We have had a fairly peaceful week at home. Chores and "attitude" are being addressed even more firmly than before - and it's "working." The degree to which Chef must miss out on things/events/comfort, etc., before it matters to him enough to make a difference is pretty incredible.
Chef is presently missing out on his free time in the evenings because free time comes after chores and responsibilities have been taken care of. Chef has chosen not to put his laundry in for the past couple of weeks, and most of his clothes have once again "disappeared." The clothing piece truly is a mystery at this point, since Chef almost always has someone in the same room with him here at home now. The best I can figure is that he is still slipping things into nooks and crannies in the storage room where the washer and dryer also live and where he often is by himself with myself or Chef's sister in the next room. Another possibility is that he is once again sneaking them into the garbage bag right before taking the garbage out. On Monday, he had at least five pairs of socks in his room. Last night he informed me that he has none left and doesn't know where they are. I reminded him that I've been reminding him to put them into the hamper and that he's been taking them there. "Yes, but they aren't in there now and I don't know where they are."
Chef has $12 in allowance from the past few weeks. ($2.minimum per week, $8. maximum if he takes care of his chores/responsibilities, with numerous opportunities to earn money through other ways at home). In order to receive his allowance on Saturday, he has to have completed his chores and needs to have not tantrummed or "given attitude" on Friday and Saturday. Hopefully this weekend will see us over at the thrift shop so Chef can buy a bag of rags (to replace the ones he's gotten rid of in his ongoing attempt to not have to do any chores) and more socks and other clothing items to replace the ones that have recently "disappeared." Compared to previous years, he has come such a long way in learning/understanding/accepting the natural consequences of his choices, learning how to be a contributing member of his family/community/society as a whole, etc - if only the hygiene and willingness to do chores would come along as well! Tantrumming continues to be a work in progress. It is clear that Chef is not "out of control" during his tantrums. It seems as though Chef specifically chooses to use tantrums.
Some of the other bigger pieces in past years have been going to school/wanting to just be at home and not do anything, stealing, lying, and hoarding.
What's Made A Difference?
Willingness to Go to School:
-Supportive school staff
-Computer Use at school
-"Not At All Fun" theme at home on days Chef doesn't attend school when expected
-Having an adult supportively velcroed to Chef at home,at school,in the community
(if Chef is on his own and there is something he sees that he wants, it's his)
-Chef does a "self-check" as soon as he walks in the door from school
-I often (not always) watch Chef get off the bus and walk to the house to ensure
he is no longer stashing stolen goods in the yard before coming inside
-A lock on my bedroom door, money kept put away
-Stolen items removed immediately upon discovery, expected resitution
-Having an adult supportively velcroed to Chef
-Chef also does "a self-check" before going upstairs at night, as well as one
when he returns to the main floor if he has been in the basement
-Regular room checks and careful kudos to Chef (because sometimes compliments go
the wrong way in Chef's mind) for any small successes
-Immediate removal and expected restitution for items
-When Chef is caught in a lie, he is reminded that we are all a team and that
a team works together. He is expected to return to the person to whom he
has lied and be truthful.
Overall, Chef appears to be much happier and calmer, and have a growing sense of awareness and pride, as he experiences successes in these areas with the required supports. He seems to have a stronger understanding and acceptance of what is acceptable (what works) and not acceptable (what doesn't work) when it comes to how Chef interacts with his environment and the people around him. The hope is that a lot of the rote learning will be habitual by adulthood so Chef has a few less issues to deal with as an adult in the world.
This blog was initially set up as a means of communicating with my son's team. Since then, I've heard from other parents with similar stories. If you are living with challenges or journeying alongside someone who is, you are not alone. There are many of us. I'm a single adoptive Mom (http://richesofsimplicity.blogspot.com/) of a young man who lives with many abilities and many diagnoses. We have journeyed together through many challenges and a few adventures over the years as my son has tried to find space in this world that makes him feel more comfortable, an attempt made especially difficult when living with Attachment Disorder, PDD-NOS (Autism), Developmental Coordination Disorder, ADHD, prenatal substance exposure, etc. Some of the strongest elements used in this journey have been music, visual arts, therapeutic parenting, team-connection, boundary-setting, boundary-setting, boundary-setting, communication skills, community-building, continual lifeskills training, and elements of Theraplay. (Click here for some written resources.) On this journey, there is laughter and tears and growth and hope. The greatest of these is hope.