I had a meeting at Ellen’s college this morning all about the new ECH Plans, which from September 1 this year are gradually replacing Statements of Special Educational Need. Whilst my friend and I both felt that all the professionals creating reports and attending meetings would probably be better off actually spending time with our young people, neither do we want to be left out! The whole process sounds time-consuming and a paperwork nightmare but it does get all the relevant people together to talk about the young person, their aspirations (beyond McDonalds and DVD-watching apparently) and how to give them the best education to prepare them for their future lives. If it manages to create any kind of joined up thinking between the various departments – even within the local council – I’ll be phoning up to request Ellen’s assessment tomorrow!
Whilst I was having all this fun, Ellen was out with a new carer at Whipsnade zoo. Ellen’s been going to the zoo for around fifteen years and has a fairly strict order around the animals – Discovery Centre (spiders and snakes), then tigers, possibly elephants, hippos, giraffes, zebras and home. Imagine my surprise when the new carer said how much fun they’d had feeding the bears and watching the chimps being fed. Bears?! I queried, feeling as surprised as if she’d told me one of the Teletubbies had served them lunch. Ellen was smiling away, loving my discomposure. It just goes to show that some of her routines are more carer-based than autism-based.
I had a very stimulating activity all lined up for the afternoon – dusting off the bookcase of CDs. It may on the surface seem to be fairly boring but actually it is not only very good for RDI patterns and turn-taking but it gets a bit of dreaded housework done too. At first Ellen was quite distracted and only wanted to talk about how to get Roo’s ball off Hide & Seek Woozle (an integral part of the play station game; Piglet’s Big Game), but the lure and excitement of the task soon got to her. We took it in turns to take the CDs off the shelf, sprayed and dusted (there was a rather shocking amount of dust) and put them back.
I have a few Indian ornaments which are wrought ironwork and difficult to dust with a cloth duster. Ellen tried but her duster kept getting stuck on the metal spikes. Yes! I thought, a problem! Problems are RDI gold. Using the ‘pause’ it’s an opportunity to explore and develop Ellen’s dynamic thinking.
‘Your duster is getting stuck’ I said….then I waited.
‘It’s too sticky’ Ellen replied.
‘You need to dust with something else’ I prompt. More pausing.
‘You need to brush it’ Ellen finally says.
‘Yes!’ I cried, ‘that’s a great idea, if we brush it the dust will come off straight away.’
At this point Ellen walked away purposefully and I was secretly glowing inside. She’s gone to get the brush I thought, waiting with growing anticipation. Well, I waited and waited for a couple of minutes until I could hear the unmistakeable sound of Hide and Seek Woozle being vapourised by piglet. I had been abandoned. Ah well, baby steps.