Sunday, 3 March 2013

Our New Tools

Quiet weekend here, although that's not how it started out.  Natey and I spent Friday evening at an urgent care center after he woke up at 4pm with a REALLY nasty ear infection.  So now have added antibiotics to the mix, but he has improved rapidly and seems to be a pretty happy camper today.

I have tried to spend a fair amount of time doing some enrichment stuff with the boys this weekend.  We have been trying out apps on the IPAD and we have found a few that both boys seem to really enjoy.  Nathan is getting in on the action- there is a shape sorter app that cheers and throws confetti when you get the shapes in the right spot, and he seems to dig this.  We recently purchased the chair and tray that his home visit therapist uses, as it is a great way to help him focus.  I have been putting him in this and working on the shape sorter there.  It really really helps.  Here is a pic of the contraption:

Probably the biggest thing we are using the IPAD for right now is to improve Nate's communication.  I downloaded an app called My Choice Board and it seems to be pretty user friendly.  It is basically a PECS (picture exchange communication system) that is digital.  The advantages of this are many- you can't lose the cards your kid needs, you can change them as frequently as needed with very little effort, and rather than with most PECS programs, you can use actual photos instead of a nonspecific picture of a toy.  This is important because Nate is really not able to generalize objects yet.  For instance, if he wants HIS ball, he will need a picture of that exact ball in order for him to understand what he is asking for- not just another random ball.  Obviously the goal is to get him to generalize, but first he needs to identify objects by name consistently.  And we are not there yet.  I am making each "board" only 2 or at the most 3 choices, as I don't want to confuse him.  Another handy feature is that you can record your voice naming the object, so that when the child touches the picture they hear mom's voice saying it's name.  We are just familiarizing him with the program at the moment, I am really really hoping this helps him communicate his needs and decreases his frustration.  He wanted chips today (he loves tortilla chips with a passion) and when I told him all done he proceeded to hit me about 5 times.  I repeatedly grabbed his hand and said no hit, but he was really ticked off and would start again if I let go.  I DO NOT want to go down this road with him- how do you discipline a child who has such limited comprehension at this point? 

Anyway, the apps we are using most with Jack are fine motor related.  There are many cool apps that work on letter formation. Jack has always had issues with this, one of the major problems is that he refuses to form his letters "correctly".  He often insists on doing it backwards.  These programs will not allow that, physically they won't.  So he is forced to do it the "right" way.  There is one app called "sky writers".  It consists of an airplane that he moves along the outline of a letter- when he does it correctly a trail of clouds follows the plane.  Yes, I'm serious.  VERY effective.  There is another app which we haven't actively used yet called choiceworks- similar to pecs in that it uses pictures, just in another way.  It's a picture schedule.  Something that will benefit Jack greatly- it will help ease his anxiety by showing him what's coming next.  I plan to try it first with our morning routine- I want to see if it can help decrease the number of tantrums he has before school.  Right now I would say he usually has about 4 before he walks out the door for the bus at 8:40.  Waking up, taking supplements, getting dressed, choosing breakfast, choosing a program to watch before school, and then the usual meltdown when I tell him it's time to leave.  I guess that's more than 4.  The program also has a timer- I think I will set it for the last 10 minutes before it is time to leave to see if it helps him "get ready".  Fingers crossed

As with all "interests" with Jack we have to be careful with the IPAD.  He could easily get obsessed with certain things.  For instance, we have this animal identication program for Nate- but Jack is obsessed with horses and if we let him he will sit there and hit the horse picture until the cows come home (ha).  He is also getting really into the wii- air games of course.  Mommy cannot deny it, she too is obsessed.  It's FUN!  Of course we have different goals- I am trying to find all 80 destinations, and Jack continues to look for unique ways to crash.  But he is evolving- he has figured out how to land the plane without crashing it on the beach and in the water (it's a seaplane).  Back to his fixations though- the game takes place in a cluster of islands and at one point a humpback whale popped out of the water.  If you recall, this is a past "area of interest" for him.  He proceeded to beg me to play the game for him over and over again until we could find the whale....again and again and again.  I had to nip that in the bud after a bit.  Despite this, I can honestly say that this game is great for his fine motor skills and his focus.  Landing on the water takes some serious manuevering- and so does crashing into a specific window on a building.  So that's progress. 

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