You may have noticed that Ellen has an obsession with cakes at the moment. Well – with eating them anyway. I thought I’d harness this enthusiasm and on the RDI ‘same but different’ theme have a go at making some bird seed cakes with her.
I found a very simple recipe on the RSPB website http://www.rspb.org.uk/discoverandenjoynature/families/children/makeanddo/activities/birdcake.aspx and set about planning the activity, using a new planning template which helps me to really focus on my current objective (which is for Ellen to notice and react to my level of engagement).
I wanted this to be a real experience sharing activity that with a focus on mutual enjoyment; so I made sure that all the ingredients and tools were out on the table in advance – I didn’t want to dilute the objective by spending time collecting the items together. This proved to be a wise move, although stabbing the yoghurt pots with a pencil to create a hole (as the method suggests) failed miserably and so I had to shuffle off at one point for some sissors, but only after Ellen and I had had a good laugh at the concertainering pots!
It turned out be be a great activity:-
1. Ellen not only noticed when I yawned and sighed (to indicate my waning enthusiasm) but she immediately pretended to squirt me with water to wake me up.
2. I hadn’t expected her to handle the suet/bird seed mix at all as she dislikes getting her hands messy, but with the gloves on she did attempt it.
3. It was quite a long activity – 25 minutes – and she remained engaged throughout and even stayed on to make a human cake with me afterwards (although that is perhaps not so surprising given her current cake addiction).
In fact, the whole thing went so well that I suggested to Ellen that we play a joke on Daddy.
‘Ask him if he would like a delicious slice of cake’ I suggested, ‘he’ll say “yes please”, but instead of giving him a slice of chocolate cake you could put one of the bird seed cakes on a plate and give it to him!’
Ellen looked at me as if I were mad ‘you can’t give Dad a bird cake’ she said ‘he is not a bird’. I couldn’t fault her logic. Ellen does like a joke, but her sense of humour is more slapstick than practical. Perhaps it’s the whole autism Sally-Anne thing going on http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sally%E2%80%93Anne_test – or perhaps she just thinks that her mother is rather strange….?
Of course by the time the bird seed cakes had cooled in the fridge Ellen had completely lost interest in them and although she did eventually come out into the garden with me to hang them up, she made it very clear that she would rather be watching Arnold telling Max on the Tweenies that his face is like a squashed tomato….at least she’s stopped telling me that my face is like a squashed tomato…for now.