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Helps for harnessing stims

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    Helps for harnessing stims

    We started SC last year for our now 6 year old son with classic autism. He is low-verbal. We are preparing to start level b. I have read the forum posts regarding attention and focus and the tips are great. However, our son's stimming goes well beyond a lack of focus. We do OT and other therapies , large amounts of sensory focused outside time, a heavy sensory diet and all other methods that are typical (and non typical) for kids like our son. His main issue is verbal and vocal stimming while reading and sometimes a hard time looking at a book and listening simultaneously while being read to.(the visual and auditory processing seems to have a hard time working together .) He loves books so that isn't the issue. Any recommended books or ideas to prepare as we start the school year?
    Thank you.

    #2
    Re: Helps for harnessing stims

    Oh, boy -- been there. My response will be short for now but detailed later in the day.

    Short version: be diligent and persevere. Give him breaks when he needs them (and you take breaks when you need them). Attention is a habit with ASD kids. You are developing that habit. Most of that development just comes through repetition and consistency. There is no magic bullet. However, DO NOT LOSE HEART! This approach definitely pays off! My son was nonverbal until the age of five and could not engage for longer than a about 30 uninterrupted seconds when we began homeschooling. Now he's reading books all the time -- by himself! I do not know your son's specific struggles or whether or not this will be the outcome for him. But I can share what we did and what worked for us.

    Longer answer to come....

    <3
    Boy Wonder: 10, MP2/SC4 (Special Needs)
    Joy Bubble: 8, MP2 (Special Needs)
    Snuggly Cowboy: 6, MPK
    Sweet Lightness: 2, Reverse-Engineering Specialist

    “Have no fear of moving into the unknown. Simply step out fearlessly knowing that I am with you, therefore no harm can befall you; all is very, very well. Do this in complete faith and confidence.”
    ~Pope St John Paul II

    Comment


      #3
      Re: Helps for harnessing stims

      Good morning!

      Do you have a favorite therapist who sees your son? You might explain your goal of attending to a book visually and aurally for 10 sec (or whatever length), and see how the therapist suggests working on this in a manner consistent with existing plans to extinguish, redirect, or allow stimming behaviors.

      Of my twins, my daughter exhibited (and exhibits) more classic hand-flapping and other characteristics. She received sensory therapies from toddlerhood, but when we began homeschooling, the OT shifted to including our academic goals. In a similar way, your therapist might be willing to integrate some of your Level A or B read-alouds into sessions for practice. She might work with hands first, perhaps with calming theraputty or squeeze balls while listening. Or she might address vocalizing first. You can guide her decision with your own requests.

      You gave a very clear explanation here, so you will make a strong partner with the therapists. Consider yourself an equal part of his team now, even if you were not before, and see if they have specific suggestions based on everything they see in therapy.

      Other tips:
      1. Determine a baseline. How long can he attend now without a verbal or physical tic/stim? Start there and build, even if you record only 2-3 seconds.

      2. Use whatever verbal cues work for you in other settings. "Quiet listening now" or "Hands in lap" or "Hands down."

      3. Consider tiny incentives, if this works for your son. "Good quiet listening!" Or "Good work keeping your eyes on our story!" plus a tangible reward, if needed.


      It is a tough balance between letting the child calm himself and wanting to help him gain self-control. Before implementing anything more intensive than the above, I would be interested to hear what his best therapists say.

      Comment


        #4
        Re: Helps for harnessing stims

        I really recommend the book "Uniquely Human." I haven't read it all, but I'm in the process of it. Understanding why your son stims may help you work around the stims, without actively stopping them.
        Caveat: I'm not pro-ABA, at this point in our journey (you never know where you'll land years from now, eh?) or "quiet hands" and my book recommendations reflect that.

        Comment


          #5
          Re: Helps for harnessing stims

          Thanks, Aimee.

          Julie, the full first chapter is available on Amazon for free reading. See what you think.

