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OhE, would you tell us about how you use workers with your DS?


Pegs
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Please?

 

I'm employing a couple of uni students to get me some respite twice a week, and I want to really make the most of DS having this focussed time and attention with these energetic young people.

 

I know you have things you're working on with a behaviorist, and you get your workers on board with the Plan. Something about learning when to lead and when to follow? How do I learn more about this? Is this a social thinking thing?

 

You structure the sessions in advance, right? And send work packets? What goes in these? What is the goal?

 

Could you tell me more generally about your goals for your DS, and how your employment of workers is helping?

 

Happy to PM if you'd prefer - I'd just really appreciate your input if you're happy sharing the nuts and bolts, iykwim.

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We do not currently have workers, sigh. Moving on from that is good in some ways and a challenge in others. Since you have the opportunity to do it, YES do it!!!

 

We were working on behavior (compliance, self-regulation) first and foremost. We had social goals and language goals. I was exhausted. I had pneumonia and bronchitis back to back last school year and pneumonia a calendar year before. Turned out I have asthma. Now that I have no workers like that, my house is slowly creeping up, ugh.

 

These people are not magicians, and what I found is it wasn't like so and so was so much BETTER than me. They were just fresher, maybe more energetic at a given time of day. But I had to be realistic. Like if I'm 40 and I can't do it, then maybe a college student can't make it happen either. So we had to be realistic. If we're working on compliance and self-regulation, we AREN'T doing astonishing academics. We're going to be doing idiot-proof, open and go stuff. Things like:

 

-doodling using workbooks from Timberdoodle

-simple workbooks that you can get from TCR, Evan Moor, Carson Dellosa, etc. (be picky!) where you hand one sheet at a time

-read alouds (picture books, poetry, partner reading, anything he can comprehend)

-games

-imaginative play

-outdoor play

-game play

 

You see the proportion there?

 

I have to hit the hay. You can ask more questions. The goals were what his behaviorist set, but it was stuff like using your tools to stay calm, group plan (there is one, don't just walk out of the house because we actually do have a plan), realizing sometimes it's not a choice not to do something and that we're really going to stay here and do it, working with a list and some structure, using our language to express choices and the need for break, noticing how other people feel about our behaviors, learning some give and take in play and appropriate/expected play behaviors.

 

My ds is still pretty eyebrow raising to work with. You can have a lot of opinions on things and there are ways this backfires. Like what consequences do your workers REALLY have? None. But what does your b&w dc conclude? That NOBODY has consequences. And reality is Mama ain't taking that. So I finally had to undo some of that and say hey, I'm not the worker. We then let the worker go. Now we don't have one. (long story)

 

It was an important stage for us and I don't think it's something I would undo. My ds would have been astonishing to teach, with or without the help.

 

If you have the $40K+ a year to go to an autism school, sure, knock yourself out. But even there you can have idiot, low level aides. I'm not meaning to be impolite. I'm just saying I visited a school and the room they would have placed my ds in, and what we had going was MUCH higher quality. I especially value LANGUAGE skills in the workers. They need to share who they ARE and be prepared to TALK. If someone is going to sit there, totally non-verbal while they play games, what value is that? My kid can already do that, lol. But I had a worker who would tell stories about his siblings and how he handled certain feelings. It made a big impression on ds!

 

RDI is another good one where you could pick a goal for the week. But really, it's very, very hard to handle challenging behaviors AND be innovative and dynamic. Be realistic and don't expect that. Give them idiot-proof, open and go things that they can succeed with. I like stuff from Timberdoodle.

Edited by OhElizabeth
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Ok, another thing. I had a whiteboard for the worker to write out their schedule. Once we had a good gig going, I tried to have continuity with what they were doing and I was doing. Ds can't handle a lot of jumping. Now what I do is file folders for worksheets. We alternate preferred activities and file folders. It sets up a routine that ANYONE can pick up and use, and he's used to it. He needs that continuity. You wouldn't think the order of the academics would matter, but for him it really was rattling. 

 

It's just stuff to think through. It's ok to have some trial and error, lol.

