9 January 2001
We were visiting a friend who has three daughters. Her 4 1/2 year old was very sweet in wanting to play with Sascha. She showed me her "shop set"-christmas present with a cash register and a shopping basket with small packs of food. I called Sascha's attention to the toys as we have been playing "shopping" in his Son-Rise playroom. The two children sat opposite one another and played shopping. I sat behind Sascha and encouraged him to give the packs of food to the girl Malva and say "Here, I would like to buy this". He didn't look at her, but he did sit there as long as it took to play the whole game twice. Once he was the cashier receiving the food and then they switched. It was Malva who didn't want to do it any more after that.
10 January 2001
Sascha asked to play on my violin. It could have been inspired from seeing the Snowman film. As he showed signs of wanting to really play I went to get a smaller violin. He played with the bow in a pretty constructive way. I could guide his bow arm much longer than I have ever been allowed before.
He asked to see the Snowman film. We watched it once and then he put it off showing sings of starting to cry like he had done the other times we had watched it. I told him that he could watch it again, but he put it off any way. He used the words I had used a few days earlier when I didn't want to see it yet one more time and said "It's too tiring to see it again". After a moment of stillness he suggested that I read the book for him which I did. Then he suggested that we go up and play the snowman story in his room. It seems that he is starting the learn how to deal with his discomforts, by playing, having someone read or making clay figures of all the people in the story.
He asked me to blow up a balloon and ran away while I was doing it. I asked him why he ran away and he could answer :"Because Sascha is afraid". I suggested a fuller sentence like: " I am afraid that the balloon might pop".
This evening when Sascha's dad came home after being away for three days. I could feel that Sascha was happy. His dad asked him if he was happy and he said Yes. When he asked him why he was happy he said: "Because daddy has come. YES!!!
19 January 2001
Here is a summary I wrote to a friend who hasn't heard from us in months:
"Sascha is doing really, really well. He is more present with us, can contain himself in busy surroundings for 20-30 minutes rather than 4-5 minutes as was the case 6 months ago. He definitely talks more and more for every day and is very hungry to learn. One of our volunteers is a Montessori preschool teacher. She is with him for nearly four hours every Friday afternoon. She has his attention all the time. She says that for longer and longer moments she is forgetting that she is working with a special child because the interaction is so flowing. This week Sascha started his big checkup at the Child Rehabilitation Center. We were all surprised at how well he did answering test questions about intellect and language in a non Son-Rise environment. Still there is a lot of ground to cover and I feel assured that he will get there."
2 February 2001
For practical reasons Sascha needs to go with me to the postoffice. Not an ideal situation, but much easier to handle today than seven or eight months ago.
There is snow on the ground. As always Sascha gets hypnotized by the snow. He sits down and eats it. I say in an inspiring way: "Hurry, hurry, we are going to the postoffice." Sascha replies: "Is daddy gloomy, angry and boring?" I understand what he is saying and ask him: "Why do you think daddy is gloomy, angry and boring?" Sascha reply is immediate: "Because daddy says: Hurry, hurry".
During the tests at the Child Rehabilitation clinic they showed him a series of photos of people doing obvious mistakes. They asked Sascha: "What is wrong in the picture?" Sascha laughed at the pictures clearly understanding what was wrong but he could not express it in words. He simply said: "It is wrong because it is wrong".
Now we have got our own set of the same cards. I am working with him in his Son-Rise playroom giving him a simple model of how to answer the question "What is wrong in the picture?"
"One cannot eat soup with a fork. One needs to have a spoon."
"One cannot put rolls in a washing machine. One needs to put them in the oven."
Sascha gets it immediately and shows clearly that he knows what is wrong on most of the cards. We take turns asking each other the questions and I vary my answers to show him different ways of answering the question.
11 February 2001
We have had a period of intense work in the Son-Rise playroom with several volunteers. We have a volunteer meeting. We ask our volunteers what they have seen happen since the last volunteer meeting two weeks ago:
Definitely more eye-contact
Increased span of concentration, he can now listen to a book without pictures for at least 20 pages.
He understands the concept of profession.
He can now stand on one leg, with both legs, for more than a second or two.
He can now play a whole scale on the piano with one finger.
Sascha now takes more and more initiatives: "Can we play Whose There?"
Less isming and running around
One of our volunteers using Montessori materials with him says that for long times she forgets that she is working with a special child and that Sascha is very clever with letters, reading and spelling.
12 February 2001
Sascha and I went to a restaurant for lunch. It is a restaurant he knows well. It was lunch time and quite busy. He chose his food from a buffet which I put on his plate. We went to our table. I left him there on his chair and went to get food for myself, I was not sure if it was going to work. He was out of my sight (in a safe place) for a few minutes. I got back, he was still sitting on his chair eating his food! When I had finished eating I had to feed him and encourage him to be on his chair. But it worked, no ism, no fuss and we were having a little simple conversation.
