Monday, May 19, 2008

a Monday, a headache, and a title for my novella.

Today went well for my student. He had fewer problems than he had most of last week. I however wasn't so lucky. I had a headache for the whole day. It wasn't particularly bad, but I had it over the weekend as well. It was very persistent. Last night I went to bed somewhere around ten or eleven (which is far earlier than I usually go to bed). I woke up at two ish, and at four ish, and at six ish. At four ish I went to takes of Ibuprofin and drink some water. that helped me sleep until six, and then at six I went back to bed. I was supposed to wake up at seven, but no such thing happened. I woke up fully and realised it was eight forty. My work is at least thirty minutes away from where I live. I drove quickly there but I still arrived a good ten Minutes late. the morning went well, but my head just kept throbbing. My left eye didn't want to stay open (this headache is only on the left side) and I was rather unhappy.
I managed to get some ibuprofin during lunch and so post lunch went somewhat more quickly. I got back home and managed to deposit a check my parents had sent me, and felt happy to have gotten that out of the way.
My headache isn't acting up right now thanks to ibuprofin (how I love thee). I'm sitting in my favourite coffee shop, listening to music and writing. I had been working on a title for my novella. I think I finally came up with one I like

This is tennetive but hopefully it works. "The city and a misplaced piece of mind"
It may not ring true to my later, but for now it's the best I've come up with.
The title for this story is pretty hard. No lines stand up as titles and I'm involved enough in the story that I can't very well explain it in a short emotive sentence.

I'll see how it goes.

I'll likely post tomorrow (if not sooner), perhaps sometime I'll try and post about something that isn't work, but for now that's what's kept me occupied.


Friday, May 16, 2008

Ahh, Friday, Autism, Scripting, and my thoughts on Free Will.

I am done with the week. I have a few more scratches and bruises to show for it, and I'm not sure what to think about my students' improvement (or lack thereof). I feel overall alright about it. My student had a particularly bad day yesterday (thursday) He was aggressive all day. I'm not sure quite what it was, but he was sneezing a whole lot in the morning.
The whole day was me redirecting him away from aggressive behaviours. I have a number of open wounds from that. They're primarily on my left arm at about elbow level and on the front of my neck nigh the Adams apple. They aren't serious, but I can't say I like coming home from work with red marks down my neck and blood on my arms (this is after washing)
It's no fault of my student. His care has been so mismanaged in the past that you really can't blame him. He's gotten too used to getting things he needed very easily, and so never pushed himself. It's natural, and it's rather sad when it happens. It's going to be nice getting good data on how he's doing. We (being me and my supervisor) don't think the data that had been taken before was accurate. Setting a baseline of behaviour will make things much easier to deal with.
My predecessor wore long sleeves (every time I saw him at least). I've a feeling that this is why. I'd rather be cool and have some marks on my arms though. The thing is, my student doesn't have aggressions if given time to communicate, and if given the opportuninty to get enough rest. We have bad days when he hasn't had good sleep, and when his allergies are acting up. It makes sense. Honestly I still think it shouldn't take too much time before he starts to straighten up a bit. People have mentioned a marked difference.
I really hope they're right, because I can't stand the idea of a bright good kid being fucked over by poor management in the past. I don't know the particulars or the politics of it, and frankly I don't care. I just think that it's a shame he wasn't given the sort of help my organisation specialises in earlier.
In the long run, the track that his parents have set him on will make him incredibly dependent for a long time to come. (They've been very adamant about not having him go to behavioural schools or to the sorts of places that would help him.) As always in situations like this, where the child is hobbled despite natural ability, I wonder how much of it (subconsciously of course) is because the parents want to have the child dependent on them.
I get a lot of my thoughts on that from Eric Burns, particularly from his book "What do you say after you say Hello" It's quite good, and it's about the idea of Scripting. Scripting makes a lot of intuitive sense, and I imagine with more research could be developed further into a strongly applicable branch of psychology.
The primary idea is that we are scripted by those around us in our youth. The example I give most often is somewhat of an oversimplification, but of course no one ever wants to hear the long version, so here is my coloquial explanation.

Suppose that while you're growing up your parents say with some frequency (doesn't have to be a lot) "You're so much like your uncle mike" Mike is an alcoholic. They never mention this in concert with saying how much you're like him. However they tell stories about mike and his alcoholism. This gives you the script that you are expected to become an alcoholic.

This is an oversimplification, so If it seems too blunt, that's because it is. Scripts are very hard to break, and very few people manage to. That's not to say that scripts are all bad, one can be scripted for success (sounds like the title of a bad self help book). The main point is that most people, most of the time will develop in adherence to their script.

