Improved Eye Contact
Q&A Session 3 with the Director of The Son-Rise Program
Topic: Improved Eye Contact
Q: Hello Bryn!
My name is Mikael Tuvesson. My son’s name is Johan. He’s 4 1/2 and autistic. My wife Ewa and I were at the Start-up in Rotterdam this January. It was a great experience! We were so full of the 3 Es when we came home. I started to make the playroom, made arrangements with my employer to work part time. Everything was going well. We started to spend time in the playroom with Johan. We set out to do 2 hours each and then a break and so on. At first we were joining “only”. Improved eye contact! Great we were on the right track. But now we seem to stay in the same spot, It’s really difficult to try to engage Johan to a game. It’s only biting, pulling hair and chewing on his own sweater that seems interesting now. If we just ignore him, trying to take something down to play with ourselves, not pushing him, he goes crazy. He grabs the toy and throws it back up on the shelf.
Another thing is that if I go into the playroom after Ewa, he doesn’t want to stay in anymore. He screams and tries to reach for the doorlock. I have been in there for more than 1 hour but he still wants to get out. I don’t feel so good in these moments. I try to think back on the week in Rotterdam but with every passing day, the 3 Es seem to fade.
I would be very pleased if you can give me a good thought.
Name: Mikael T. Country: UK Child: Johan, 4 1/2 Diagnosis: Autism
A: Dear Mikael,
Thank you for writing. The program in Rotterdam was very, very special for all of the staff and I am excited to hear that you have been able to begin the program and work with Johan in the playroom. It is natural, after time, to have new and different questions than you may have had at the Son-Rise Start-Up Program.
In terms of your question about his throwing objects and crying etc, In my last Q&A session I replied to Richard and Branka Novakovic (who took this same program with you in Rotterdam). Please do read the response. They ask a question about their daughter crying, and I gave them many suggestions and areas to explore in order to help with this. I believe most of what I wrote to them would directly apply to your situation.
I also think it is important for you to find ways to continually keep yourself excited and motivated for this program. Look back to the Manual which you recieved at the program you attended, read the book “Happiness Is A Choice”, listen to some of the audio tapes we have available: all of these things will help you to feel optimistic, upbeat and passionate about helping your son.
Allow these resources to support you.
In terms of offering games to Johan, be sure to consider:
Timing: Is he in the middle of an “ism” when you are offering this toy? Perhaps he is not involved enough with you in that moment to take an interest. Be aware of his attentiveness to you before offering games, it may be harder for him if he is less involved and easier to participate when he is more involved.
Persistence: If he pushes a toy away, or says “no” – I would respond and put it away. Then, I would wait a few minutes and offer something else, or the same thing again..I would persist!
What are you offering? Are the games being offered related to his natural interests? Perhaps you need to spend time as a team, discussing what he likes, his areas of motivation, and creating games and activities which relate. (For example: If he likes toys made of sponges: can we introduce letters and numbers cut from sponge material? If he likes trains, can we create a fun game where we throw a ball to each other and I give him a ride on my back like I am a train?) If you can offer items which include his interest, this will greatly increase his tendency to participate.
When he wants to go out of the room, I think the most important factor is how you are feeling. You had written that you do not feel that good during those moments; so I would start there. Really focus on knowing that he is doing the very best that he can. If he could do it more easily, he would. And you are doing your best too. Focus on the love you feel for your son and, although this may sound funny, don’t feel that you have to stop him from going to the door or even crying. You can be honest with him and explain what time the door will open. You can explain to him, “honey, even if you cry, the door isn’t going to open until _____”. Be aware of whether or not you might be moving quickly when he acts this way, or trying to get him away from the door in such a way that you might be more interesting than when he isn’t at the door. (Again, the list of questions in the other response would apply to this situation). You could even go to another part of the room and play by yourself for a while, and see if he comes over. Tell him you want to play with him and that you will start a game, and when he is ready, he can come and join you!
You can also call us for a consultation with one of our teachers to help you with this further, if that would be helpful for you and your family. Otherwise, know that your excitement for the playroom and belief in it – will truly make a difference for Johan.
Let us know if we can help you further.
With warmest regards,