14 February 2001
Today, in the room Sascha used an expression I have never heard him used before. We were doing something, I could see that Sascha's energy was going somewhere else. I waited to see what would happen. Suddenly Sascha says: "Let's do something else".
Sascha is getting very good at identifying melodies that I play for him on the guitar or recorder. Also he likes when I accompany him on the guitar. Sascha sings the songs he knows well and I play a simple accompaniment. He likes it, sings very well in tune for being six years old and it sounds beautiful.
20 March 2001
Today I got back into the room with Sascha after a week of not being able to be in there with him.
We looked at sequencing cards. He really likes looking at pictures and describing what he sees. We say: What’s happening in this picture?
Later we were on the matress. He wanted to jump on me. I had him say the correct full sentence before he got to do that: "Mummy, I want to jump on you." He has difficulty saying the underlined words. Of course I am careful with my body and I also really try and give him what he wants if he says the right sentence at least three times. He is such a good boy repeating those sentences again and again.
He hugged me and I asked him if he was hugging me and then why. He said: Because I like me. Then he initiated a game where we were mice and he said: "Sch?" pointing with his finger at his mouth. Then I introduced cats that sounded very loudly. He loved that. Then he led me back into the mouse hole. We played back and forth and even were dogs. It was really fun. For an intense short moment it really felt like we were totally playing together. Then we played a more rough game of shaking each other around. We pretended being thieves (like in the Karlsson-on-the-roof story). He really likes it a lot when I’m very rough with him, quite physically tiring.
Later after my lunch I fed him lunch in his room while we were looking at a game with a shop. Before that I had him read a new book with two short sentences on each page. He read with ease.
I read the shopbook and asked him what was happening in the pictures. As he has just heard the text he can make use of the words and sentences he has just heard.
We played shop a long time. He now asks: "How are you doing today?" and answers to that question, sometimes saying that he doesn’t feel so well.
We put stickers on each other one saying: "I, mine, me" and the other "You, yours you".
31 March 2001
A few new things have been popping out of Sascha, delighting us with his little surprises:
We were getting him ready for the fact that we were both going to be away working. Grandma and Grandpa were coming to baby sit. At one point Sascha said. Is Sascha going to be afraid when mummy and daddy go away. Later we got the explanation to his fear. He was afraid that thiefs would come while we were away just like in the Karlsson on the roof story. He also explained that if Grandma and Grandpa were here then the thieves couldn’t come.
His ability to retell what has happened has immensely improved. From not being able to say anything to now being able to tell quite a lot so that we can actually understand. When I came home from work I asked him what he had done with our volunteer. I had absolutely no idea, but Sascha told me that they had thrown materials and danced or moved their bodies. He could also tell me where he had left a certain toy when I asked him where he had put it. Wow!
Two days later I came home from work and told Sascha that we were going to go out. He got himself dressed on his own. Then I told him to close the zip on his boiler suit and he said that I had to do it. As I was busy I told him that he could do it. Sometimes he does it, sometimes he doesn’t but his time I heard him say: You have done it yourself and rightly so he had pulled up the zip himself.
Later on the playground a neighbouring boy came to play. He is very talkative and looks for contact a lot. He asked Sascha if he could jump from a high place on the slide. Sascha answered No. I asked why and he said "Because you can hurt yourself. Then the boy suggested that they jump from a lower place. They did. The boy wanted them to jump at the same time so I suggested that they count to three. The second time they did it on their own. Then Sascha was following the boy around the playground pretty much imitating what he was doing.
Yesterday Sascha went to the dentist with his dad to have a tooth filled (one more to go). In the evening I asked him about the event and we had quite a talk about it. Just the fact that he could retell that event so much later is a big progress. I asked him how he felt at the dentist and he said good when the tooth was repaired. He told me also that the mouth had gone to sleep (anaesthetics). He was very happy to tell me that he had got a present, Terrence the tractor from Thomas the Tank Engine stories. He had also got the tunnel that Henry got stuck in and the wall. I asked him how many presents he had got and he correctly counted to three.
We forgot to get him to pee before going to bed. But a few hours later in his sleep he got up and went to pee on the toilet and went back to bed and went on sleeping! That is the first time!
His difficulty to pooh was so clearly stress related (stress from the dentist experience).
He has loved looking at the verb tenses pictures. When we started with that book he didn’t know how to say the verbs in past tense. Now he knows how to say them
16 May 2001
We, Sascha's parents, are having a serious talk about our work with Sascha. More than a month has passed with little work in the room. We realise that our visit with Sascha to the medical authorities a few months ago took us down. We had held the unrealistic hope for them to enthusiastically embrace of our Son-Rise program. We realised that the staff are overworked and doing their best to cope. We decide to discontinue our monthly meetings with them as the meetings drained us of energy. We bless the staff in our hearts and decide to find our own energy to continue doing Son-Rise.
