Saturday, 19 July 2014

The Adventures of Kevin the Nintendo Part II

You'll be delighted to hear that Kevin the Nintendo made it fine to DS Land to be repaired. We received a call saying that they'd received him ok and we dutifully told Bobby.

"What's the error?" he asked me one morning.
"We don't know yet. One of three things will happen. Either he will be cheap to fix. Or he'll be expensive to fix. Or he won't be fixable, but if we can't fix him Dad will save your games so that you won't lose them. So even if the worst comes to the worst, you won't lose your games."

"Ahhh, ok."

After the initial flash flood of emotion over his DS, Bobby has become surprisingly philosophical about it.

Then we manage to lose a game that he was playing on his 2DS. I search the entire house, looking under mattresses, behind furniture, down the back of sofas...I'm aware that his emotions are delicately balanced right now and he could do without another valuable loss. I can't find the damm thing. The following day I am rummaging round my handbag for my phone and the game appears. I have no idea how it got in there.

Nintendo phone to say that the fault is theirs and is fixable quite cheaply (yay!) and that their repairs come with a 12-month guarantee. They estimate 3-5 days on the repair job.

A few years ago, this would have meant a constant nag for precisely 3-5 days. But as Bobby has matured, he's started to find his own ways of coping with problems. Saturday morning sees him watching Nintendo 3DS adverts on You Tube, where they feature a metallic blue one exactly like his own. "Ah, this is bliss!" he says.

Watching his 3DS on an advert is just the same as looking at it. And if he's looking at it, it's still here.

Wednesday, 16 July 2014

The Adventures of Kevin the Nintendo 3DS

Hi, I'm Kevin, I'm Bobby's Nintendo 3DS and I've been asked to write a guest blog for Spectrumite Mum. She's busy pulling her hair out in the next room.

Some time ago, I began to feel unwell. There could be a number of reasons for this. Chief among them I suspect was being dropped about ten times.

Anyway, I've been connecting to the internet fine and then all of a sudden, blam, nothing. And Bobby, like everyone, didn't sweat it because his Dad tends to fix everything. Well his Dad couldn't fix me.  So Bobby did what any sensible autistic kid would do. He threw a massive wobbler. Temporarily he decided that he was never going to look another screen in the face again. He sort of backtracked on that one.

Anyway, Dad has packed me up with a special note that says something along the lines of 'Bloody hurry up with this, Nintendo...' and I'm off to Nintendo to be fixed!

Not any old postage either, not me. I'm being sent SPECIAL DELIVERY! Ooooh but I do feel a bit sick in this van. Hope I get a bit of a rest in the hospital bed at the other end.

Tuesday, 8 July 2014

Alec's New Direction

Ah, I've just realised that I haven't updated you on the 'pinching' and that I promised to tell you how Alec's getting on. So I will tell you.

The first thing to note is, having a knowledge of autism doesn't necessarily mean you can get to the bottom of any issue. It's just the more I learn about autism, the more options I seem to have to choose from.

Alec turning from a placid angel to a pinching pixie/chief torturer has had me puzzled, especially as his strangulation attempts seem to be aimed at me, and I'm usually pretty popular with him. I've whittled it down to these reasons. Any one or all of them could be true:

1) Good news, he's not placid and he doesn't want to put up with any crap any more. From anyone. Including me, or anyone who tries to tell him what to do. This, my friends, is the motivation to talk. Okay, so this more assertive conversation starts off with pinching and strangling. But let's not call that a bad thing - basically as long as I'm still here to witness his next development spurt I'm happy.

2) Ladies and gentleman, the teenager has landed. I thought I had a window of roughly three years until I had the SEN equivalent of Kevin the Teenager but nope he's decided that ten is the new 13. So instead of knuckles hitting the ground and 'Ugh - I hate you!' I get a little pinch instead. It's Kevin the Teen with Autism and Learning Difficulties.

3) Placid little angel has turned into devil incarnate for no particular reason. That doesn't really happen - does it?

4) Happy feelings on seeing me are becoming so overwhelming that he's just got to strangle me, because his proprioceptive sense is all over the shop and to him this feels like hugging. He doesn't know his own strength.

5) He gets a sensory kick out of pinching me. Have replaced me with Play Doh but a large amount of that got eaten, although it did seem to help.

I tried the 'pinching isn't a good idea board' (below) and it didn't make a blind bit of difference. It made me feel better, because I knew he understood the message. He just chose to ignore it.

His home school book started to arrive back home with less than complimentary comments about how Alec had been that day. I'm used to my little darling getting ten stars for best behaved boy. "Alec a bit grumpy today, pinching again." Given his teacher's knack of understatement  (based on years of seeing the positive in everything) this roughly means: "Today, this kid is a little Psycho."

Another summit meeting with Tori resulted in the idea that Alec simply didn't have enough ways of saying 'No'.

So I made him a 'No' board. This had lots of symbols to say that he wasn't happy, like 'Leave me alone', 'I don't like it' 'I don't want it' and 'I'm angry'.

Most of these symbols are rather confusing if you don't understand the word written above them. Tori, who runs a support agency for autistic kids, said she showed some of the support workers a collection of symbols with no words on them. Most of them didn't know what the heck they meant. So, using Alec's new Talkboard app, I uploaded the symbols with a voice, so that at least he'd know what some of those strange pictures were on about.

My 'I'm ANGRY!' was particularly impressive and he chortled away whilst pressing it repeatedly. But he didn't really show much interest in using it. Pinching is far more immediate and rewarding.

Eventually a kid in class clobbered him back and he started getting the hint that pinching maybe wasn't the best way of telling people what you wanted.

But it's funny how Alec's pinching (and jerky movements, which we thought might be the onset of epilepsy) has calmed down considerably since I've been feeling a bit less stressed. Alec picks up on my mood like noone else and I've no doubt this had something to do with it.

Now I've got over the original shock of Alec being more physical, I am beginning to see it as a good thing. It might not be my top choice for communication, but it's communication nonetheless. It's Alec imposing his choices on the world. Well done Alec! Sort of.

So, a few days after the pinching calmed down, the Connect 4 'thing' started. Alec's repetitive behaviour of choice is to twiddle. He's an expert twiddler and likes focusing on the things that he's least allowed to twiddle.

The last couple of days, the twiddling has diminished and in comes Connect 4. We don't play Four In A Row. Alec doesn't really get that whole idea. But he gets a huge kick out of patiently filling it up with counters and then upending the thing and watching them all fall out again. I don't know whether it's the colours, the noise, the satisfaction, but I don't care. It's doing his motor skills a load of good and it's the perfect game for two!

Sitting opposite him, I start off by handing him counters. Then I offer to put one in and his fist nods 'Yes' - I'm allowed to do that. He is not bothered by my artistic efforts at various colour combos. He is happy to have a helper, though. I repeat his little noises, including one that sounds like 'there'. I point out where a counter has rolled away and he goes to get it. We are having a great time, and I couldn't give a stuff whether he gets the purpose of the game at all. We are sitting opposite each other, playing together. We've rolled Play Doh together and played in sand...but this is different. It feels like a game. There are turns being taken. A bit like when we play his marble run together, but in this case we are making something together. We are heading towards a joint result.

What's happening is that Alec's downtime is starting to include me and it's got a focus and a purpose.

So maybe, when we come out the other side of this new-look Alec, we will see that even the steps that looked like they were heading backwards, were actually just paving a brand new pathway.