own thing my own way, never followed anybody's rules (though to a degree I am still rules-bound; I now do a lot of work with law enforcement.) I was never rebellious in the way teens are - because I was busy rebelling against the teens who were my peers, not because I was "good."

My son is very, very like me - which sometimes helps because I understand him, and sometimes means we get into an impasse when my rules and his rules collide (like this morning when I insisted that his school notebook needed to go IN his backpack because he tends to forget things he's holding, and he insisted that he COULD NOT put it in his backpack because he was WEARING it and had already buckled his seat belt. Even after I explained that I expected him to unbuckle and take off the backpack to put the notebook in, he angrily refused. We got through it, but I wasn't particularly patient and I'm not proud of myself.)

I'm glad you like the links, cubedemon!