Sunday, February 2, 2014

Doing It Right

When it comes to my boys, I always feel like I have to work harder, be smarter, do more. If they are not making progress, or making enough progress to reach my expectations, then it must be because I am not doing enough or I'm not doing it the right way. It has to be me. I am their mom, you know. It's my responsibility.

At some point you have to realize that you are doing everything that you can do.

Last night, while roaming Facebook I saw a post by Autism Discussion Page about Compensating for Executive Functioning Issues. Now, first of all, if you are not already following him- go do it. He's awesome and has lots of great information. In his post he explains,
"People with executive functioning issues usually have difficulties in the areas of attention, impulse control, working memory, planning and organizing, monitoring one’s own actions, and multi-tasking. Neuroscience is in the infancy stage in the area of brain plasticity, and strengthening the wiring in the areas of the brain that have weak connections. So, for individuals with ADD and ASD, most strategies have focused on finding ways to compensate for those weaknesses; building in strategies to work around the issues."
He goes on to give examples that include making modifications to the physical environment, task modification, and building individual coping skills. He talks about making habits and using visuals to develop strategies to compensate for our weaknesses. "To compensate for weak executive skills, we usually need to provide the function “externally” to substitute for what the brain cannot do “internally”, until we can teach an “automatic routine” (habit) to take its place." All things that we are already doing.

I watch my time with the Goofy One, and I see all of the work that we do.

In school, he's in a social skills class for classroom behaviors. They model the correct and incorrect behaviors, role play, and talk about what was done well and what they could work on next time. At home, we use Minecraft and Minecraft videos from TheDiamondMinecart to figure out what are and are not appropriate ways to interact with your friends. (Warning: he does use some dirty words. It doesn't bother me or Goofy but if you care about that sort of thing, he does use some here and there, even though he is pleasant to listen to.) We are still working on how one person can say these words in this way, and another person can say the exact same words in another way and only one is ok. We watch movies and talk about what is going on, predict what we think will happen, talk about why things are funny, how people might be feeling and how that leads to their actions. Last night, it was Ice Age- Diego was a very interesting one to talk about. Talking about why the humans murder mammoths and tigers... not so much fun... but, if I had explained it in the way that DiamondMinecart killed the clones to get the Legos, that may have went over better. I'll have to remember that next time, lol.

He goes to Occupational Therapy every other week, practices writing his spelling words every night, and draws pictures all the time. We put puzzles together, and do various hand strengthening exercises with that balloon filled with sand and play-doh. He's changing RtI classes from classroom social skills to one that works on handwriting skills.

The school sent home flash cards for sight words. I taped the ones he's already mastered to his wall to help him build confidence in his ability to read by seeing how many words he has already learned. We have been working on the flash cards he hasn't mastered a few at a time throughout the day. His teacher sends home printed out books for him to practice on and for 10 minutes every night, he reads those books. Some he can zip right through, those are good for confidence. Some he stumbles through and doesn't always get it just so but he tries. Some, I have to read to him. But for 10 minutes every night, we read. He reads on Minecraft. He searches youtube for his own videos. He's moved on from searching "CAT" to "Minecraft" and "KRAKEN" and "ZOMBIES" he doesn't get the words exactly right but he gets most of them close enough that he can find the video he wants. Well, not Kraken. But his dad couldn't find that one, either. Dad's like, "a what? what is that?"

Minecraft is also helping him with following directions and sequencing. First you do this, then you do that. You need this, this, and this to make this thing you want. First you have to find whatever and whatever, then you can make whatever. See? I know that has transferred to real life because he totally "teleported" the "clones" of his wall decorations to my door while I was sleeping. Every exact copy, I kid you not. He has visual schedules and routines, we've created rituals to make habits to get shit done. Everything has a place, and he knows where that place is and can follow his visual schedule with no problem. He still needs constant supervision and for the parts that don't have visual directions, has to be talked through step by step but we're doing it.

We have behavior charts and he rocks the rules, but there are places that rules don't apply like, you can't yell at your friends. If you yell at your friends, you have to take a break from the game and then comes the screaming and crying and head banging and YOU'RE SO MEAN, YOU SHOULDN'T TALK TO YOUR KIDS LIKE THAT! YOU'RE SUPPOSED TO LOVE YOUR KIDS! or when he's promised that he can watch a certain video after we finish homework and a little someone X's off the video before he can watch it and we start with the screaming and crying and collapsing in the floor and OMG, it's NOT FAIR! YOU SAID...! NOW I CAN NEVER WATCH IT AGAIN! See?

I figured out that I'm not lost. I can't find a direction to go in because we're already there. We are already doing everything that we can do. We are already working on everything that we should be working on. The right and wrong of the methods we use are nothing but opinion, the fact is we are doing it and we're doing it our way. Considering Alex seems to know it's Sunday because he's chanting his version of "school bus, school bus, yeah, yeah, yeah," doing his stim-dance and trying to repeat my "tomorrow." I'd say our way works.

Goofy needs help, but it's not at home.

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