Wait. I need to provide a little backstory. In the past, for many years, we used an in-home therapy that encouraged us to include Marco in all kinds of chores around the house. The method went like this: We would choose an activity (like sweeping up the leaves), find a role in that activity for Marco, and then carefully guide him through the steps. Theoretically, as we went along, Marco’s increasing sense of competence would provide motivation and satisfaction, and he would become more and more adept at interacting with other people.
We had very limited success with this method--especially when it came to jobs like sweeping and raking leaves. Marco got no satisfaction from being assigned a role and made to do chores. He would engage in all kinds of creative passive resistance, and I would feel like a failure.
Thanks to NPT, I have some new strategies, new ways to include Marco in activities around the house. I can start, for example, by allowing him to be a spectator--to watch what I’m doing and join me when he’s ready. The story about the leaves is a good example.
Out in front of the house, I started sweeping while Marco sat on the porch. As I worked, I noticed that he was watching me. I waved to him. A few minutes later he was walking back and forth on the porch. I kept sweeping. The next thing I knew, he was right next to to me, singing a Raffi song. I joined him for a few bars, but that didn’t seem to satisfy him. So I asked if he wanted to help sweep, and he did. We took turns doing all the different roles--sweeping, scooping, pushing down the leaves. We were singing the whole time, and Marco stopped now and then to do a little dance move. Not the most efficient system, but lots of fun.
Before we were quite done, Marco walked away abruptly. In our old method, they taught us that it was very important for us--the “guides”--to be the ones who determined when an activity was over. It was all about control. But NPT is all about respect and acceptance, so when Marco walked away, I respected his decision. I gave him a minute to see if he would come back. When he didn’t, I went into the house--and found him in the kitchen, fixing himself a juice spritzer! I realized I was thirsty too, so I joined him, and we had a nice little break. When we went back outside, Marco decided to go back to his drawing while I finished clearing the sidewalk. I felt calm and happy--and confident that the next time I need to sweep or rake, I’d have a willing partner.