Gemiini – S&L for Autism

Gemiini is a speech and language programme where the student watches a wide variety of videos a number of times in order that what is being said and the actions shown eventually sink in. The eventual hope is that they will copy the actions and repeat the words. It’s an old method of learning but with a modern twist and autistim in mind.

It’s been a few months now since we’ve started using Gemiini opting for the basic pre-defind programme designed for the progression of speech. Our six year old non verbal autistic son enjoys watching the videos and does take an interest in what’s being said and done by the actors. Sometimes the clips will include a musical interlude with a child playing with a toy, going on a boat, etc. which works really well and keeps the student engaged. Videos will consist of different subjects and topics in one session keeping it fresh along with the different focus from close ups of the mouth, pictures of the subject matter and clips of people performing the actions of what’s being said.

IMG_2129It works really well. Basic but clear. The aim is to work in three fifthteen minute sessions per day. This works well into our daily routine. The first session is with breakfast, the second when he gets home from school and the last after dinner. Each video is to be watched forty times before moving onto the next. As an adult this is painstaking but to be fair our son doesn’t seem to mind.

As to how effective it has been for me the jury’s out though. Whilst Jake has just started copying the actions on the latest two videos (pointing/waving/blinking) he could do all of these before. He had been making lots of noises and sounds before embarking on the Gemiini programme, and has been having lots of speech and language therapy, so the additional sounds he has made recently could or could not be related. I wouldn’t say any great strides have been made.

We’ll carry on using the programme as it works well into our routine and Jake seems to enjoy it. It’s educational if nothing else. I know it’s a bit unrealistic but I think unless he starts saying out loud suddenly the words being said in the video I’m going to be a bit sceptical as to it’s success. However, I’m also aware different therapies work for different people so I would recommend that if you have a child with speech and language difficulties then give this a go. It’s also not that expensive!

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English Football Premiership Season 2015-16

money sportSo Leicester F.C. have won the premiership this year (season 2015-16) and bloody well done to them to. They were 5000-1 outsiders at beginning of the season but have defied all odds to win the prize. How have they done it? I believe along with a bit of skill the telling factors were team work, hard work and a will to win.

Their players are on half the wages of the top clubs, cost a fraction of the price and at the beginning of the season wouldn’t get into any of the top six sides teams. That of course would surely now change. The manager of course has also played his part in galvanizing this team and being a cool head under pressure towards the end of the season when they could have crumbled.

For me this season has highlighted how much money has ruined the game that I use to love but now casually acknowledge. The players at the top have lost all sense of reality and believe they are gods who don’t have to work for success. The amount of money they earn is obscene and doesn’t equal to what they give back.

Where as in the past you would have paid five million pounds for a top player who was hungry to win trophies and earn his price tag now you get the opposite. For fifty million you get a player who has now “made it” and doesn’t have to put the effort in and he’s setup for life. The opposition players now joke and laugh together before/during/after the game showing no desire to beat them. Players swap shirts with each other AT HALF TIME thinking nothing of how this might look to the fans and their manager. Players of old would have slapped those players silly at half time. They wanted to win for the fans, to keep their place for the next game, to earn their next contract, etc. These days a player appears content to earn £100,000 a week and sit on the bench for half the season listening to the latest tunes…

In truth Leicester F.C. have won the league as the players at the top clubs have no hunger and are just happy to turn up, get their massive paycheck and put in a good performance every now and then to remind us of why they were once considered talented. I’ll watch a game of footy if it’s on, and I’m not doing anything else, but have no real passion for the sport now. I loved watching footy and going to games in the 80s/90s/early 00s but in the last ten years money has ruined it.

Autism Friendly Musicals – Wicked!

wicked
Wicked the Musical
There’s more work to be done to raise awareness and for more autism friendly events to be organised but I’m still grateful that we’re at a time where progress has been made. Ten years ago there would never have been such a thing but in recent years the National Autistic Society has been doing great work in conjunction with the West End to put on autism friendly performances of the latest hit musicals.

