A friend of ours gave a train set a ~year ago. DS had shelved it for a long time not wanting to do anything with it. We have now better counsel to understand that it is not that DS hates those things; he was just feeling inadequate with complexity - DM had very nicely explained what we continue to do with him to develop him in this area in her post.
Last month, DS had looked at the model picture and assembled the train-set. He did so without losing patience or getting tensed.
This was our goal a ~year ago... We believe, one of the aspects of independent living is to able to read clues, find help (instruction) from the eco-system around you - people, books, net etc. Our micro derivation from that macro was, for example, he will need to read at instructions (or picture) and be able to do as per instructed. Add to his ability of able to google, assembling from picture is the next step; the future ones would be is read instructions of the manual. He already does some of it, in cooking from a recipe book.
We are focusing more and more on the process and not results - So DM is breaking a lot of stuff into micro-process. Its like the Cynefin problem solving domain in the complex process - when the cause and effect are not directly connected. I kind of explain it as when you put up multiple coloumns, they dont seem to make sense, but at a certain height, a floor appears; then close out the outer coloumns, a building appears. For us the micro-process is like that.
Last summer, DM started on some academics - history, science, using the micro-learning process. In parallel, we also worked on his ability to cook his own food. DS cut veggies at night, and prepared the rice in the morning, he poured idli for his breakfast, DM keeps it int he stove; once cooked, DS need to take out his idlis for his BF; and pack his own lunch - mixing the rice and veggies.
When talking about this to a friend of ours, he said these are things that we did NOT do when we were at DS' age. That is the point of micro-process thing for us. We (as NT) didn't need to, because we had the ability to learn from our surroundings; but for DS it isn't that easy. We need to teach him the process; and the process itself cannot be overwhelming - its needs to micro enough. As he builds a lot of data (or experiences), we see that functional understanding emerging in him, as he suddenly starts to make the connections. Once he makes the connections, the internalization happens.
A simple instance of how he is connecting is this: DS wanted to write an update to his friends. He asked us "why should i repeat the same in multiple mails, why cant i send it to all ?". Then talking aloud, he himself realized that he is addressing the mail with "name" and some information/data very specific to the person... and also writing something unique for each friend makes each friend special/close. Once he got that, he asked us a lot of questions around family, immediate family, extended family, relatives and distant relatives and how that concentric circle worked !
Not sure, if I've articulated our process clearly :-), but wanted to blog this.
Ah one other thing - the time he starts making connection is this - you'd really find it strange - we go on a long drive - make it a point at least once a week - usually aimlessly drive around back-roads, so that we explore the areas, but importantly, also talk as a family. DS tells us stories during these rides - the stories are basically his own experience fictionalized with different names and settings; and we need to repeat the stories; we've improved the repetition of stories from verbatim to telling the same story from our perspective (mom and dad fictionalized). We too tell stories, where we reiterate some of his journey and how far he has come... These rides are so valuable that this is where these data points come together him cogently; the light comes on !