This fits into my beliefs regarding free will as well. I gather that all people have the chance to chose outside of what they're _bound_ to do. However, most people will not.
Hence the world being largely Deterministic. People have free will, but it doesn't negate the general flow of fate or whatever you want to call it. This works well as an explanation for certain anomalies caused by individuals.

This is something I could talk much much much much further on, but I'll refrain for the time being.

I think next week will be better with my student, I am happy that I have a nice weekend to relax, and I wish all who may read this a good weekend (even though I'll probably post tomorrow too).

Monday, May 12, 2008

monday the twelfth

It's been a good Monday. I have some scratches and marks to show for it, but it went well.
My student's class went to a musical today. Sousical the musical. It was a production done by a local highschool. The showing was for just the school my student goes to. The school specialises in children with developmental disabilities.
What I saw of the musical was good. My student did have some trouble sitting still, and it was hard getting him to show me picture icons to ask for things when the lights were dimmed all the way down. We eventually went outside and walked about. we only walked for about fifteen minutes, and then the play was over. From then on my student was rather tired. He did well with all of his tasks, but got more easily frustrated after the change in routine.
He did a bit more grabbing aggressions, and dropped to the ground more frequently. He was clearly just tired. The aggressions weren't much of a problem, Though that is where I got the aforementioned scratches and marks. He's getting better at asking for things, and tomorrow should be better as it is on his usual schedule and he gets to swim.
He loves swiming. the class swims on Tuesday Wednesday and Thursday. On monday's and Fridays he continually goes back to his towel and swimming suit in anticipation.

A lot of people remarked on his improvement. I though perhaps some of it was making the rookie feel good, giving the new guy confidence, but it happened more, and after five or so times I took them seriously. (I knew my student was doing better, I just didn't figure it could be readily seen by outside observers)

I think it should be a good week for my student. Of course we'll see, but he's been getting better at asking for things, and he has been understanding that all he needs to do to get help for something is ask in some form we can know. This lessens the aggressions. I don't mind him grabbing onto my arm hard (well I mind, and more often than not it breaks skin, but I don't mind nearly as much as most people) but it will be nice when he only asks. He only has aggresions when he can't get his point across. It's relatively straightforward. I just have to continue through it, and keep the conversation going. I have colourful arms and some nicely stretched shirt collars now, but it's all for the better.(when he grabs at you sometimes he'll pull on your collar with both hands downwards trying to pull your face towards him. Sometimes he'll bite the centre of the shirt collar as well. The best way to deal with it is just support his weight by putting your arms against his, and giving no more reaction.) It can be somewhat hard to keep the reaction low when he give a really good pinch that breaks the skin, but it's an aquiered skill. If you jump too much when he grabs you or pinches you it reinforces the action. Since you jump at it, it's clear that he's gotten your full attention, and will likely get what he wants. We don't want him associating his aggressions with getting what he wants.
It's been going well so far.
The kid's bright, he just needs a vocabulary (in whatever form it may take, pictures words gestures anything really) to share it with others.
Sadly I don't think he'll ever be at normal functioning. I could be wrong of course, but he's thirteen and still non-vocal. Early intervention is the best way to deal with autism, and they botched it with him. I really wish the outfit I worked for could have gotten him when he was young (we specialise in really young children, and nipping it in the bud)
What I want for him when he's twenty can only happen if after I'm done working with him he's kept on the same general path, needing to practice his abilities and to learn new ones. I want him to be able to have some sort of a social life. I think it's doable. There's no doubt that we'll be able to get him to a level where he could live by himself if need be, I just want to make sure he has the skills to deal with people in non formal situations.

I'll keep you updated.

Sleeping does not come easily tonight

It is one of those inexplicable times during which my head will not settle. I have tried my usual methods for getting to sleep, but here it is, three hours before my time to wake up, and I'm still as awake as I was at nine in the evening.
I don't have any good explanation for this, but some nights this happens. Of course this happens every night to Julie, so I don't have much to complain about if I've only got to deal with it once in a while.
I tried sleeping, but frankly lying in bed bored isn't going to help much, so I'm trying to do things. I've edited a good five pages of my story, I'm writing a blog post, I've been listening to music, I had a drink, I may have a snack. There really isn't much to do that wouldn't be a bother to those around me. I can't make music, but I suppose I may read from the book I'm working on or the magazines I purchased today. I got a copy of Paste magazine (I like it quite a lot) Since Punk Planet went under Paste is my favourite music magazine. I also got a magazine called Poets and Writers. It's interesting, and has articles on writing and writers and the sorts of things to be expected in a magazine with its name.
It also has a handy list of publications to which things could be submitted. I circled a number of them that might have interest in the story I'm working on. I probably still have four edits or so before it's ready to send out to anyone, but It's a good idea to know where to send It anyway. Considering how quickly I've been going through it, It may get done before I had expected. I got the manuscript sent back to me from my dad a few days ago, and now I'm about two thirds of the way through my second draft. There will need to be much polish, and I can't guarantee that the remainder of my work won't have vast swaths of new writing, but I'm optimistic about it. Perhaps that's only the foolishness of a beginning writer.

