Princess Ky Background - The cutest blog on the block

Friday, November 25, 2011

Giving Thanks - An Autism Experience

In the month of November, we focus on giving thanks. 

I attempted to teach Kylie this important lesson, but very quickly ran into some roadblocks that were placed in our path by Autism.  This post will focus on how we plowed through those roadblocks and learned an important lesson about giving thanks.

Dispersed among this post will also be some recent fall pics - enjoy!! 
(I am an amateur, but I sure enjoy photography)
Our Lil' Pumpkin
On November 1st, Kylie awoke to find her new fall themed sensory box.  You can read about it (and see it) here.  I also began the day talking to Kylie about Thanksgiving and what it means to give thanks.

Happy Fall Day
As giving thanks is such an abstract concept, I knew I would have to provide examples so I told Kylie that some kids are thankful for their toys and some kids are thankful for their mom and dad and then I asked Kylie what she was thankful for. 

Without hesitating, Kylie answered "My house". 

I have to tell you that her answer brought tears to my eyes as we have been fighting to keep our house since my husband lost his job last October.  To hear that our simple home is precious to her touched me deeply. 
Kylie and her scarecrow buddy

Admiring all the colorful leaves - God's creation is so breathtaking!!

So, on November 2nd, I asked her again what she was thankful for?  She again answered "My house".  I knew then that Kylie was having a hard time with the concept of "giving thanks" being so abstract.  She thought there was only one correct answer to the question.
A "Kylie Size" pumpkin!
So, I talked to Kylie's Speech Therapist, Julie, and got her advice on how to help Kylie understand better that there can be more than one answer to the question of "What are you thankful for?"

Julie suggested that we make cards of things that Kylie really enjoys and also include cards of things that Kylie does not enjoy and then let her pick each day something she is thankful for.

I told Julie that I knew that would be what she told me but that I was a little disappointed as I really wanted the question to be open ended.   I was so curious as to what Kylie would say. 

Julie explained that open ended questions are really difficult for children with autism, but that maybe after several days of  choosing pictures, the idea of what it all meant would "click" for Kylie and by the end of the month, she might start thinking of things on her own.
Here we are together! 
We don't often have pics together as I am usually the one behind the camera! 

So, we created cards of things she likes:
Candy Corn, Chocolate, Tigger (her cat), Grandparents, Veggie Tales, Disney on Ice, Popsicles, Smelly Markers, Aqua Sand, Climbing, Going to the park, Barbies, Mom and Dad, Pizza Ranch and etc

So happy together!!
And we created cards of things she doesn't like:
Baths, loud noises, babies crying, broccoli, bright lights, elevators, flash on a camera, and etc

I love how in all three pics, Kylie has such a different expression!

Then we created a blank calendar where we could post each days picture selection so Kylie had a visual of what she is thankful for (and doesn't repeat the things she has already said).

Each day we ask Kylie what she is thankful for. She can either choose from the pictures we have created, or she can tell us something else.  It has been really neat to see what she chooses to be thankful for. 

Julie was right.  At first, Kylie stuck to the pictures but as time went on, she began to look around the room and select other things. 

A few of the things she has been thankful for are: House, Thanksgiving, Toys, Mom and Dad, TV, "Me", Ipad, Tigger, Car, Barbies and etc.

It has been really neat to watch her acquire knowledge and understanding of the abstract concept of "Giving Thanks". 

I am so thankful for the team of people who surround us on this journey of experiencing Autism.  God has been so good to place just the right people in our family's circle of influence!

Kylie is thriving because of her loving family, therapists, doctors, counselors, respite providers and our friends.

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