          Comment


            #6
            Re: Helps for harnessing stims

            Thank you for your responses. I have in fact read that book, it was one of the firsts I read after our son received his diagnosis 3 years ago. I think i am fairly well versed on understanding why stimming is necessary and the difference between calming stims and excitatory stims, although I am sure there are many books and articles I have missed and always more to learn.

            We have been working the past year with our OT on "attending." He can sit and attend on my lap or beside me on the sofa for 30 mins if it is something in which he is very interested . Sitting at a desk is extremely hard, so that span is 2 mins. (We are working on core strength to improve this for him.)

            The real issue is the vocal stimming during read alouds and recitations. He is with me physically but u can tell he is not there concerning auditory and visual attention.

            I will talk with our OT again on the subject. I did find a book "Harnessing Stims and Behaviors in Autism using the Rapid Prompting Method." It is a learning method that can be applied to any curriculum but is for older students beginning at age 8. Has anyone heard of this to apply to Simply Classical curriculums ?

            These questions may be too narrow for this forum so no problem if there are no clear answers here.
            Thank you for all of your input. The forum is most helpful!
            -Julie

            Comment


              #7
              Re: Helps for harnessing stims

              Originally posted by Juliepauldesign@gmail.com View Post
              Thank you for your responses. I have in fact read that book, it was one of the firsts I read after our son received his diagnosis 3 years ago. I think i am fairly well versed on understanding why stimming is necessary and the difference between calming stims and excitatory stims, although I am sure there are many books and articles I have missed and always more to learn.

              We have been working the past year with our OT on "attending." He can sit and attend on my lap or beside me on the sofa for 30 mins if it is something in which he is very interested . Sitting at a desk is extremely hard, so that span is 2 mins. (We are working on core strength to improve this for him.)

              The real issue is the vocal stimming during read alouds and recitations. He is with me physically but u can tell he is not there concerning auditory and visual attention.

              I will talk with our OT again on the subject. I did find a book "Harnessing Stims and Behaviors in Autism using the Rapid Prompting Method." It is a learning method that can be applied to any curriculum but is for older students beginning at age 8. Has anyone heard of this to apply to Simply Classical curriculums ?

              These questions may be too narrow for this forum so no problem if there are no clear answers here.
              Thank you for all of your input. The forum is most helpful!
              -Julie
              I've heard of the rapid prompt system, but I think I looked it over and decided it wasn't for us. (Same with ABA.) My children were just not a good fit for either system. I'm glad now that we didn't use either system. But these are my children. Talk to your OT or other Team member and get some feedback.

              On the bit I bolded:
              Your description is a bit vague here, but it sparked a little response in me (in the way I perceive it). Remember, I said "attention is a habit". Even if your son is vocally stimming and does not seem to be "with you" mentally, he will be eventually if you keep at it. Repetition, repetition, repetition. When we began homeschooling, my son had to have a fidget to attend to me at all and he only answered me in echolalia. I was, honestly, pessimistic about requiring him to do things like recitation or to sit still (for even a short period of time) and listen. But I followed the directions in the Lesson Plans.... IT. MADE. A HUGE. DIFFERENCE for my son.

              He's reading, writing, talking, answering questions, making connections... We still have a lot of work to do. But I am confident our perseverance will prevail.

              So don't give up.
              Boy Wonder: 10, MP2/SC4 (Special Needs)
              Joy Bubble: 8, MP2 (Special Needs)
              Snuggly Cowboy: 6, MPK
              Sweet Lightness: 2, Reverse-Engineering Specialist

              “Have no fear of moving into the unknown. Simply step out fearlessly knowing that I am with you, therefore no harm can befall you; all is very, very well. Do this in complete faith and confidence.”
              ~Pope St John Paul II

              Comment


                #8
                Re: Helps for harnessing stims

                Yes to Anita! Julie, have you seen her early video? If not, we will post here.

