My RDI activity at the moment is to try and encourage Ellen to make surprising, rather than predictable choices. Of course this is quite a biggy for someone with autism, who finds reassurance in the familiar.
We were on a bit of a loser from the start when Ellen chose to visit Whipsnade Zoo, one of her favourite haunts. An early surprise was to arrive and find the place invaded by cubs (and not the furry kind). The scout movement is celebrating its 100th birthday, so celebrations around the country for them and sidestepping around excitable groups of seven-year-olds for us.
Ellen has a very set agenda when visiting the zoo:-
(a) Go to the gift shop to purchase an overpriced toy animal to look around the zoo with her. The lady behind the till greets us like old friends and doesn’t require us to get our membership card out any more. If we are lucky, we can leave without Ellen trying to buy ‘a friend’ as well.
(b) Visit the bug centre (despite the fact that it is closing and slowly being emptied of all bugs).
(c) Bypass the bird show (should it be on). Today it was full of cubs which meant that my efforts to change her mind on this choice were minimal.
(d) Walk on via the underwater Sealion viewing area and hang around hopefully near the cafeteria hoping that it’s time for lunch (it wasn’t).
(e) Hopes dashed, either visit tigers and elephants or giraffes and zebras (today was option 2).
(f) Decide that lunch must be on the cards by now and walk as fast as she possibly can back to the cafe, leaving me trailing in her wake. All attempts at experience sharing; ‘ooh the flamingos are out’ and ‘is that an ostrich or an emu?’ studiously ignored.
(g) Once inside the cafe, order sausage and chips (additional vegetables are frowned upon), a strawberry flavoured drink and a slab of chocolate cake.
(h) Go home.
My attempts to get Ellen to choose something surprising went like this –
Me: ‘mashed potato or chips?’
Me: ‘Fish cakes or sausages’
Me: ‘pizza or sausages’
Ellen: ‘she said sausages!’
In fact the only surprising choice of the day was made by one of the giraffes, who decided he was thirsty and rather than drink water, chose instead to take a gulp from another giraffe’s stream of urine.
Ellen of course, thoroughly approved of this piece of dynamic thinking.