I mentioned a few blogs ago that we were going to work on some more Independence skills. I asked my fellow bloggers/readers for suggestions regarding when they started leaving their children alone for periods of time. I received some wonderful advice and to everyone. . . thank you.
I realized that the biggest concern with leaving Daniel, which is a HUGE one, would be his lack of using the phone. His outside group speech therapist worked on phone skills last year and she did get him to actually TALK on the phone which, believe me, was amazing. At the time if you tried to hand him the phone to "say hi to dad" he'd cover his ears and run away screaming. Now he will chat, as well as he can. The problem is that he had never made an actual call, nor had he ever answered the phone. Both very obvious skills needed to stay home alone. Since Daniel himself has requested a shift in that direction, I decided that there was no time like the present to start slowly working in that direction.
Last week an "opportunity" arose. OK it was a problem in my book. My husband had a meeting to go to in the evening for the 3rd count them, 3rd time that week and I had book club. Doesn't sound to earth shattering, but my monthly cocktails, I mean book club is my girl time. I didn't want to miss it. Cocktail hour, I mean book club starts at 7:00 and Todd did not have to be to his meeting until 8:30. It was to be short, 30 to 45 min or so. Book club was across the street. Perfect. Zachary would be home and if anything caught on fire he'd call my cell or run across the street. Time for a test run.
I went to book club, Todd went to the meeting. If I didn't hear from my husband by 9:00 I was to leave and get them settled down for bed. I, of course, didn't hear from him so I had to run home. All went well, I was home for 15 min. and then Todd arrived. Pretty good trial for making everyone feel a bit comfortable, including me.
Then Saturday I needed to drop my husband and Zachary off for an outing with friends. There was no way this would take more than 5 minutes so I told Daniel he could stay home IF he answered the phone when I called. Ah ha. Bribery, I mean, reward! I dropped them off and on the way home, gave Daniel a call. It rang once, and click, he answered, but he didn't say anything.
Me- Daniel, are you there?
D- yes mom, hi!
Me- Everything ok?
Me- OK I'll be home in a minute. Great job answering the phone! Hang up by pushing the red button.
I arrived home and it surprised me that Daniel wasn't in the family room. I called out to him. Not in the basement. Called again. He was in his room. He came running down the stairs at me. VERY EXCITED.
Me- What were you doing Daniel?
D- I was telling Mickey about answering the phone.
Me- Really, do you tell Mickey other things?
D- Yes, everything.
As I suspected. I have overheard many "conversations" in Daniel's room through the door. He seems to be sharing everything with "his little pal Mickey". While this is very dear, it is interesting because I really think he is practicing his conversation skills too. Mickey answers back in a perfect Mickey Mouse voice via Daniel, so he is taking on both sides of the conversation.
I asked Daniel's autism consultant at a meeting today what she thought and she pointed out that it is normal development. All little kids use stuffed animals as props, talk through them and to them. They just aren't normally 5'4" 150 pound 12 year olds. I realized that of course she was right. His newly developing skills are coming out how everyone else's do, just very delayed. For now I'm happy that Daniel has Mickey as a sounding board, someone to pratice with, and someone to share his accomplishments with.
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