hopping on his knees like a frog from one side of the room to the next. When he’s not doing this he’ll stop and do a puzzle or -play with some stacking cups. Basically, he plays with the same things over and over. So when is it appropriate for me to bring in a new game or try to? It seems like all of this is ism’ing (or stimming).” This was my response to her. I thought you might be interested to read it as well…
Thanks for writing me! I totally know where you're coming from on this and I've got some things that may help. Timing is EVERYTHING so, first we need to determine if he is, in fact isming, and not really giving you a green light. Remember, the WHEN is just as important as the WHAT...
Raun Kaufman defines isming as repetitive & exclusive activities. So if he's not allowing you to participate with him, it’s not a green light. Sometimes, I'll introduce a new toy to Ka'eo and he'll look at me and happily engage with the new toy, however when I try to play with it with him, he
takes my pieces away and sometimes even moves away from me. That tells me he's being exclusive and isn't giving me a true green light yet.
A fantastic webinar to watch is Raun's "Decision Making in the Playroom". Our Son-Rise classmate mentioned this webinar 6 or 7 different times in our FB Group because she is such a fan of it. Honestly, Jackie and I are just as big of fans on this one as she is! Jackie once told me, "Wow, I never TRULY understood when I should be joining until I watched this webinar" (we'd had our playroom going for months already).
(1 HOUR 30 MIN)
Raun talks about the ABCs of joining: Assess - Bond - Challenge. He then shows us that we should constantly be ASSESSING where our child is in each moment we're working with him. Try asking yourself the following questions:
• Is my child is looking at me?
• Does my child respond when I call his name?
• Does my child seem flexible (i.e. willing to change or alter his activity)?
• Is my child is being physically affectionate with me?
• Is my child is involving me in his activity?
• When I make a request, does my child respond?
• Is my child is speaking to me?
If the answer is YES, you have a green light and you can begin to move into the CHALLENGE stage. If you do not have a green light, you should NOT be challenging your child at all. We always laugh at this part because Raun says, "you don't ask for SQUAT!"
If the answer is NO to these questions, you probably have a red light. You can tell if you do because:
• My child is stimming
• My child is excluding me from what he is doing
• My child seems rigid and controlling
• My child does not respond when I speak to him
• My child moves away when I touch him
• My child is making sure to move or turn away from me
When we have a red light, or even a yellow light (fleeting glances but not sustained eye contact), we MUST stay in the BOND phase. This is when we truly and genuinely join our children. We watch them for a while to really understand what they are doing, then we get our own objects, in our own space and we start to do the same thing and truly explore it and enjoy it. The key is, the more we completely get into our own version of this activity, the better. If we are simply copying what they are doing, but really just focusing on watching them the whole time, it's more of a "okay, I'm doing what you're doing so now you should look at me and pay attention to me"...kind
of attitude, which is really ineffective.
(As a side note, when you get a yellow light, you want to celebrate his brief eye contact, then go right back into joining him. Don't try to be tricky, our children are smart and will immediately pickup on that! When we run a red light with Ka'eo, Jr., he immediately lets us know by letting out a loud, "whaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaah!". Isn't it SO awesome how awareof everything they actually are!)
Attitude is most important, but timing is just as important. You really need to know when to challenge, to be effective with it. Don’t try to change your child’s behavior in any way. This is the biggest mistake people make, and it’s the mistake that is most detrimental to the whole point of joining. This process involves entering the child’s world, waiting for the child to voluntarily initiate interaction, and then (and only then) using that interaction to invite the child to stretch and communicate further.
Once you get your Green Light, you want to be sure to truly stay with his motivation. This can best be accomplished by simply ADDING ONE THING, and that's it. This is Bryn Hogan's (Raun’s sister) big mantra...just add one thing. So, say your son is running back and forth (actually Ka'eo does this same ism). As you run back and forth with him, first allow yourself enough time as you need to begin enjoying the experience and truly get immersed in it.
Feel free to laugh, giggle, and celebrate as you run with him. Eventually, he may begin to look at you or touch you as you run with him. Then you could try saying, "ready, set, go" as you start and stop your runs (keep in mind, your nottrying to get him to follow your commands or pace yet, your just saying this as you both freely run back and forth).
Your son may start to connect the pattern of your words with the starting and stopping of your running. When you feel his awareness of you growing, you can challenge him slightly by saying, "ready, set, <pause>... go!" and run with excitement. Hopefully, he'll wait and run when you do. If this works well, enjoy his growth! Then next time, you can start to challenge him by saying,
"ready, set, <pause>... g, g, g, go!" and run with excitement. This is how we encouraged Ka'eo, Jr. to begin saying single words (he used to be non-verbal a few months ago). When we would use the first letter, he would complete the word!
I remember at Start-Up, you said he was non-verbal, so that's why I used this example. Well, I really hope I'm on target with what you're asking me here... If not, try asking me again…and I'll try answering again! HAPPY PLAYING!!!