Tuesday, May 26, 2015

A Parent's Question on Reading and Screen Time

Mom N writes:
Hi Philip. I have a 3 yr. old cute autistic daughter. She is doing ABA, PT, ST and OT since one year. She has low muscle tone and hyper mobility. These are medical terms her therapists use. But to me she is a happy, active loving angel daughter. I came across RPM recently and have been following yours, Emma Zurcher Long's and Ido's blogs. How can I start RPM for my little one at home is my question to you. Now a days she keeps on asking (not verbally but grabbing my hand and taking me to either TV or iPad) for cartoons. She was interested in books before. But now she doesn't spend much time with it. How can I reduce her screen time and introduce other activities. Thanks for reading this and eagerly waiting for your answer. Your blog has changed my family and friends a lot. Thanks for being out there for us. God bless you

Philip writes back:
To N, I am happy to answer you. I am pretty sure your daughter wants to listen to you. Keep reading to her. No one really wants to be alone. You can help your daughter reduce screen time by deciding not to let her watch TV. I do not really like TV that much except for watching soccer and basketball. TV makes my ears feel overwhelmed. No one meets so much sound in nature. I like soft volumes better. I prefer people's talk and conversation to TV. I think kids can get addicted to TV out of lack of better things to do. Understanding the world is best through interaction with it. Practice doing things with your daughter instead of watching TV. Putting book reading before TV is better because it deems people look at the story together. I think people eagerly are looking for promises of commitment from people to have someone to share their lives with. I think being available to your daughter is important. Kids at age 3 like being taught about love and mini lessons on God. I feel best when I am peacefully praying with mom or dad. Parents are my closest relationships because they are patient. Mom is devoted to me most.  She never gives up on me even when I am petulant and difficult. I need lots of understanding to do my best in life. Peace to you and your daughter. Philip

Lisa adds:
Hi N, 
The description you give of your daughter sounds so similar to Philip at that age (and somewhat even to this day)!  I think the number one thing you can do is assume your daughter has the intelligence of a neurotypical 3 year old (and perhaps higher) and also that she longs for interpersonal interaction.  It will not seem evident by her outer appearance, but look past it and remind yourself that the outer does not necessarily reflect her thoughts and what is going on inwardly.  When Philip was younger, if he was not still while I was reading, and was instead jumping on the bed or pacing around in the room, I thought he was not listening and I would stop reading.  I now know better that movement does not mean he has stopped hearing.  It may even be helping him engage in the story more.  The times you spend in active engagement with your daughter will be very meaningful for the both of you, as long as you understand that it may not look like a "typical" interaction.  To see what typical 3 year old milestones are, you can search the internet.  Modify these milestones if your daughter can't meet them in the typical fashion (like speaking a number of words).  You can begin simple lessons in what a 3 year old should know in an RPM style starting by giving written choices or word identification.  Beginning to teach literacy skills (thus the importance of reading) will be key to succeeding in RPM.  I think some screen time is ok, but put the subtitles on, so that she can be learning the written words as well.  If you have the opportunity to attend a nearby RPM workshop, I would encourage it.  You can go as an observer (in many cases the observation fee is quite low) or enroll your daughter in the 1:1 sessions, depending on whether the provider accepts kids as young as 3.  You can also search this blog in the pages section to find videos and other resources to help you get started.  I wish you and your daughter all the best!  -Lisa   

Philip around age 3 and his sister

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