I really liked this and wanted to share it. As a teacher, I know first hand that repetition is a valuable teaching tool. As a parent, I can validate this further.

When I was an English Coordinator, I was privileged to trial and implement Pie Corbett‘s Talk for Writing. I am very passionate about Talk for Writing and may dedicate a post to it because, quite frankly, I have seen it help SO many children including those with SEN! I loved his message that children need input before they can produce. We ask children to write but we need to give them something to write about, get language into them and teach them about the ‘rules’ of different genres before we do.

Pie Corbett’s model is based on three stages…imitate, innovate and invent. The children have to learn a text by heart using symbols and actions, then they change one or more elements, then they create their own text using all of the tools they have learnt. I will definitely revisit this as I believe it is something all children should have access to, and more importantly, can access effortlessly.

The results were amazing! Utterly astounding!

Anyway, this article got me thinking about a conversation I recently had with my dad. It’s not completely related but here it is…

He said he felt bad because he hasn’t helped my son. I asked what he meant and he explained that he had perpetuated my son’s fixations and interests, and that maybe he should have encouraged him not to indulge in them.

As an example, my son loves, or loved, In the Night Garden. My dad always let him play a Night Garden app on his phone and watched the show with him. My son began to associate my dad with playing on his phone, specifically In the Night Garden. Earlier this year, my dad and I took the children to watch it live and he bought them some Night Garden keepsakes.

My dad somehow felt that nurturing these interests was wrong and only worsened my son’s ‘condition’.

I explained that he had done nothing wrong. He had instead respected my son’s interests and actually learned to share the experience with him, which was wonderful. They would sit together, snuggled up, watching the phone, and I had no issue with that. In fact, it warmed my heart to see their bond and interactions over this special interest.

My son often needs stories, television shows and apps to help him communicate. It’s all part of learning his patterns, and as I’ve said before, I’ve drawn on his memory of these things to create social stories and teach him how to cope with different situations. Although it takes a village to raise a child, I don’t expect other people to do this ‘teaching’, only to enjoy spending time with him and just let him be. Most of his little life is, and will centre around, having to learn patterns, fight his natural urges and step outside of his comfort zone to fit in. He deserves to just be himself around his family and I’m happy they all accept him for who he is.

By nurturing these interests, we enabled my son to feel secure in the familiar. We then used the familiar to introduce the unfamiliar.

As an example, he used to fixate on specific books. Five Minutes Peace and The Hungry Caterpillar were his favourites. His visual memory is amazing and he could regurgitate entire books by the age of two, including expression for the spoken parts. He can recognise some words in the context of the books and has even started adding his own bits in recent months. I digress again…we can talk about that more later.

Anyway, the point is…to introduce new books I had to use his obsession with the familiar. So…”Tonight, Mummy is going to choose a new book to read, but we will read your book first.”

At first, he struggled to accept the new…but over time this has become easier and easier.

I think this topic requires more research and discussion because what I am sharing here is merely from experience…not from reading.

I remember as a teacher I came across a child who was fixated on gold/yellow. We were advised not to let him always choose yellow…he had to have a different colour. This upset his little world. I didn’t enforce it because I found that by letting him have yellow, he felt comfortable and happy. I could introduce new colours once he was in that state.

This just seems logical to me!

What a day!

I tried to post this yesterday but it wouldn’t save…

We had the best day today. I’m utterly beaming.

I managed to take the children out by myself to a group, and they absolutely loved it. They were engaged all the way through. We had a slight upset at the end but it was manageable.
We then went to the library to return and choose some new books, as well as to buy a cake to take home.

I’ve had some health issues that are now (hopefully) being managed, so this is a big thing for me. This blog is not about my health but I mention it briefly because it has made everything I have discussed SO much harder. At the moment, I am just loving life and being able to do all the things I once took for granted. I have my bad days, but so many more good.

Anyway, we had an active day where they were engaged and happy, and when I read them their bedtime stories, there was just such a wonderful atmosphere of calm and happiness.

To the outside world today, my eldest in particular most certainly didn’t present as autistic as he used his scripts and toolkit. It was beautiful to watch, and for the first time in my life so far, I got to sit and have a cup of tea and a chat with other parents. Obviously, I needed to have eyes on but I didn’t need to be attached to them.

I know not every day will be like this but what a lovely day!

I want to thank Daniel the Tiger for helping me to resolve a situation where there could have been a mega meltdown. My eldest’s doughnut got squished. I saw all the signs but luckily remembered an episode he watches on repeat about birthday cake being ‘smushed’ but still tasting great.

This past week, he has been singing lots of songs from Daniel the Tiger and has even been teaching his brother some of the advice from the show. It’s going in!!!!

Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood

I am sure I will be referring to how Daniel the Tiger has helped us in other ways. I can already tell you that “If you got to go potty, stop and go right away, then flush and wash and be on your way…” has been beyond helpful!!!!!