Employing the thumper rule
You have kids who stayed up too late watching a movie and then wake up too early on a Saturday?
Put them to work pulling weeds. We had to get the yard ready anyway for a cub scout family swimming party.
And if you have to be stuck at a railroad crossing in the middle of the day, it is always more fun when there are cool things on board.
It’s been a long but good day. Tomorrow we get to relax in the afternoon since we did the chores today to get ready for the party.
For as long as I can remember, we have always given J choices. “Would you like to wear this shirt or the other one?” “Peas or carrots?” It was never a question of do you want to wear a shirt or eat your vegetables. I taught other people to give him “two acceptable choices.” It is okay to say, “Would you rather sit at the table in class or sit in time out?” I don’t care if he picks time out if it is something you offered him.
We were doing “Love and Logic” before there was such a thing. We allow him to make as many choices as possible now so that when there isn’t a choice, the struggle is less. (well that’s the way it is suppose to work.) I learned early, before he was even two, that the battles weren’t worth fighting over the color of clothes or what we ate as long as we were dressed and fed.
Now we use questions to help him make behavior choices. In the car on the way to school, “What kind of day are you going to have?” (Great) “What does a great day look like?”
When he is escalating, “Are you planning to have electronics later on or would you rather do chores?”
When he is thinking about being destructive, “Do you have the money to replace that?”
I have been trying to coach the specialists at his school to do the same. Mrs. S and I have been modeling it for them. “J, is this the kind of behavior that gets you electronics after school?” “What do you need to do to earn your privileges?” “If you decide to leave school and be untrustworthy, will mom be able to take you on trips over school break?” The last one is a trigger right now. On the first day of school it was announced that the 6th graders were invited to go to Disneyland over Fall break as a school sponsored trip. For several reasons, J can not go. He is really upset about this. So I made a deal with him. If he can behave and keep getting his work done, then I will take him and his brother on a great trip over Spring Break. Besides perseverating on the trip he can’t go on, he has also been detailing a plan to leave school on days he really doesn’t want to be there.
In these moments, it is important to pose questions to him that break the loop in his brain. He has to think about the end results of his actions. The last question is the last resort because it is a long term goal. The other questions are short term goals. Last year though, he had a rough month and he would say things like, “no I don’t want electronics today! I’d rather keep doing (insert bad behavior.)” At that point the questions stop (sort of) and the consequences begin. I say sort of because the questions change, “Would you rather use a pooper scooper or a baggie to clean the yard?” The yard will get cleaned, no question about it.
This kid is why I spend as many hours working at the Scholastic warehouse sale as I can each year. They pay me in books. Since he is in middle school this year, he has to complete book reports instead of taking multiple choice quizzes for accelerated reader. The book report was designed to be used with a book the class is reading over the course of a week and asks for him to make a prediction. The teacher modified it for him and said he could choose his own book since he brings a stack with him everyday. So tonight I told him he had to use a book he’d never read to make a proper prediction. He says, “Only one problem mom, I’ve read everything in our house! ” That was my cue to go to the secret box and pull out one of my earnings from the spring. I think I’ve got enough to make it to the next sale.
The logical thing would be to get him to get new books from the library (public or school) but as a child who likes routine, he rarely picks anything new and just rotates his choices through a few favorites. He also likes to devour books he’s reading. He’ll read it through quickly (500 wpm ) and then reread it for a few days savoring and reenacting his favorite chapters. If he owns the book, he can do this on his own without having a deadline to turn it back in.
This year I gave him a rolling backpack/small luggage to take to school for that ever increasing stack of books he insists on taking every day. Trying to keep him from the back trouble 30+ lbs of books can cause.
Every time I clean out the rat cage they love to scamper around and make sure all their important stuff is where it belongs. At first they are all happy that everything is clean. Then they are agitated, “hey what’s with the new coffee boxes? I just got the old one chewed up to perfection! Gotta get started on this one.”
” What?! You moved my tubes out of place! Need to cover all my stuff with the tubes.”
