June 10, 2011
Chef took his glasses to school today!
He also brushed his teeth, and it seemed as though he would take his lunch - he opened the freezer, put his hand into the freezer, paused, was reminded he needed to be out for the bus, removed his (empty) hand, closed the freezer door, walked slowly over to the fruit baskets, picked up a mango and a grapefruit, picked up his glasses, went outside, and started doing some morning exercises. I'll need to explore the "hand reaching into the freezer, removing still-empty hand from freezer without lunch item" with him later. When I intially asked him about it this morning, he said he pulled out his hand because he heard me talking and knew he had to look at my eyes so he closed the freezer door so he could see me. Excellent listening skills recall! The only problem is that he was already going towards the fruit as he closed the freezer door. So maybe "listening skills" was the initial message in his brain but the thought of picking up the fruit interrupted? I asked if his hand couldn't have just picked up the lunch item while it was right there, or did he just not want to take that in his lunch. He said he didn't know.
Last night, after yet another evening of not doing dishes, I asked Chef to sit outside by me while I worked on some deck-gardening. We talked about goals. Chef said his goal is to go to school - excellent life goal! I started asking him questions about the various steps involved in going to school, and kept working backwards until we got back to taking care of one's body, taking care of responsibilities at home, etc. Chef said he didn't want to do jobs at home because he only wants a good job where he can earn lots of money. Of course, we reviewed the ol' "need to show success in small jobs before taking on big ones." I explained (again!) that not everyone likes doing every kind of job, especially when it comes to chores at home, but that they need doing regardless. Chef nodded and said that he doesn't want to do chores. I reminded him that he needed some way of paying back for items he's stolen/damaged. He looked surprised, as though he had forgotten that part. I asked him if he could think of other ways to earn money to repay for items in that category (one past idea was "to make a picture that you could buy from me then I'd give you some of the money" - and I'm pretty sure he seriously thought that was a workable plan! When I offered to do up a website where he could sell pictures, plus numerous other ideas offered to him for making money, he's never shown interest or a willingness to start on anything along those lines). We've explored this possibility before, but this time he just shook his head. I reminded him that the sooner he does some extra chores, the sooner he'd be caught up and the sooner he'd have more spending money. I also told him that I would love to support him in applying for part-time summer jobs this summer but he has to show a willingness to work at home first. He again said that he only gets a little money til then so he doesn't want to work.
If anyone has ideas in this area, feel free to share them! Right now, my approach is to continue to support him in learning through repetition. Incentives historically have not been beneficial (and generally "don't work" with children living with attachment disorder). In the meantime, if you plan on dropping by sometime this afternoon or this evening, bring your own clean cup ;-)
Someone reminded me of something the other day. When a child with attachment disorder is exhibiting some challenges that differ than usual or are of a higher degree, sometimes it's because there's been growth or that they are feeling a healthier attachment and that brings about a sense of fear/panic in them. I think sometimes we forget how scary it is for some kids when they're healing. Chef's grown alot this year. That's been evident in many areas.
When I used to work with adults with disabilities, we'd often talk about putting ourselves in the shoes of the adults for whom we provided support. One individual needed help in using the washroom and sometimes showed frustration in the washroom. Well, there may have been other reasons as well for the frustration, but I'd feel frustrated if I always needed help in that area every single time every single day. And every single day, Chef needs to figure out how to function in this world that he doesn't even understand in so many areas, and he has to do so with a brain that doesn't always function the way he needs it to function and with a perception that makes the world a very confusing place at times. For all these reasons, I believe Chef's doing very well.
But yes, he still needs to do the dishes ;-)
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.