Find Out What Jen Finds

My journey on the spectrum of life … and the lessons I learn along the way …
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about Excuses: Reasons to Celebrate!

  • May 24, 2010 9:52 pm

I recently started a list on my phone called ‘Phrases that totally worked.’ I add to it whenever something surprisingly effective comes out of my mouth for the first time without my having a whole lot of forethought. Most are in the Parenting category. When I see it has ‘worked,’ I often go through shock & awe, and then pat myself on the back and pray it works the next time. Here is my favorite so far:

“Stop making excuses and follow my directions.”

This resulted in immediate compliance with NO lingering foul mood. I know! I had to inconspicuously pick my jaw off the floor and replace the ‘I’ve Had It’ adult-whine posture with a more confident ‘That’s Right…I’m the Boss…and I Totally Plan to Say Smart Stuff Like that all the Time cause I’m Smart and all’ stance.

I realized The Elder had reached a developmental milestone!

“…children master a variety of alternative strategies for resolving conflict. They can cajole the adversary, use bargaining, suggest compromise or cooperation (like turn-taking), and redirect conflict through humor.”

The School Years: Psychosocial Development – Social Problem-Solving Skills. The Developing Person Through The Life Span – (Berger)

So what’s the big deal? All 1st graders have mastered the art of manipulation, right? Yes! It’s ‘normal’! Yay! I haven’t decided if I’m more excited about his being developmentally on track or about his finally catching up with his nonverbal abilities!

For so long The Elder didnt say anything longer than 2-3 word phrases and only when prompted (and re-prompted). If he needed to initiate communication, it was physical and completely unrelated to his desire or need. For example, instead of pointing to a drink if he was thirsty, he would strip naked or throw his glasses across the room. It was as if he was fed up that no one was attending to his mental request after repeatedly thinking it. ‘Come on, people! If I’ve telepathically tried to connect with you once, I’ve done it a thousand times. It goes in my ear and out your ear! What do I have to do to get heard around here? Sheesh.’

When he was finally verbal, I heavily relied on listening to everything he would say in order to fully understand his triggers. And after some super-sleuthing, it would often fill in the gaps of why past meltdowns occurred. It was fascinating to finally learn the Reasons for his behaviors.

“How children think is as important as what they know.”

The School Years: Cognitive Development – The Legacy of Piaget. The Developing Person Through The Life Span – (Berger)


His Reasons were always literal (raw is more accurate) and logical (tho not obviously connected). While the former is to be expected, his logic far surpasses his age level. When he was 3 he tested beyond Kindergarten (he actually beat the test because it ran out of questions). At 4, his age equivalence was 11 years, 9 months. Because of this, I think there were a lot of unfair expectations for him to be more pragmatically mature. That discrepancy has been hard to parent, especially before awareness, but I imagine it is even harder to have.

Because of early intervention and inclusion, I think that gap is closing as he practices conversational skills. I noticed that his barrage of Reasons became Excuses when I, The Mom, couldn’t find an underlying connection between his words, body language, and past experiences. The usual and oh-so-confusing ‘complacent’ or ‘defiant’ reactions would then be displayed with integrity.

Do you know how freeing that feels? My brain gets to put the magnifying glass down more often…at least until adolescence…knock on wood…

about Perspective (Part 1): What would you do? How would you feel?

  • February 26, 2010 1:47 pm

Imagine you are a teacher of 20 elementary-school aged children and are also 37-weeks pregnant. In the middle of the hustle and bustle of a classroom party, one your students all of a sudden flees the room without you noticing.

Imagine you are a substitute for a teacher who is on a 6-week leave. Without warning, one of your students begins crumpling and ripping up all of his papers.

Imagine you are the parent of a 1st grader. You get a call from the school to come get your child. You learn that he has developed a large knot on his head because another child threw a chair that hit him.

Imagine you are the Principal of a primary school. A student has been brought to you for disrupting the classroom. He spits at you, disrobes, and urinates on the floor in your office.

Imagine you are the parent of that child.

Imagine you are that child.

This is Part 1 of a series of articles on Perspective. I have been procrastinating addressing a controversial topic, but because I don’t want to default on my New Year’s Resolution, I decided to take baby steps.

If you choose to share your thoughts, please post on the original post where you can also choose to post anonymously. Please be honest, especially with yourself…

about the World Autism Awareness Day Challenge

  • April 2, 2009 11:02 am

I challenge YOU to donate $1 $10 today to the

ASD Athletes Capital Campaign!

Now you can also dedicate your donations to a loved one just by filling out this form.

Donate here by clicking on the ChipIn button. You do not need a paypal account to donate. Thanks!

Visit asdathletes.org for more information