anyway, I'm going to continue trying to sleep. It's unlikely to happen quickly, but one can hope (though one certainly can't dream at a time like this)

Friday, May 09, 2008

finally Independence

Today was a good day. I worked with my student by myself today. It went very well. The Aide he had been with was out for the day, so I was able to start my independent work a day early. It was much easier to deal with my student without conflicting messages flying around. it was my first time truly working with a student like this, so the first half of the morning I had lots of help from my supervisor, and gradually increased my skill. By the end of the day I felt pretty good about what I had been doing, and I felt that my student had improved.
He likes certain pressure points. He has a callous on his thumb from biting it, a bump on his arm from hitting himself, and a circle of hard skin at the space where his spine enters his head from pressing there. He likes pressure a lot. Understandably we're trying to decrease these behaviours. One well established methods is called a sensory diet. we haven't anything written up, but essentially periodically he is given certain allowed types of pressure by someone. He doesn't traditionally ask for it, but today I had him saying (in a way that was discernible from his other words but not very knowable to anyone else) Pressure when he wanted some. He is largely non-vocal and this is a huge step. I'm also going to have him use the Icon in his PECS book to show me. It's more reliable, but the vocal is great. He was very calm, and once I had gotten him saying Pressure He didn't have more of his aggressions.
I really like working with him, and I am glad that I got a kid who's both as cool as he is, and needs as much help as he does.

I had to get re-fingerprinted with the school district today as well. It didn't take very long, but I'm never a fan of that sort of thing. I've no serious plans for the evening, though a film and perhaps a party are likely options.

Monday should be nice. I want to see if the things he got to today stay with him over the weekend.

after work activities

My life does not revolve around work, though it certainly may begin to seem that way. I actually have quite a bit of free time when not working.
I'm going to be running the Tahoe relay with my girlfriend her sister and some other folks, so today I went out for a run. It was only about 1.6 km which is traditionally too short for me to pick up a pace, but it was my first successful run in some time. I'm likely to do about 3.5 km tomorrow, (maybe 3 km not sure yet depends on my route) I'm looking forward to being all in shape. and it'll be nice running Tahoe relay. I'm sort of excited to have a Tahoe relay Tshirt like the one's Julie always wears. It's sort of silly, but it'll be really cool to match.

After running I showered Etc. At eight I had a meeting for new DJs at KDVS. It was pretty interesting. It's nice having time to do that now (last quarter I had an Aikido class at exactly that time) I really like the idea of having a radio show. I also much prefer finding music in physical form and I've not the money to buy records right now (or tapes, or cds etc) At the station they have a HUGE library of music, and one of the volunteer jobs that I get my required hours for is sorting through the library. Things get put in the wrong places, get taken out, get out of order, and It is the job of volunteers to sort it all out again. This is a really good time to peruse the stacks, and since you're sorting other folks choices you'll likely run into something you wouldn't have picked yourself. I'm really looking forward to hearing some of the obscure music there that I can't really get through all my current sources.
The meeting was basically a lecture on Indecency and Obscenity. It was covering the nuances of what can and can't be said or played on the radio. Interspersed was a short history of the tightening of FCC regulations and a smattering of pleasantly indecent and obscene songs.
I may write a post just on the nature of the Indecency and Obscenity rules later, perhaps when I need to know it really well.

It was a nice class, and I'm REALLY looking forward to the next bit where we're covering the history of certain music (I expect to hear about a lot of bands I've never heard of and that's a hugely exciting prospect for me.)

