This was something out of the ordinary for all of us, Stephanie included. It was a new experience that I wasn't sure how to explain to Stephanie. She doesn't watch the news and even if she did, watching is a totally different experience than taping a segment for the news. She knows about taking movies because we frequently record things so Stephanie can watch them over and over and over on her iPad. But she hasn't seen a camcorder taking videos since she was very little. And our camcorder was a lot smaller than the video camera that came to do the news story.
I started with telling Stephanie that a lady was going to come to her house and talk about the Shirt Shop and the reporter would have a friend taking a movie that we could watch on the big TV. We talked about wearing a microphone, Emily practiced asking questions with her karaoke microphone, and talking about what we do for the Shirt Shop. We talked about rolling shirts, packaging an order, signing the thank you cards, and how she finds a shirt with our picture label system.
The whole idea of starting this online store is to teach Stephanie some work skills while completing a job independently. I knew that it was going to take a lot of practice and repetition. So I labeled all of our shirt bins with pictures that she recognizes. So when we get an order I can tell her that we need a shirt from the bin that has a clock on it for example. Then she can find the shirt and put it in the shipping bag. I am constantly thinking of ways we can make the shirt shop to fit her skills and encourage her independence.
When the reporter came and talked to us Stephanie was on her best behavior. She let the cameraman get in her space ( A LOT) and handled it wonderfully. We have always said her behavior is constantly inconsistent. On this particular day she was able to control her emotions and handle the new situation and take it in stride. If everyday could be like this we would all have a much easier life and she could probably have a job in the community. But Stephanie can't always control her emotions and gets overwhelmed or overstimulated and doesn't have the language skills to communicate this. I read a great quote today from Bonnie Harris that says "Children don't know how to ask for what they don't know they need. Their asking comes in the form of behavior." This very much sums up what we see when Stephanie becomes aggressive. She isn't able to communicate what she is feeling and her asking sometimes comes out in aggressive behavior or she shuts down. She needs to reset her system and by us (or a teacher or stranger) continuing to talk and ask her questions, that just overwhelms her more. So we have learned to give her space and time and not interact until she is ready.
Stephanie wore a microphone for the reporter and loved doing the sound check with the cameraman, She thought that it was funny that he would ask us multiple times to say "hi". She sat next to me and talked with the reporter for almost a half hour. Then she was very happy to show them both how she finds a shirt and fills and order. She was able to sign her thank you cards for the camera and fill bags of wristbands. She colored some of our coloring pages that I printed out to have at a craft fair we are doing this weekend. Emily and I will be out at The Kettle Moraine Artisan and Vintage Market this Saturday from 9-3. It is at the Dousman Lions Community Center., 235 N Main Street Dousman, WI. We will have Stephanie there in spirit (her photo showcasing our original shirt) but it isn't something that she would be interested in nor like being at all day,
I've started talking about expectations when we go somewhere. I remind her that the rule is to be calm and have safe hands and we usually demonstrate what that means. So far it seems to be working. Before, I felt that it was better not to bring it up because I didn't want to put the idea of hitting into her head. But I think it is better to get out in front of things and tell her what our expectations are. We've told her for awhile now that if she wants to do fun things she has to have calm safe hands. We aren't punishing her by not letting her do things she likes to do, but if she can't be safe around other people then it is not safe to be out and about. We have to think about everybody and their safety when we take Stephanie places. Stephanie loves to go and do things so if she can control her behavior by accepting help when needed and using her language instead of her hands then we call it a successful trip. The more successful trips we have the more confident we are to continue going places.
Stephanie is still listening to "Basket Case" as an end of the night song to wind down the day and have fun throwing soft items around her room. It is still followed by one of two versions of "Away in a Manager". Since we are still getting snow here and there it isn't that out of the norm that she is still listening to Christmas music. The song choice has more to do with the fact that "Jesus lays down his sweet head" as she is putting her head on her pillow just like baby Jesus did. And because of her love of Jason Mraz's song "I'm Yours" where he plays a guitar when he performed it on Sesame Street, the instrumental version of "Away in a Manager" has a violin playing. She sure loves her music. That is one thing I think Stephanie really, really misses. She was able to have music therapy in her home once a week but that ended last summer and it has yet to resume. Sure wish I had been gifted with some musical talent. I was able to get my musical credit for college by taking an Intro to Piano class and that is as far as my musical career went. Happy with my A in that class but I am pretty sure I can no longer play (or read) any music.
Here is the story on TMJ4, Milwaukee