Let’s Make A Movie
Krissy loved videos of any sort, but was particularly fascinated with ones of herself. She could easily repeat phrases and replay scenes from movies, which we initially saw as a huge negative because we were spending hours trying to get her to quit obsessing with the movies long enough to focus on the tasks at hand. Eventually though, we decided to attempt to use this power for good – and that is where My Perfect Day comes in. (The video you see here is roughly a third of the original movie, which also included multiplication facts, etc.) We had seen a little bit on video social stories for children with autism, but not a lot. After this I would not hesitate to use this approach again!
We only wanted to capture the very best of Krissy’s day, and to play it back as a standard for her to hold herself to. For instance at the time we were working on eating like a lady, so whenever we caught her doing a good job, we emphasized that. If Krissy was not doing as told, was engaging in a stim or was otherwise not at her best, we would simply turn of the camera and she would be instantly motivated to do better. We would often turn the LCD viewfinder towards her so she could see what we were filming, and getting that shut off was disappointing for her.
A Side Benefit
I determined to work with Krissy as much as possible on the production of the “movie” so that she could get an inside glimpse of how movies are made. I hoped that would demystify some of her favorite movies and their visual tricks. In fact, she selected her opening scene by trying to position the blankets as curtains. Once we understood what she was trying to do, we helped her implement it, and it turned out to be a very nice intro. She also looked at different effects with me before adamantly choosing the heart transition for the logo at the beginning!
Krissy did her own music for the beginning and end of the movie, and we had her read a script to be overdubbed with the video. She did really well with this and it was very nice to see how far her reading had come!
Like many children with autism, Krissy benefited greatly from a morning exercise program, and had a chart she could check off as she ran laps. We were working with her on not loitering or whining, so emphasized that here.
We really wanted Krissy to be a part of our family devotions in the morning, and she learned to sit quietly. (This was also an additional opportunity to work on a much-needed church skill!) After devotions, which often included watching a portion of a sermon on video, we would then each draw a name from our family prayer bucket and pray for that individual. Krissy was just learning the routine of passing out tags to each person when we filmed this portion of the movie, and she did an awesome job – totally showing off for the camera!
Lists and Timers
As soon as Krissy began to read, we found that the written word was often the best way to communicate effectively. Her auditory processing was just not as good as her visual processing, so it made sense to do what we could to play off her strengths. Hope developed a great morning list for her that allowed her to know what the expectations were, how much time she had to do each, and what her reward was at the end. In this case her reward was a break with her toys, and if she failed to get things done in time, she lost a minute of break. This worked very well for her, and we hoped would be instrumental in helping her gain a level of independence in these things.
Krissy was very messy, and we thought that one way to make her aware of the mess she was making was to have her be responsible to clean it up. Of course, she was not doing a spotless job, but it was a good start, and we used the movie to emphasis thoroughness and speed!
On the one hand there was nothing special about putting her clothes away. However, every minute she spent doing something productive was a minute not spent stimming or getting into trouble. We worked at keeping her busy, and jobs like this helped her be a productive member of the family.
Krissy (obviously!) was not on the GFCF diet any more, and making her own meals was another step towards independence and being a helper. You may wonder at the odd menu – we wanted Krissy to eat a balanced meal, but didn’t want every meal to be a battle either. Our solution was to make up a chart with cards that showed all her options for protein, all her options for dairy, for grains… She was instructed to pick one item from each category at each meal. Once she had a particular item (bacon, for instance) that card was flipped over until the next day, leaving her to choose from the other options. That really worked well for us.
This portion of the movie was completely staged. Krissy was interested in other people and wanted to know their names, but had no idea how to ask. We thought introducing the script in video form (in the longer version we went through more of her favorite animals) would help her cement the concepts.
Bible Story Book
I read The Big Picture Story Bible with Krissy and loved it. The Big Picture Bible is so God-centered I felt I was learning too! Since Krissy was also into voice recordings, she and I would record it as we went. I would read much of it leaving words or phrases for her to read as we went. That was a neat project.
One of Krissy’s rewards for work well done was the possibility of earning money. She had lots of things she wanted and at this point was just starting to get the idea of purchasing items. Going to the bakery was a huge treat, and we were very happy with how well she did!
Watering The Plants
A necessary chore in the summer, and a great way to use up some excess energy! She was learning to water thoroughly and not miss plants.
Krissy was initially terrified of water, but grew to love it. Her swimming skills were great and she really could swim across the lake with us, not just along the shore as seen here.
Another opportunity to emphasise table etiquette!
Krissy often had a hard time falling asleep, though melatonin really helped most nights. It was pretty awesome when she graduated from nights locked into her room for her own safety to being able to sleep on her mattress in the girls’ bedroom.
As with most children I’ve met with autism, Krissy was captivated with credits and if this was to be a real movie, it needed to have specific credits in it!