Sunday, February 01, 2009

Cross Cultural Experiences

I was out of town for Aaron's first behavioral therapy session, so
earlier this week was my first but his second. The special instructor
comes to our house about once a week, and interacts with our kids with
us, dispensing insights and strategies along the way. It's like being
on Nanny 911. Some helpful nuggets I took away:

* Aaron's speech delays compound his frustrations when he can't get
what he wants or tell us what he's feeling. So we have to amp up the
verbals so as to give him words to associate with his various feelings
and requests.

* We also have use exaggerated facial expressions and hand gestures to
convey to him that we get what he's feeling; the empathy of affirming
that "you're upset" can surprisingly defuse further eruptions.

* You always want to lead with positive, so instead of "no hitting,"
it's "we use our hands for eating," and instead of "don't drink the
watercolor water," it's "that water is for painting."

* Staying on top of Jada is an integral part of Aaron's development.
If we let Jada get away with teasing or bullying Aaron, he's just
going to act out even more since he doesn't see us stepping up for
him. But we also need to convey that some times Jada gets a turn - at
a toy, with our attention, and so on.

There were a few more, I'm sure, but that gives you a sense of how
stretching this is for two harried introverts like Amy and me. It
really did feel like a cross cultural experience, having to think hard
about language (both speaking and listening) and other communicative
nuances and rules.

Not surprisingly, Amy and I were wiped out after the session. But we
are buoyed with material to work with, affirmed in things we've
persevered in that are right even if Aaron isn't yet responding to
them, and supported in areas where we once were flying in the dark and
now have some guidance as to what to do. So we're going to give this
a go; but we may need to budget more sleep to recover from how
grueling the effort is going to be.

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