Feb 08, 2013 0 Share

Learning Skills

Close-up of man washing dishes at kitchen sink.

Now that I’m home full time with Cody, it has given me great opportunity to work with him more on the daily living skills he needs to learn.

Bill and I have always assisted him with showers, but more and more I have been relinquishing control to Cody. I’m finding I no longer have to worry about him using a half a bottle of shampoo on his hair and with some hand over hand assistance he’s learned to rub the shampoo in circles all over his head instead of just in one small area, leaving Bill or me to do the rest. He has also become quite insistent upon me only helping him wash his back. The rest he wishes to do himself.

Cody has graduated to doing many tasks with one prompt only. Taking his dirty laundry to the hamper, brushing his teeth, getting himself dressed in the morning and bringing his dirty dishes over to the kitchen counter are all pretty much routine now.  But there are still those things he needs broken down into steps.

I still have to verbally prompt Cody on each step of getting the dishes from the kitchen counter to the dishwasher, which goes like this:

  1. Ok, Cody. First we take the dish cloth.
  2. Then we turn the faucet to warm.
  3. Now we put the dish under the water and keep it there.
  4. Now use the dish cloth to wipe away the food on the plate.
  5. Now put it here, in the dishwasher.

During this process I must point to spots missed and sometimes it requires numerous prompts.

He has done fairly well at making his bed, but now we are working on perfecting his technique. This is something we are doing together for now. While Cody is on one side, I’m on the other. Again I make it a very specific process.

  1. Ok Cody, let’s pull the covers back and smooth out the sheet.
  2. Now let’s take the corner of the top sheet.
  3. Let’s pull it to the top.
  4. Pull it tight.
  5. Get the wrinkles out.
  6. Now take the corner of the blanket.
  7. Let’s pull it to the top.
  8. Pull it tight.
  9. Get the wrinkles out.

We repeat this process with the quilt and the comforter, and then we make sure the pillows are placed at the top, neatly.

Dusting is a bit more tedious. Once Cody has everything off of his dresser, it’s not so much of a problem. But for some reason getting him to understand that everything must be off the dresser to do it properly seems to be a bit of a hill to climb. I find I have to prompt him several times to take all of the items off before he begins dusting. I was pleasantly surprised however, that he recently used only a modest amount of polish. There have been times when we would have needed a bath towel to get all the polish off if someone were not available to say, “Ok! That’s enough!”

We’re still working on making a telephone call. Sometimes it takes several tries to punch in Bill’s cell phone number. And patience to push only one number at a time is something that causes Cody frustration but he’s getting a little better at it each time he does it.

I don’t find it difficult teaching Cody these tasks and from where I stand I feel it’s fairly plain to see he learns quite well through daily repetition. But, one skill where he seems to have a huge hurdle to clear is the art of communication with others. He understands what others tell him. And he talks all the time—sometimes nonstop for hours. But others have no clue what he means when he speaks.

Our meeting with Cody’s service coordinator at the learning facility I spoke of in previous columns was pushed back. But it appears that speech pathology sessions are out of the question at this time. Even on a sliding scale they are more expensive than what we can afford, for now. So I’m researching any free resources I can find online that may help.

Today, we will meet with the Behavioral Analysis Team. I’m hoping and praying they can lead us to ways to teach Cody how to engage in proper conversation. I know the key to unlocking this skill is out there. But sometimes I feel like I’m searching the whole ocean to find it.