DVM (Discrete Video Modelling)

Along our travels we bumped into some ideas around video Modelling for kids on the spectrum. Some people using home videos of themselves and family members demonstrating social scenarios using basic, appropriate use of language. Many have reported it reached their child in a way nothing else would. Like an ‘instructional video’ that a child could refer back to over and over again if need be. Not only that but the repetitive exposure was fast-tracking progress and development that daily hands-on exposure, which is increasingly labour-intensive for parents, could take much much longer to develop.

We have been using video Modelling in various forms with Joe for around 10 months, and the results, though slow to begin with, are now staggering. Because Joe needs a fair amount of ‘visual’ stimulation, watching a screen was a very easily digestable way for him to take in the informatio of language and social etiquette he was missing because of his ‘lack of interest’ in us. Initially, it replaced his sensory need to spin objects to get his visual stimulation, but this way he was actually learning something else in the process. Eventually, he started to join the dots. I would sit facing him while he’d watch the videos so he could see me also reenacting or supporting what was on the screen. It became his ‘point of reference’ which was easy to refer to rather than take up with humans straight away which was a little more scary, fast-paced and confusing. Piece by piece it has helped him put his world together around him, and fast-tracked his language comprehension. So far, he has demonstrated that he has learned what most animals are called, the noises they make, what objects are called, concepts such as open and close, up and down etc. because videos can explain and show a concept where as a photo or snap shot can not. I’ve also videoed myself using Joe’s toys to literally show him how to play with them and give him ideas as to what they are for. Most times joe wouldn’t play with the toy as it was functionally designed. He would just find a way he liked to play with it to suit his sensory preferences. Once he could be shown in a way that was respectful and unintrusive to him, he mimicked the ‘correct use’ of the toy voluntarily. He’d enjoy it and get a great sense of confidence from it which helped him build ideas around how other toys might work. It was, and still is, exciting to watch. But I have been part of it every step of the way. It’s not a case of just standing back and letting him watch videos. It’s the order I have presented them to him in, scaffolding and building concepts that flow on from one to another. Grouping them so they associate with each other, such as a video with pictures of faces of family members and their names. Having a theme, or a point of reference from a video that he already knows so he has something familiar to work with and build on.

I’ve used a program called Gemiini coupled with our own personalized videos. Gemiini is an online program designed by a family who used this method of discrete video Modelling with their children who are on the spectrum. You can piece together your own videos based on your child’s own interests from a video clip catalogue they have uniquely designed for general concepts. They suggest a minimum of 6 months of exposure before you decide whether it’s working for you or not. I would have to agree as Joe is only just now starting to show us how much he’s learned from them over the past 10 months. 

Like everything, it’s another angle and another tool in your bag. I’ll attach some videos to demonstrate some of the awesome outcomes I’ve managed to capture on video lately through this method. 

Topics coming up….

Working on topics such as DVM (Discrete Video Modelling)…. Powerful tool!! AND Biomeds and Gluten/Dairy/Soy free diet to support learning and language 🙂 Scary topic for parents of these sensitive kids because things are tricky enough already right? Don’t worry, I’m not going to get too scientific and heavy, but there are a few things that can really make a difference and it might be a bit easier than you think…

Oh…and MIRRORS! Where to have them available to maximize the benefit this simple tool has to offer.

We’ve been using all the above and the results we’ve seen with Joe…. Well, he’s growing and trying new things every day AND the words are happening! Hope this is helpful to anyone else who is interested about what else might coming up and what to check back for along the track 😊

Joe’s first greeting today…

The following was written on Facebook by my mum today. We all witnessed something surreal today, and priceless. Joe used a full sentence in perfect context with my mum as she greeted him today when she visited our house. A small celebration is going on inside of me right now…..(Joe, 3 + 4 months old, ASD)

Today was a very special day for me, I had my first conversation with my grandson Joe and it was totally initiated by him. I had him in my arms when he said “Grandwah, hello, how are you today” then proceeded to give me a cuddle and kisses. Wow! How thrilled am I. Love him with all my heart xx

Re-Empowering Parents

When we first received a diagnosis for Joe, to be honest, I was feeling a lot of grief. I needed relief from this pain. I needed to know that everything was going to be ok. I needed to feel hope when my world fell to pieces. Only another parent who’s been through this understands that feeling of being completely disempowered and disorientated. You’d spend whatever anyone told you to and go to any lengths at this point as long as you had something or someone to guide your way through the forest.

As I searched, I found there was a lot of information out there…. but sifting through it all I ran the risk of being shot down 100 more times and didn’t know if I’d ever get back up again. A lot of it was written by professionals and continued to tell me over and over again what the PROBLEM was with my child and how they needed to be ‘fixed’ as such. Where was the beauty? Where is the uniqueness? Where is JOE in amongst all this? Tell me HOW to reach him, not that scary visual portrayal that is seen on so many ASD sights where a child is trapped behind a door trying to get out. Visions like that… Did they really think about how seeing those things makes a parent feel? Scares you out of your wits. It did for me anyway.

