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Tuesday, January 31, 2012

I'm Going to Count To Three

I mentioned this to someone (Karen V) today, and thought maybe it was something I should write down in blog form, if not for others to read, at least for me to read and help me remember.  


Lily doesn't answer sometimes when we address her or ask her to do things.  And I guess not even just "not answer", but sometimes she doesn't appear to pay any notice whatsoever to her surroundings to look up, or comply, or respond in a timely fashion.  (Put quotes around that last little bit.  It's important for later)


Sometimes she's focused on something.  Perhaps it's the TV, or a book, or looking at a doll, but sometimes she doesn't appear to be doing anything at all.  As parents, or a parent (I'll speak for myself), I will find myself getting frustrated when my repeated attempts to get Lily's attention appear to be in vain.  And I have to remember something our last wrap psychologist said about taking data for redirecting Lily's attention in the school setting, and how to categorize whether it's successful.


She said, "Wait three seconds before repeating a command, or her name.  If she doesn't respond in three seconds, that's an unsuccessful attempt."  So for a while when I'd call Lily, I'd count the seconds in my head before calling her again.  As time has gone by I've gotten a bit out of the habit, but it really does work.  


Vun!  Two!  Three!  Three Mississippi!
Three seconds seems like a ridiculously long time when you're waiting for her to turn her head and look at you, or do what you ask, but when the wait is rewarded by her compliance?  Well, it seems just about the right speed.  


So, Instead of repeating the command or her name three times in rapid succession, growing increasingly frustrated over her failure to register, I try to remember to count to three, and sometimes. . . maybe even a most of the time, she'll drag her attention away from whatever it was and focus or comply.


Last night I gave her a bath.  I'd washed her hair, conditioned it, and rinsed it off, and I was ready to lather her up and wash her legs, so I needed her to stand.  I get the soap all lathered up, and if I can't get her to stand, then by the time I pick her up, all soaking wet, most of the soap is rinsed off and I have to hurry and do it again before she returns to the warmer confines of the bathwater.


"Stand up, please, Lily," I said.  She was playing with her new bath doll, Belle and paid me no attention.


"Please stand up, Lily," I said again almost immediately, but this time I remembered to count.  I think I was already slowly ramping up into irritation that I'd have to pick her up again but caught myself.  I counted in my head. One thousand one, one thousand two, one thousand thr- and she levered herself up and stood for me.


I heaped praise on her (she was an exceptionally good girl all night, and soooo tired), lathered her up, and then had to support her a little as she tried to escape back into the warm water before I had her all done, and she giggled because she's ticklish, and so I lathered her up a little more just to hear her giggle a little more, before she wriggled free from my soapy grasp and settling contentedly back into the water.


I do find a much greater rate of success capturing her attention and getting compliance when I give her "a little time" to process.  Three seconds seems like a lot when you first say her name and start to wait.  Three seconds seems saucy . . . hell, it seems like gross insubordination from my older NT daughter, Emma.  But three seconds is no time at ALL to wait for success from Lily.  Win-win.  I get compliance and giggles, she gets praise and tickles.




32 comments:

  1. Such a great reminder. I am seriously guilty of repeating their name so many times that they don't want to respond to me at all!

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    1. Have you seen the episode of Family Guy where Stewie repeats Lois's name about a thousand times? Funny.

      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cNkp4QF3we8

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  2. As much as I love Count von Count, I am not sure I needed him stuck in my head for, most likely, the rest of the evening! My daughter's name is Lily and I think she pretty much just ignores me at 11 years old, but I am going to try counting just the same (but will probably get distracted...one, one distracted mother...ah, ah, ahhhhhhh)

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    1. the three seconds seems unnaturally long.

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  3. I love that you shared this as a post! It is different how they have to have that extra processing time to respond. I read once that in autism, there are a lot of brain connections (I think neurons but I'm no scientist and I'm going by memory - poor here) that NT kids brains , lop off as they grow out of infancy that our kids keep. It seems like our kids have to get through a lot more wiring to process a thought. . . or it could be "inattention" or it could be something like ADHD... In any event, whatever the reason, pausing before repeating certainly lets us know whether there is reception on the other end of the line and that's reason enough to wait. for. it. :)

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    1. I think I forget about it because sometimes she pays attention immediately. Other times, she needs that extra processing time.

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  4. My brother and sister-in-law would say, "Eric, say what", and Eric would look at them and say "what"...nobody ever got upset, and Eric didn't even notice that he was taken away from a favorite activity.

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  5. Good stuff. I saw your comment about the 3 seconds on Karen's blog and it reminded me that I've been told to do the same thing with my Lily. Her brain just seems to need those few extra seconds to process the information and carry out the request. And I'll admit that when I remember to count, I'm more patient because I'm not focused on expecting an immediate response.