This year the N.A.S. have worked in conjunction with the Apollo Theatre and long running west end musical Wicked to put on a performance designed with autistic people in mind. The sound and lighting had been adjusted along with chill out zones setup for when it got too much for the audience members. There were plenty of volunteers on hand to greet everyone as they made their way into the theatre, get to their seats and assist with any other issues they had. There was even a room for the children to go and do some colouring before the show. Oh and the ticket prices had been vastly reduced to make it affordable to more people which was great to see in this day and age.

It was a wonderfully relaxed atmosphere with nobody staring, judging or being awkward around you. It was delightful to see my son and all the other autistic adults and children enjoying the experience and performance. There was some screeching, random clapping and various other noises coming from all parts of the auditorium during the performance but this was accepted as par for the course by all the audience and cast alike. It mattered not as everyone thoroughly enjoyed themselves getting to do something that families might not often get the opportunity to take part in.

My son is non verbal but makes a lot of sounds especially when excited. During the singing he started to flap his arms and occasionally make noise as a release. We asked him to remember to use his inside voice but it was relaxing to know if he couldn’t we wouldn’t have to consider leaving. At the interval we went for a walk and he had a good run around and dance in the main entrance area to get ready for the 2nd act. Nobody batted an eyelid they were too busy enjoying themselves and understood.

My thanks go out to everyone involved from the charity, the staff, the volunteers and of course the cast for putting on a magnificent performance and giving the audience some terrific memories that will last a long time. I’m already looking forward to seeing what musical signs up for 2017!

Talking to a brick wall…

Getting my son ready for school again today and had a lapse falling back into bad dad mode… Various changes have been previously made to the morning routine to make life easier, it now goes Breakfast > Gemiini (work) > Dressed > Teeth > iPad > Bus. This works well most days and leaves enough “faffing” time for Jake to get his toys sorted out and him out the door. Today though it didn’t quite go as smoothly but on reflection it was all my fault.

It started to go wrong when I looked at the clock and we were way ahead of schedule so I gave him a bit longer on the iPad. BIG MISTAKE. His go ended and I suddenly noticed he hadn’t got any of his toys out in their positions on the floor / table. This is a very long winded process of touching the toys/reading the books/etc. and placing them all in the exact position he needs them to be in so he’s at ease and will leave the house. Normally this task is done the night before but sometimes when he’s tired and goes to be early it doesn’t happen.

What led next was me asking nicely for him to hurry up, looking at the clock, getting more anxious, my voice getting louder, asking again, and again and finally shouting at him to hurry up as I have visions of the bus turning up and having to leave without him. This would then lead to a massive meltdown, me being late for work and nobody happy. However, as I know from past experience shouting and repeatedly asking for something to be down has absolutely zero affect on him in these situations. He has tunnel vision and is oblivious to whatever is going on in the world around him, or being said, and he is solely focused on the task at hand.

I know this and usually leave the room at this point to stop myself getting frustrated at a situation outside of my control or talking to somebody who can’t hear me. This morning I was unfair on him, it’s not his fault, it’s mine. I should have seen what he would have needed to do and not increased the go on the iPad and hurried the morning along earlier.

Luckily the bus was late and Jake had just enough time to complete the task at hand, 2o minutes later, and get on the bus. I was left feeling guilty for not seeing it from his point of view and for shouting. Six years down the line and I sometimes still forget what it’s like to live in his world…

Tui Na Massage for Autism – Verdict

After finishing our commitment to a six month trial we decided not to continue with the massage for our autistic son. Yes, there had been a slight improvement with his fine motor skills and possibly overall sensitivity but not enough that you couldn’t say would have happened naturally or with the other therapies and work done by us and the school.

Other parents reported more progress with their child in terms of physical and social interaction whilst others reported none. Towards then end of the trial Jake himself had grown tired of the daily ritual and was starting to be difficult at laying still and it became counter productive and meant that the entire evening schedule got pushed back meaning later to bed and more tired the next day.

I’m glad that we had given this treatment a go but had decided no noticeable improvements had been made and had decided to direct the time spent performing the massage on other therapies that will hopefully improve our son’s verbal communication such as the Gemiini program.

In summary I wouldn’t put other parents off trying this treatment as you can understand the logic and there aren’t any negatives but for us there were hardly any positives but then different things work for different people.