So, here, in my corner of the world, I’d like to share hope. I want parents who will do anything for their child to know there are LOADS of things you can do in your own home that will reach your child and for the bonds of a relationship. My son calls me mum now. He hugs me. He looks me in the eye – a lot now- and smiles at me. He looks to me now for comfort. 14 months ago I would have dreamed of these things.

It’s so easy to be disempowered by the fear around the ‘A’ word. The only thing a diagnosis helps with is for the professionals to box up his condition so it fits nearly on a piece of paper so we can ‘technically’ get some extra support from the government. Don’t get me wrong, I’m immensely grateful for the support I have received so far, financially it’s got us of the blocks at least. 1 x 1/2hr appointment with a specialist per week is what it can buy us. But what about the other 60+ hours of the week? It’s me. Little old me. And his father and grandparents. But ultimately am his everything because I’m his primary carer. BUT I’m creative, I’m resourceful and I have a LOT of common sense, which seems to be sorely lacking in some aspects these days. I needed to find my faith in myself and my OWN ideas, not be knocked down before I even start. Coupled with other things I’ve learned and been shown, my son is starting to play with me now. And laugh. We’re in this together, all of us. Let’s empower each other as parents of these gifted, unique and sensitive souls. Let’s share ideas, spread empowerment to each other and know that after every storm there will always be light. Hold the beacon for your child. We may not always get it perfect , but love isn’t about perfection or fixing. It’s about acceptance.

Sleep and No.2’s…..and Proprioception 

Would’ve thought they could all be so related?!? In my experience, incredibly so. It’s also linked to weening!

Joe had terrible gas in the night up until 2 1/2yrs and would rely heavily on me (and my boob) to relax enough to let the gas out and go back to sleep. At first I didn’t realize that this is what was causing him to wake up. I just thought he was a ‘bad’ sleeper. He’d wake up, some nights, screaming from the gas. He didn’t even need to have a lot of it stuck for him to over-react like this. So needless to say, my sleep was dependent on his sleep. We both had a hard time. Because of this, weening seemed impossible to me. He never would take a dummy or a bottle from birth. It was only me he’d accept.

Then, something amazing happened. Well, two things really. Firstly, once Joe started wearing the weighted jacket and getting some Proprioceptive input during the day, he started weaning himself! I always knew he was only suckling for comfort and to relax and ‘reset’ himself after about 1 1/2yrs old, not for nutrition necessarily. He wouldn’t just suckle through the night, but during the day as well. The jacket gave him another way to ‘reset’ himself. The only time he’d use me, then, was if he had gas stuck in the night (which started to decrease) or, was sick in the night and was in a bad way. Daytime suckling just naturally dropped off!! I’d tried to ween him before the introduction of the jacket but he just was NOT ready. I just gave him what he needed, feeling it was the right thing to do, even in spite of some people telling me he should be off ‘it’ by now. A ‘normal’ toddler, yes, maybe? (Who am I to judge?!) But this kid was was a rule book unto himself. I was flying solo here, and my intuition was my best guide.

Another thing I noticed at the introduction of the jacket was that he’d poo when I’d put it on him. Sometimes within one minute of wearing it…. Hmmm. Interesting corrolation I thought. So I used this to help him in advance so he’d have a better sleep at night. 

Through months of using Proprioceptive intervention, joe still ‘stims’ (he is only 3 and 4 months old) but significantly less than he did 1 year ago. We have come a looooong way in 12 months. But I’ve noticed his visual ‘stimming’ increases dramatically when he’s needing to poo. Giving him extra Proprioception and opportunities to get visual stimulation makes this pass a whole lot quicker and he ‘comes back to us’ much faster.

Their sensory needs cannot be ignored. Working with them rather than against them is a much more effective approach in my experience so far. There are always reasons behind the behaviours and if we are gentle and observing we can discover the reason behind it. We can help them get their needs met. We can also make it fun and turn it into a game! 

Joe’s sleeping habits have settled and sleeps anywhere between 10-12hrs at night. His sleep patterns are a mathematical equation 😳 we ended up dropping naps out altogether because he’d just go to bed later and subtract it (down to the minute) off his night sleep. I used to be able to calculate exactly what time he’s go to bed based on the precise time he’d wake up. I still can, basically, though he’ll throw me curve ball now and again. Mainly if he hasn’t done enough bowel movements that day and needs to get one out before bed lol. It really is like that. 

The other thing that helped joe sleep (and everything else for that matter) was changing his diet and working on his digestion. This is a big subject, so I’ll save it for my next topic….. Thanks for reading, feel free to share any similar experiences in the comments below xx