Some posts are just going to be simpler than others. But something really surprising happened this afternoon.
Zach has been watching Sophie and I chew gum, so we gave him a piece yesterday, to which after 5 minutes of chewing, he swallowed. I told him "No swallowing! Spit! Spit it out!" I gave him another piece and only allowed him to chew it for 3 minutes, closely monitoring him, and Steve prompted him to spit it out and he did.
Cut to today. He requested a piece of gum. I gave him a piece and set the timer to ensure I could prompt. He walked over to Steve and on his own spit it into Steve's hand. He then requested another piece. I let him chew it for about 10 minutes, and then I asked him: "All done?" which he responded with a : "All done" and he spit the gum out again. My kid can chew gum! Cool!!!
So this probably seems like not big deal to some of you - but it is really cool I assure you. He got the concept while having limited language skills.
Now this brings up a concept that I might not have touched on before. When Zach attains a skill like this, I am sort of impressed with him - I know he is a capable kid (I have to admit something pretty pompous) I am in fact impressed with Steve and myself for figuring out a way to teach him. I am like "Oh my - we did that!? " You see if we were to translate Zach's disorder into something else, that might make you understand our situation better, so let me try.
Suppose Zach was blind - and I need to teach him to read. Now here is the kicker: Braille has not been invented yet. That is exactly the point we are at with Zach - we do not know quite yet what will work to teach him things, yet we know he is teachable- there are some best practices but no empirically proofed standards in this stuff, with the exception of ABA which really offers you a model of how to see if something is effective more than to provide the means to be effective. We don't want to just "try things" because that can take time and if it doesn't work in the end, then that is wasted time. We try to be as judicious about our approaches to teaching him as we are to everything else. Sometimes there is an element of flying by the seat of your pants in this stuff - we are, after all, in the wild wild west. That's what happens when science hasn't come to any decisions. (Sometimes I feel as though science has totally failed us... but that is another topic.)
But for today, my Zach chewed gum appropriately. Pretty cool don't you think?
Now that whole potty thing..... in the words of Charlie Brown "UUUUGGGGGGHHHHHHHHH!"