To make matters worse, for different reasons, several volunteers have been unable to continue working with Sascha. Our one volunteer will be able to do a lot more work during the summer, however.
In my mind I remember a line from the Son-Rise Start-Up course: "If you don't find support, use your own passion:" My wife said she could do three hours a day in the room. We work out our schedules and get the three hours to work every day I am home to be with our daughter. We find another mother to help with our daughter as well as my parents. We decide to only look for support among people who totally support our Son-Rise program.
6 August 2001
Today it is exactly one year ago since I returned from the Son-Rise start-up in Chicago. It seems like a good day to update this progress page. Keeping up a web page while doing Son-Rise plus all other activities of life is not easy. But here are updates dating back to March.
In short, Sascha is still growing and developing! His language is improving all the time and he has moved miles since four months ago. He also reads pretty well in Swedish and some in English as well.
He is much, much better at handling chaotic situations like going to a party, to a store or to town. This means that he learns also outside the playroom, although there is nothing like the Son-Rise playroom for really effective learning.
Sascha is for the most part an absolute pleasure to have around. He is loving, affectionate, humorous and communicates in words most everything that he wants. He is also able to communicate to us how he feels and concerns he has. To us as parents the subtle developments in language over the last months makes him a quite communicative person today. It is such a gift to be able to talk to him. HE TALKS! He also communicates pretty well with other adults who give him the proper focused attention and can understand his sometimes awkward sentence construction.
As for what is left to work on: He still does not really play with other children of his age although there have been moments of interaction with other children. His sentence construction is sometimes awkward, people who don't know him do not always understand what he is trying to say. He still often forgets to getting the personal pronouns right. He can still get into verbal isms - and other isms - for long periods of time.
A few weeks ago he started asking Why-questions: "Why do I have to go to bed?" "Why is the car broken?" He doesn't even stop after the first answer but asks again. We never thought this day would come.
In retrospect it is totally clear that the decisions made the 16 May where the right ones. Since them we have been able to give Sascha 3-8 hours in the room a day on the average of 3-4 days a week. Not as much as we would want but a lot more than the month preceding the 16 May.
The new photo of Sascha was taken 22 July 2001 and shows better than anything else how our young son is coming to terms with life.
Going on holiday with Sascha
We've been on our annual visit to the island of Gotland in the Baltic sea. We've been going there every summer since Sascha was 1 1/2 years old. It’s really like a landmark, because we go to the same place. This year has been especially exciting, because we could enjoy his new found peacefulness (achieved through one years work in the Son-Rise playroom) in relating to the world.
On the five hour long boat journey Sascha liked to walk around the boat holding hands instead of us running after him. He could play in the playroom on the boat with all the other kids around him. On the journey back I even managed to get him to focus on playing with his little car on a road mat and go to the different places drawn on it like the church, play ground, hospital etc...
Now and then there where children in his way. Sascha just went around them, which is a major shift.
On Gotland Sascha handled well that we were doing things differently from the previous years. He did not get anxious or ritualistic. He simply became more verbal about what he wanted. We camped for the first time and Sascha helped carry the things from the car.
On the beach he was able to somewhat keep track of where he was in the water and keep close to us. We needed to remind him and sometimes physically bring him back, but he wasn't uncontactable like the previous years. We stayed at a youth hostel with lots of other people around unlike previous summers when we have had our own little house. Sascha really enjoyed being in the common kitchen where everybody came and went. He said: I like it when she comes about a lady who was there cooking.
He ate his food mostly without help. He still had a drive to run off to places that he wanted to check out. We told him that he had to tell us if he wanted to go somewhere. We kept a very close grip on both our children making sure that either one of us adults were with them. So when Sascha was in our room with one of us he had to learn to say that he wanted to go to the other parent who was in the kitchen. It did work eventually. Not that we relied on it, but it’s definitely the first step in a new direction that we will be giving more energy to.
One very big difference we noted from last year is that Sascha says the pronouns right more often and spontaneously without help. Now we only need to say: Who’s doing what to whom?" for him to get it right. That’s a huge shift from last year. WE FEEL VERY VICTORIOUS ABOUT THAT. This really inspires us, because we just get the proof that with persistency, passion, joy and humour (wow, have we used a lot of humour to get him to say "I" about himself) we can help him to learn things.
When he woke up in the mornings he would say: Good morning Mummy!" or "Good morning Daddy!". Versus a year ago when he would say: Hello Sascha.
The first time we walked to the beach through very beautiful and peaceful nature Sascha said: I love you . Just those words, pronouns right and everything. Then he would go on to saying You love me.
When we went shopping Sascha's dad started a new game of having him read things in the shop. Sascha’s reading skills have improved greatly since our volunteer has invented a great reading game in the room. Reading of the packages in the shop kept him focused and he obviously enjoyed it.
