Thursday, March 21, 2013

Alex's Adventures at Story Time

I want Alex to do things I want to do. This means I have to do what he needs me to do to be able to do what I want to do. Kind of a you scratch my back and I'll scratch yours kind of thing. I'm cool with that. Why should he do everything I want if I don't do everything he wants, right?

I wanted to go to Story Time at the library.

I packed his backpack. Toys, sippy cup, Cheerios. This is what he wants. This is what makes him happy. We pack up and head to the library. In the parking spot, I turn around and tell him what we're doing. "Are you excited!?" He gives me a disgusted look and grunts at me. Well, I'm excited. The Little D is excited. Sister may not be excited but she's ready. We go in and return the books then head over to the Story Time room because we're later than usual and getting books will have to wait. I stepped back to the doors and gave him a safe square to pace and explore. He knows what the room we're waiting for is and he's ready to go in so I count down the three minutes until the light comes on and Lisa opens the door.

We go to the front of the room and sit off to the side so we won't be in the way of the other children. I sit with Alex between my legs and set out the cup and Cheerios. Just out of his reach. and this week is Doreen Cronin's birthday! That means we get to hear several of her books including Click Clack Moo Cows that Type- one of my favorites!

We sit back to listen to the stories, I get several Cheerios in my hand and offer them to Alex. He leans back against me (NEW!), relaxes into me and munches while he listens. Not a peep, not a fidget. No squirming, no screaming. He just sits back and lets me hold him while she tells him stories. I don't have to tell you how big this is on so many levels! He didn't just let me touch him, he let me HOLD him. He didn't just sit in front of me, he leaned INTO me. He didn't just survive Story Time, he ROCKED IT! and in a few seconds, you will see that it wasn't just his mood, it was me he was reacting to. It was all about the give and take of meeting needs. I met his just the way he likes it, he met mine just the way I like it.

When Story Time was over and most of the kids left, I walked him up to the table to pick a sticker. "Want one?" He looked over the stickers for a minute and chose Buzz. I opened the sticker and he watched me put it on his chest with a slightly smug smile that told me he was proud of himself and recognised that the sticker was a reward for a job well done. We gathered our things and walked toward the door. Lisa called out a goodbye and thanks for coming. I asked Alex if he wanted to say goodbye. He looked at her and thought about it but just wasn't ready to go that far. and Lisa was ok with that. She understood. and this is one of the many, many reasons I love our librarian :)

We left the room and walked over to the library to get books. Mommy offered to sit with Alex. He was doing so well, I accepted the offer. I handed him off, gave her his stuff and told her that if she didn't hold her hand out for the cup, he would throw it when he was done. If she didn't hand him the Cheerios a few at a time, he would splash in them. She said she understood and I walked off to help the kids gather books.

I grabbed 6 semi-random books for myself because they were right around the corner, the Little D got his own, I helped him find some for Goofy and picked out some girly books for the sister. Once we finished, I went to get Alex. and walked up on a scene from my worst nightmares. Cheerios. everywhere. and I mean everywhere. and a stranger picking them up while Mommy held a squirming Alex who decided hair pulling was his newest renewed passion. I helped pick up the Cheerios and thanked the helpful lady so very much.

I took Alex into the stacks. Alex loves books. He is his mother's child, after all. But we need board books. and we need COOL books. Like, Elmo. and Dora. and Good Night, Moon. I sat him in the chair beside the board books and showed him a few one at a time... "You want that?" *nod* "You want that?" *groan/grunt*... one by one we chose the books he wants to take home with him. I left all of them with Mommy again while I checked out the books we chose and it was time to leave. Alex walked nicely to the car. He got nicely in his seat. He sat nicely while we took Mommy and Sister home. When we got home, he wanted everyone to leave him the hell alone and bolted for his bedroom. Every one left him the hell alone and no blood or tears were shed.

There are several ways I worked with Alex to get to this point. I make sure he has what he needs, I give him everything he wants BUT, his diagnosis is not an excuse for bad behavior. You don't throw your cup. If you don't want to hold it, that's fine. Hand it to me. No matter how many times I have to pick the cup up, put it back in your hand and ask you if you are all done while I hold my hand out or hand over hand hand myself your cup. You don't get to throw your cereal. If the full bowl bothers you, that's fine, I will hand you an amount you like, an amount that doesn't overwhelm you. You don't get to hit. You don't get to pull hair. No means no. No means bad. You don't get to run around and act like a wild child. You don't want to be here, we will leave. You want to be here, you will sit. No seat belt means the car stops until you are back in your seat with the seat belt on. No matter how many times we have to stop. I will do anything you want me to do. I will do anything, anything you need me to do. but I will not allow bad behavior.

If you want something, you have to work for it. You have to teach them. Over and over and over. It may take weeks or months or years but they are not going to learn if you don't put the effort in. and in that moment when they finally get it, when you realize that all of the time you spent working with them just clicked, when you see that smug smile because they know they nailed it, you know without a doubt that believing in them was totally worth it.