The Mr. Fred Maneuver and other Tactics

As mentioned over the weekend, Joey was part of a music therapy program concert.

He put his fingers in his ears, his longstanding sign of non-cooperation. Then he smiled, which means “I’m going to make this into a game.”

He wouldn’t walk up from our seats to the stage when it was his time to perform. So I had to escort him. Bribery was employed. “You’re working for ice cream,” I growled, letting him know that his post concert treat was in jeopardy if he didn’t give the minimal effort of remaining on stage for his part of the program.

He put his fingers in his ears, smiled and began to walk back to the seats, so I physically redirected him, taking him by the elbow, pointing him back to the stage, and reasserting the “ice cream” bribe. He complied.

IMG_20140411_192930_719But he kept smiling and trying to make eye contact with me. I knew that if we locked eyes, I would be caught in the game and he would run off the stage just to mess with me. So I resorted to the “Mr. Fred Maneuver.” This is a tactic named for a wonderful home therapist who worked with Joey back in California. Mr. Fred used it to suppress repetitive speech, for example, Joey asking the same question about a Disney musical lyric over and over rather than doing the task the therapist was trying to lead.

The Mr. Fred Maneuver is to make a huffing sound while looking away from Joey and bringing your fist to your chest, like a Roman imperial (or is that Klingon?) salute. Like this:

IMG_20140411_194743_111

It worked. Joey stayed on stage and at least whispered some lyrics from “This Land is Your Land” while the music therapist accompanied on guitar.

I’m reminded that coyotes are very smart critters. Ranchers have to keep updating and alternating the defenses of their flocks and herds, because the coyotes figure things out and change their varmint strategies. Yeah, developing techniques to keep an autistic kid cooperating is like what the ranchers have to do.

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