There are breakthroughs and there are breakthroughs.
Yesterday, I spent a few hours alone with both kids – this is, as you can imagine, a bit of a challenge, when I’m coping with a very non-verbal child (an 11 month old infant) and a semi-non-verbal child (being the Monster at a very rambunctious 4 1/2 years). Most of the time, it works out fairly well, since the baby is still exploring his environment and the Monster’s quite content to play around/with him.
But, as mentioned, yesterday was one of those days.
The Monster’s latest obsession is the array of magnets on our fridge – he likes to reorganize them, and occasionally to read the ones that he can make out. (Basic sight-reading is one of the pre-K curriculum goals here in Baltimore.) When I’m dealing with the baby, he can often be left alone to play with the magnets for a little bit and I can trust him not to be making a menace of himself. Still, I really could use at least another of myself on these times, and more so really to deal with the baby – what parent hasn’t wanted an extra set of hands to go grab a bottle while changing a diaper, for instance?
And… well, with most situations like this, you’d just figure that I’d holler out to the eldest to help, right? Except, well… the obvious.
I’ve never taken the Monster’s Autism as an excuse, and it’s a good chance to reinforce one of his IEP goals (2-3 step directions). “[Monster!],” I called out from the living room, once I’d made sure that the gate between the living room and kitchen was in fact open and that I could hear him playing on with the magnets. “Go to the fridge and bring me one of [the baby’s] bottles.”
It took a minute or two (and a repetition), but sure enough, out he came running with one of the baby bottles from the fridge. Okay, so two-step direction accomplished. He handed off the bottle, and then ran back into the kitchen to return to his beloved magnets.
And as the afternoon progressed, and I needed the bottles at various points, the instructions changed – I did less specifying how he should be doing it, and simply ended up with “[Monster], I need [the baby’s] bottle.”… and each time, he came out with it.
It’s hardly letting him fold his own laundry or getting him to make breakfast, but it’s a good step. Plus, it’s good that he’s stepping up as a big brother…