We discovered a delightful little book while on a recent trip to see friends. It looked ideal for encouraging experience sharing and productive uncertainty with Hannah, so we grabbed (read that, “bought”) our own copy and brought it home.
Experience sharing is a weakness among those on the autism spectrum. Usually the only interaction autistic people participate in is in order to get something they need. One of the goals of RDI is to help them learn to enjoy simply sharing an experience with someone else, with no objective in mind other than enjoying the experience together.
Productive uncertainty is a method that we use in RDI. Most neurologically typical babies will look at the mother’s face to figure out what to do in an uncertain situation. Autistic children do not. So we try to create situations of uncertainty and spotlight those situations to encourage the child to reference someone’s face and regulate their behavior according to what they see there. It’s called “productive” uncertainty because we try not to throw things off balance so much that the child has a meltdown, just enough for the child to look for help and learn something productive from the experience.
So what was the book?
Blue Hat, Green Hat by Sandra Boynton brought lots of face referencing and giggles. Each page features some animals in various colored hats or shirts or pants. But the last animal on the page is a turkey who gets his clothing on the wrong way.
To create the uncertainty, I covered the turkey with my hand on each new page so Hannah couldn’t see his “oops” until the appropriate moment. We would read together the first few phrases, then I would stop and look at her before moving my hand.
After the first couple of pages, she started to anticipate what that little turkey would do. She would look at me with a grin; I would grin back, then uncover the turkey in his “oops” situation, and we would laugh together.
Book, $5.99. Experience sharing, priceless.