When Sascha's two and a half year old sister, cries Sascha gets very disturbed and hits her if not stopped. He now says: "I don’t like it when she cries". That situation gets intense in the car. I’ve suggested that he shut his eyes and cover his ears.
Something else new was that Sascha has started talking about when he was small and the different things that happened then. The new thing was him using the right tense in Swedish.
7 October 2001
I am home again after having been on the Son-Rise Maximum Impact training in USA for a week. Sascha's grandparents and our assistant from the summer helped make it possible. It was great, wonderful and gave lots and lots of ideas for the work with Sascha.
We have managed to get permission to postpone Sascha starting school for one year. Sascha will turn seven years old in few weeks.
6 November 2001
Again we find ourselves in the grim reality of having an impossible situation and no support. Just like 16th of May. We have applied for Local Government money to pay for assistants as we have not found any volunteers. But it takes time. Our last stable volunteer left for her studies in the end of August. The last two months have been chaos in our house. We have been unable to provide Sascha with continued time in the room. He cannot handle himself and is very difficult to manage. He runs around, destroys things because he can't handle himself.
We realize that we have to do the impossible again. Two parents, two children giving Sascha 6-8 hours in the Son-Rise playroom everyday. I will work from at home for a few weeks so it should work. We create a schedule which nearly in minutes regulate our activities every day 8.00-20.00 (8 am-8 pm). We create different schedules for different scenarios: Both of us at home weekday, both of us at home weekend, me working away from home, my wife working away from home.
The both-at-home-on-weekday schedule looks like this:
7.00 Get up, eat breakfast, prepare breakfast for Sascha
7.40 Wake up Sascha, take him through the bathroom to his Son-Rise playroom where he gets dressed and eats breakfast with me. Then we do Son-Rise work
8.00 My wife leaves with our daughter to our child minder and goes for a walk.
9.00 My wife takes over in the room and I go and work in my home office.
11.40 I start preparing lunch and fetch my daughter a tday care.
12.30 I bring my lunch and Sascha's lunch up to the Son-Rise playroom. My wife goes to eat with our daughter in the kitchen.
13.30 My wife takes both children outside. Sascha has now been in the room for almost six hours. I go and work.
15.30 My wife is back and we take turns (every other day) going into the playroom.
16.30 My wife goes into the room. I spend time with my daughter and prepare dinner.
17.30 We all eat dinner together.
18.00 Kids have free time (in worst case they can watch a video or play with the computer). Parents have parent time.
19.30 My wife prepares Sascha for bed and takes our daughter to bed. I work.
20.00 My wife reads for Sascha and take him to bed.
21.00 I take over if Sascha is not a sleep yet. If the circumstances are lucky this means parent time.
22.30 We are all asleep.
It feels overwhelming but all other alternatives are worse. My wife and I decide to go for it.
13 November 2001
A week later we can see that our schedule basically works. Sascha responds wonderfully and comes back to life again. The Son-Rise playroom is indeed a magic place for our Sascha. We feel relieved although the undertaking is super intense.
1 December 2001
Today, I had to take Sascha to the supermarket for a big weekly shopping. There was no other logistical solution. I saw it like a challenge I wanted to succeed at.
At breakfast, in our Son-Rise playroom, I made our shopping list, from notes, on a paper stuck on cardboard. I asked Sascha to read every entry which he did. Then I told him that I wanted him to help me cross the things off the list when we had bought them in the supermarket.
We arrive at the supermarket, the biggest in our city. It is busy, a few weeks before Christmas. Sascha holds my hand. Then he sees a Christmas tree. He rushes of and dances around it loudly singing Christmas songs. I take a deep breath. People around think it is cute. I know it is an "ism" and I am not yet prepared to "join" him in this public place. I go to him, show the list and say with lots of enthusiasm: "Sascha, shall we go and buy some bananas". To my surprise he comes. In the supermarket I keep him busy at first pushing the trolley (also to strengthen his arms).
My list strategy works wonders. He reads on the list and crosses out. We talk more than any other parent and child in the entire supermarket! At my suggestion, he actually asks an attendant where a product is. The attendant takes him for totally normal, gives the answer and Sascha understands. Coming through the first third of the list I realize how much time this is going to take. After shopping for more than an hour we arrive at the cashier with a full trolley. He managed it totally, full concentration in a busy environment for more than an hour. But now he is tired. The cashier is a critical place because I can't be on top of him. Now it takes a little "bribe"- "Please sit here and we can have a little orange juice in the car" - to make it work. It works just fine!
This was a landmark event where he managed so many things in a busy environment. For hours I was in total disbelief over the fact that it had worked.
Sascha loves dressing up. On this photograph is one very striking dress up. Sascha is a tiger.