my third day on the job

Today I was the primary tutor with my student. It was nice not shadowing, and as expected I found myself somewhat inept at certain things. My student did rather well considering the amount of change and the confusion of having three people attend to him (his current tutor, my supervisor, and me) He had some problems later in the day, and grabbed at me rather hard. I now have a nice little mark on my neck. It's not that noticeable anymore though. He was just trying to get my attention though, no harm intended. I was pleased that I didn't come close to getting angry. I'm glad because that means he'll grab less and less, because anger is attention, and when he grabs he wants attention. Getting angry is reinforcing the behaviour.
I'm looking forward to my second day working with my student on a more one on one basis. I think it will be somewhat easier once his current tutor is out of the classroom. The fellow is very nice, but having both of us ends up sending conflicting messages.
A lot of information was thrown my way today, which was very helpful. I'm relatively sure I'll be able to remember it, and tomorrow I'll be taking data on my outfits sheets rather than on blank page. The data sheets help me do the tasks. It's easier to keep track of what's going on, and keep everything consistent when you have to write it down.
I did a Relatively good job with DT (discrete trials). It was my first time doing DT with an actual student. During my training in DT I practised on other trainees, and they on me. It was useful, but trainees don't read into unintentional patterns or get distracted when reinforcement is slow in coming.
I do realise now what one of my main problems was. During DT I should have put him at a lower phase. I was performing the trials at a higher level of skill than he had. I won't get into numbers or anything as you needn't know them, but I'll be going close to the bottom tomorrow and then working up to see what level he's at.

It was a good day, and I enjoyed it. It's nice working with my student, he's a very cool kid. I really hope my training helps him out (it should, the technique my outfit uses is the only proven treatment for autism).

Tomorrow should be good.

Wednesday, May 07, 2008

day two, timing it full.

my second full day of work was rather nice. I observed similar things as I had the day before, and today I took data. It's nice having evidence to back up improvement or decline. The current people haven't been very good about data. It's just not something that they do. The outfit I work for is very very good about taking data. Everything we do has to be supported by evidence. It's a very nice set up.
I'm sure I'll have more to say once I am the only tutor on the case, but it will mostly be training(for student not me). the methods remain the same, we just change the goal a little bit each time I expect immense improvement.

Changing my habits.

I really shouldn't be up right now. It's only one forty AM. That's about two hours before I would normally begin to get tired. The only thing that changes all this is that tomorrow I am getting up at six thirty. That's less than five hours away. I shouldn't try to go on five hours of sleep. It's just not normal for me to go to bed at this time though. I suppose I could manage it, but some nights you just don't have any sleep in you. this is one of those nights. I don't really have to wake up bright and early at six thirty though. It takes me a little more than thirty minutes to get to work, and I don't need to be there until eight thirty, but for some reason I insist on waking up two hours early, to make sure I'm on time.
That's been a problem in the past. I used to be hours early to everything. This isn't very convenient. Let's just say I got very well into the habit of always carrying a book. It's not that bad anymore. I'm sure that once I get into a flow I'll figure things out, but right now it's still a little odd. If I'm lucky I'll be asleep by two thirty. I don't know if I care right now though.

I really should be asleep right now.

Tuesday, May 06, 2008

First Full Day of Work

Today was my first full day of work. I was really just shadowing someone today, and will be again tomorrow, but I was at the school all day, interacting somewhat with my future student. It was nice. The fellow who's going to be my student is very interesting. he's a nice kid. He's non-vocal, but likes very much to communicate. His only problems generally have to do with not being understood. he's getting better at using PECS (picture exchange communication system) and hopefully once I start things will be even more smooth.
The fellow who teaches the class proper is very nice, as is my students current tutor. The current tutor has been with him for four years, and things have fallen into a routine. That's one of the problems. It's likely to happen with anyone. The student is very bright, and has perfected, to an art, getting people to do things for him. He takes cues that you didn't know you were giving. His current aide prompts him more than necessary, and after all, he has been with him for four years, even back when he needed so much prompting.
Not much data is being taken on the students improvement though. One of the key things about the way that I've been trained (and the things I already know about behavioural therapy) is that it all must be observed carefully, and recorded. They don't really know how well or how badly the student is doing because they haven't been keeping track meticulously. I've never been someone who liked keeping records. I rather hate it in fact. But in this instance it's the best way to do things.
There are a lot of open opportunities to apply various behavioural techniques. These opportunities aren't being used now, but I'm excited to exploit them myself. This kid is quite awesome, and I think that if we tighten up the program, get the trials in order (behavioural training, not like draconian stuff, more like. Do this, get a reward.), and shake things up a little he should do really well. It's sad that he's as disabled as he is. If we had gotten in, doing the ABA (applied behavioural analysis) when he was young, he would blend in with any normal thirteen year old. Walking around, he does. He probably won't have that anytime soon, but I think we can improve things for him a lot. It's going to be exciting.

and that was just the first day.

Monday, May 05, 2008

finally I start my job

Tomorrow I finally start working with kids. It's going to be very nice. I'm looking forward to it. From what I've heard the kid I'm working with is awesome. It's going to be great.
It's nice getting out of a slump where most days are spent almost wholly inside. I can't say I like that. In heat like this it's hard to get yourself out, and it is awfully tempting when you can just sleep in and sit at the computer all day.
It will be very very nice to get to work.
I've been waiting for a while.