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Also you can have them make happen tedious things that maybe you want to have happen but aren't getting done. As long as they're pairing it with highly preferred stuff, it can be fine! So handwriting, doing boring therapy tasks like Mighteor (hint, hint, get Mighteor), exercises for PT/OT or dyspraxia (so long as they're not agitating or uncomfortable), anything like that.

 

I'm not saying have a ton of tedious, but you probably have one or two grunt things like that, and sure pop it in there. 

 

I had one worker who was super, super brilliant with read alouds. She was like a girlfriend, so charming! He would do ANYTHING for her, oh my. :D

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Your behaviorist should be available by texting and should be meeting with them and training them. The more that happens, the better your workers will be with your dc. Otherwise, they're untrained and in the dark, kwim? 

 

Some behaviorists have curriculum or work with an Intervention Specialist to help you set up a plan. Honestly, now that I've had a couple IS out, I kinda thump myself that I didn't earlier. If you get a really good one, they can be really helpful! Of course, your own common sense and gut sense is good too. I just find there are so many pieces, threads we're working on, that it's really nice to have someone to bat that around with. As you move on from compliance to more instructional level work, you're going to want to find the holes and address them. Then you'll be wanting that person. You'll know when that happens. :)

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Thank you so much! I am literally taking notes.

 

I'll come back and ask questions, and might ask you to look over my plans, if you wouldn't mind?

 

We don't have a behaviourist, but there are a few things we could be working on, and I really feel like I need a *team* backing me up on some of the behavioural stuff I'm addressing with DS. I think having all the adults in his life on the same page, feeding him the same lines - that will really go a long way. And being a single parent, I have to go out of my way to actually *have* other adults caring for him, and assuming roles of responsibility and authority.

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A good behaviorist would be worth a lot to you. Who is doing Social Thinking with him?

 

Honestly I think you could have problems bringing in untrained people with no supervision, no insurance, no one to text when they have problems. Unless the adult is blood relative I wouldn't do that. Too dangerous on s lot of levels. Would you be there while they work?

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I just want to make clear I am NOT endorsing hiring people with no training or supervision and bringing them into your home. There is significant liability there. SIGNIFICANT.

 

OhE, maybe I'm being obtuse, but could you elaborate on this?

 

I've been thinking of hiring a local university student from the psych or sp ed departments to work with dd12. I'd planned on asking for references and doing a background check, and I would be present, at least until I felt like I knew the student and she was working well with dd.

 

The idea would be to find someone who could establish a mentor-like relationship with dd. Her BCBA was fabulous at this. It was so helpful just to have another person, one dd really liked and saw as younger and cooler than me, confirming to dd that those expectations I had were actually reasonable. Our funding for the ABA has run out, so no more BCBA, but I was hoping a student might form a similar relationship with dd.

 

I guess I had thought of the same sort of parameters I'd have for a babysitter, although I'd hope for some knowledge or interest in autism or special ed. Am I missing something?

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Ime some kids working with a BCBA have problem behaviors requiring liability insurance, a child could injure or be injured. That is how I read it. If those are totally not concerns then I don't know why else there would be a need for liability insurance.

 

What can happen sometimes is people use a word like "behavior" or "behaviors" and it is just a guess whether that means "my child is rigid, my child clams up when shy," type of things, or whether it means "my child sometimes has aggressive/destructive behavior." Or whatever else it might mean.

 

If you (or any of us) are used to saying "behaviors" when we talk to people and are used to it meaning xyz specific to our kids, it is hard to know what people mean on the Internet.

 

It is bizarre for me as it has gone from meaning my son had some "moderate" aggression to now it means he acts silly sometimes when he is asked a question.

 

Edit: plus you get into BCBAs using that word like "trait" and it can be a totally neutral word..... and then outside of ABA it is still "good and bad behavior" and can just mean "bad behavior."

Edited by Lecka
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To clarify - we don't have any aggression or otherwise dangerous behaviours. I'm not worried about liability, and the workers I'm employing have already been caring for DS regularly for over a year.

 

The biggest behavioural things we're working on at home are eating in different settings, compliance with a schedule, and leaving clothes on to go to the toilet. We're getting OT support with that last one.

 

These are the things for which I'd like back-up from other adults.

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