Home Not-Alone

monsteroncouchI’m very fortunate to have a flexible job that lets me work from home when need-be.  Even as a manager, since my teammates also can work from home (which they often do on Fridays), I can settle in at the dining room table with my laptop and get my work done, which frees me up to watch the kids if they’re home from school, and frees my wife up to get things done.

It also gives me interesting insight sometimes into the Monster.

This morning, R had preschool while the Monster’s school was closed for a professional development day.  It’s about four hours that I’m alone with the Monster, while I juggle him and my work (mostly telephone conferences, but some paperwork).

Now, when I’m home alone with R, a lot of it is managing activities for him while I’m trying to get things done, with his proactive interruptions for when he wants attention, when he wants something, and he has fully developed ideas of what it is that needs attending to.  If he wants a drink or whatnot, he might not be asking me nicely for them, but he’s asking me, and able to wholly verbalize what he needs.

As the Monster’s gotten older, the verbalization of what he wants or needs has still been lagging behind… but he’s largely self-motivated.  (For instance, while I’m writing this, he’s just moved from the couch to the floor to play with the marble track toy that we have for them, despite the fact that at points, it gets too loud for his tastes.)  He can be minimally supervised while I’m trying to do things, and take adequate care of himself – including finding things to eat if a preferred food’s been left in a spot where he knows to find it – to a certain point.

And that’s when the groaning starts.

He has his AT talker, and that’s been the lion-share of working with him on these mornings when we’re home alone.  His teacher mentioned to me in an email earlier this week that he seems to be using it less… which is interesting, because he’s really good at finding what he wants to tell me when he’s at home.  For example, with little prompting this morning, he keyed in to the device that he wanted waffles for breakfast.  (To be fully honest – he told me he wanted pancakes, until I told him that I don’t have any, and that he could choose from waffles or cereal.  But he navigated successfully through the various contextual menus, including selecting ‘breakfast’ from the food screen.)  and this is a huge leap forward.

But it still feels sometimes that, despite his deficiencies in expressive speech, that he’s still unwilling to use the device.  He’ll punch in ‘I want to eat’ and navigate to the screen where the desired food is, and then hover his finger over the button while repeating ‘this?’ verbally.  It’s really the matter of synthesizing what he’s learned about it – where items are on the displays, and the way to put the words together to form a thought – and applying it outside of an adult having to walk him through the process.

And that’s a good thing about these ‘unstructured’ mornings at home, making him put the work of expressing his needs into practice, be it through his voice or the AT.

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