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    1. I'm more patient when i remember too, and I have greater success, which means i get even MORE patience. . . now if only my memory wasn't failing. . .

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  6. Love this. You are such a great dad. I love that you make her giggle. Those are some of my favorite memories from my childhood of my dad - he loved to make me laugh, and would go to great lengths to make me do so. (Still does. Some things never change.)

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  7. Really interesting tip -- I'd never heard it before and I'm definitely going to give it a try!

    We actually have a tip written out on the family chalk board to stop asking after three tries and just go hand-over hand. It's a verbal-visual processing switch-over that our behavioral therapist recommended due to Little Miss's communication disorder.

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    1. It's funny, but I JUST read a similar post about the processing time HERE: http://www.squidalicious.com/2012/02/wait-for-it.html

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  8. Heh, would you believe that it usually takes that long for my husband to respond to me half the time? His level of focus is seriously intimidating. And sometimes he's so focused that he really and truly doesn't even hear me speak to him, even when I'm standing right beside. It's taken years for me to not freak out about it any more and know that it's not personal. But back to you, since this is *your* blog... ;-) I'm happy you got those extra gigglss. There's no better reward for your patience and understanding!

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  9. It definitely takes Jack three seconds, usually even longer. He's especially prone to saying "What?" if he didn't have time to process what was being said. Not that he didn't HEAR it, he didn't process it. So ... I don't need to repeat it *louder*, I need to *slow* it down. Good to see you over here, Jim!

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    1. over. . . here? I'm always over here. Good to see YOU over here!

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    1. I'd be really interested in hearing how it works for you.

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  11. I always did this with my dad. He was always reading, and when I'd talk to him, I'd wait because I knew he was finishing reading a sentence or it just hadn't quite registered. He almost always responded within a few seconds. He had ADD (so do I, and I'm the same way).

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    1. I'm sort of amazed at all the people who have found this to be useful in their lives and how I could be so ignorant of it prior to this psychologist mentioning it with regard to Lily.

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  12. Great post. Thanks for sharing. I both work in the field and am a parent of a child with Autism (sheer coincidence). One thing I always try to tell parents is that because many children with Autism have slower processing when it comes to language, just by saying their name a second time they have to start the whole thing over in their heads from the start. If you give them the time upfront you'll likely get results sooner. I think all children are born wanting to please their parents. Noncompliance in a child with Autism is likely that the message is getting hung up somewhere rather than them "ignoring you" outright. They just can't always do it. Thanks again for the reminder to give them time. I'm guilty of it too.

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    1. Thank you! Now I just need to remind myself of it.

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  13. Okay, first of all I saw your comment on your first note and have to say that I love Family Guy and that Stewie video cracks me up. I tend to post a lot of Family Guy videos on my Facebook page and most people are like, "???" What? Stewie is hilarious.

    Second, sometimes Tommy won't respond to me. Or lately he's been like, "WHAT?" all annoyed. Well excuse me for letting you know dinner is ready.

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  14. Thank you so much for posting this. It is a great reminder. I am the mother to "A Girl, Her Dog, and Aspergers Syndrome" Sometimes as parents, we get caught up in the task we are wanting to complete and forget to give that precious processing time. I find this happens to me most often when we are in the car. My girl will give me "her look" and I will remember. So, I give her time and we generally have success.

    My girl follows your blog and she told me I just "had" to come and take a look at this post when "you can find the time Mom". LOL I do believe I'll try to find the time to drop in more often.

    Take care and have a wonderful weekend!

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    1. Yay! Thanks for stopping by and reading! I "know" Chloe from Lydia's blog Autistic Speaks. I haven't heard from her in a while, I'm excited she still drops by from time to time.

      I need the reminders all the time, for myself. The older I get, the less I remember, and I'm not super patient to begin with. . . but Lily's teaching me to get better! :)

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  15. :-) Jim, as time goes by you will become more and more patient - at least that has been my experience. And, the bonus is that it helps in all areas of life.

    Chloe is a serious blog flollower :-) Luckily she tells me which ones are a *must read*. I am so thankful for all bloggers - they have helped me learn much and become a better parent.

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  16. I'm going to have to try that. One of my biggest peeves is when I talk to my son & he seems to be ignoring me. It drives me absolutely bonkers. I can't even totally explain why it bothers me so much - I know he has fantastic hearing. His verbal comprehension is advanced. Is it so freaking hard to tell me that you're all done with your waffle?????? Ugh. I must try the 3 second rule. Along with a stronger dose of my happy meds. But that's besides the point.

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