                You might also consider a thorough neurological evaluation, if your son has not yet had this.


                Clearly you are a well-read and determined mother! Please report back, especially if you find strategies that help. Your son's challenges are common challenges, so we can learn from what helps your son attend.

                It sounds like he is already making very good gains! Please keep us updated.

                Comment


                  #9
                  Re: Helps for harnessing stims

                  Anita,
                  Thank you. That is good encouragement to stay the course!! I will be viewing the video tonight!
                  Cheryl or Anita, how early should we have a Neuro eval done? I had heard not until 7 or 8? Is that your consensus or do you have yours done earlier?
                  Thank you again for the encouragement and support.
                  Julie

                  Comment


                    #10
                    Re: Helps for harnessing stims

                    Of course it depends on your insurance coverage and your own preference, but I was like you: I wanted all the information as soon as possible, so I could act upon it! If it were me, I would not wait.

                    My daughter's first full neuro eval was at age 3, because we could not obtain full answers without one. She had co-existing issues with ASD, such as a movement disorder, that the OT could not diagnose.

                    From that time forward, my daughter has been followed, treated, and helped immeasurably by good neurologists, first pediatric (age 3-21), and now adult. If you have access to a good pediatric neurologist, I can see no reason to wait, especially because you seem to take such an intelligent, objective, and pro-active approach to helping your son.

                    Comment


                      #11
                      Re: Helps for harnessing stims

                      Thank you both. I think i remember reading that in your book.
                      May I ask one more question and then we can all move on with our day? Our son had a short evaluation when he was 3 by a pediatric neurologist. Is this what you are referring to or something else.
                      Thank you both so much for your time. It has been most instructive and helpful. Prating for you both today.

                      Comment


                        #12
                        Re: Helps for harnessing stims

                        Thank you, Julie. And you may ask as many questions as you have!

                        Our first eval was not short, nor were subsequent appointments. I am certainly no neurologist, but because you are wanting to help your son with control of vocal/motor "stimming," it seems reasonable to evaluate for any movement disorders, neurological tics, or other possibly related neurological conditions. A good pediatric neurologist might want an EEG and, if your son has sleep disturbances as so many of our children do, possibly an overnight EEG and/or sleep study.

                        Over time, neurologists uncovered movement disorders and a sleep disorder for my daughter. They also confirmed "ADHD" and, when we were ready, helped with medical treatment for this. Not only did all of this assist with attending, safety, and self-control, but she (and we) finally began sleeping.

                        The possibilities are endless, but given your concerns regarding attention with a view to learning, and if you think you might want to pursue this, you might look for a neurologist who specializes in movement, vocal or motor tics, etc.

                        Comment


                          #13
                          Re: Helps for harnessing stims

                          Thank you Cheryl, that answered my question fully. Where can I find the video you mentioned earlier?

                          Comment


                            #14
                            Re: Helps for harnessing stims

                            I copied this excerpt from an earlier post by Cheryl. It can be found on the Struggling Learner page on a post by Anita titled Huge Brag on My Boy Wonder...

                            Anita has the distinct advantage of having videotaped some of those earlier struggles, along with his steps of growth along the way. For anyone reading this forum who has not seen Anita's first set of videos reduced to a 6-min (or so) clip, scroll to Changing Lives here, www.cherylswope.com. Then imagine this same young man reading more fluently AND answering questions about his reading.
                            Married to DH for 14 years. Living the rural life in the Colorado mountains

                            DS11- Simply Classical 5/6
                            DD9- Simply Classical 5/6 (neurotypical, but schooling with big brother to save mom's sanity)
                            DD 6- Classic Core First Grade

                            We've completed:
                            Classic Core Jr. kindergarten, kindergarten, first grade, and second grade.
                            Simply Classical levels B, C, 1, 2, 3, and 4.

                            Comment


                              #15
                              Re: Helps for harnessing stims

                              Thank you, that was encouraging.

                              Comment

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