Or how we’ve spent most Saturdays in the last year.
Last summer there was a post on a community facebook forum looking for neuro-typical swimmers to swim on a special Olympics team as Unified Relay partners. I had been looking for something Little J could do in the sports and athletics department. Truthfully most things out there would have overwhelmed our schedule and J would have hated being drug along. But I thought that if we went to Special Olympics for Little J then we might convince J to go to. J was pretty resistant until he found out a) There would be medals and b) If he went to State, he would get to miss school AND stay in a hotel. Hotel sold him on it.
So we started going every Saturday morning to practice. The great thing about the Special Olympics schedule is that there are only short Saturday practices, a local competition and a state competition for each sport. The time commitment fit into our lives nicely. To top it off, Mrs. S’s son T also wanted to do it. T is older than my boys and has other special needs but he and Little J are really good friends. Little J is allowed to participate as a partner which means he does not have any solo races. He is fine with that. J races in two races by himself because he was not a motivated relay participant.
After the local competition for swimming last year, the bowling season started. They decided to enter a unified 4 person team for the first time. So J, Little J, T and T’s sister Lala competed together. They were terrible but they had a great time. They got better as the season went on, better but not good. However, they did build stronger teamwork skills which was good since our two families spend so much time together. One of the cool things for the kids at the tournaments/meets is that the police department does the presentation of medals. They also do a torch run to raise funds and light a torch at the opening ceremonies.
After bowling we were firmly into the Vail Trailblazers family. We had a fun banquet for all the families and then started Basketball practice. Little J and Thomas decided to be on the team and thoroughly enjoyed themselves. I didn’t force J to to play because his bad attitude about teamwork would just bring everyone else down. Besides, he’s probably refuse to put his book down and get off the bench. Our team didn’t do well at the local competition but they won a hard fought gold medal at State in March. Little J loved basketball so much that I offered to find him a team to play on in the “off season” but he turned me down saying the Trailblazers were his only team.
After basketball came track but the boys couldn’t participate in the meets due to Little J being in Odyssey of the mind so just T and Lala went. However, J and Little J have decided they will definitely be doing it next spring with their friends.
That brings us full circle back to swimming. We are back in the pool this summer with Little J and Lala on unified relays. J swimming two races, T swimming 2 races and a relay. I started the summer as a parent volunteer while they worked on getting some new coaches on board. Those coaches never showed and I am now on the roster as a coach. (I do have a background in competitive swimming) I’ve been spending 2 hours every Saturday in the water with the team. If you want to cheer them on, their local competition will be at the Edith Ball Aquatics center on September 6th.
It has turned out to be a great year for us. Little J loves being on a no-stress team and J benefits from the exercise even if we have to coerce him. I am so grateful that we have found this group of people. There is support for the special needs and behaviors in our family, there is fun for Little J and his friends, there’s a sense of team pride without all the stressed out time commitments. If you’ve been looking for something low key for your neuro-typical kid or something challenging for your special needs child/adult and want more details, just send me a message. There are unified opportunities for all the sports our team does and a few other sports that other teams train for.
Pizza, popcorn and pajamas. All set for movie time at home. It has been awhile since the three of us could spend some down time together. We didn’t have little j all summer and once he got back we’ve been non-stop. We’re looking forward to some chill out time. Hopefully Antboy is a good movie. If not, we’ll console ourselves with dessert.
Today as we were leaving our neighborhood to go to school Little J commented on the Sun beams coming out of the clouds. He had a lot to tell me this morning and while I was a part of the conversation, what he had to say was better than anything I could have said. So I’m just going to give you his side.
Mom the Sun coming out of the clouds reminds me of Jesus shining down on us. I wish I knew what Jesus really looked like. I wish I could be one of the first to heaven so that I would be the first to see him. If he was here with me then I would ask him to heal me from my cough. I know I can pray, I do it all the time in my mind. I wish I could have been one of the kids that went to see Jesus, even though the disciples thought that they were bothering him but it doesn’t matter anyway Jesus loves you even if you are bothering him.