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…

Alex – the vote heard ’round the world

  • June 4, 2008 8:23 pm

I have been doing a lot of reading on my Treo which does not allow posting or commenting, well at least not easily, because of a security issue so it warns you about 10-12 times before letting you can get to the screen to post a comment. Many times I’ll start putting a comment and then it would erase it. sigh…

My last few posts were posts that I felt like I either needed to do (like Success Sunday) or because if I didn’t, I would forget a personal incident before I had a chance to blog about it.

What I lament the most about not blogging lately is being behind at making my readers aware of news in the autism community. If you are in the autism community then this is not news. But I found a comprehensive list of readings from 2 blogs to catch you up on Alex Barton. Remember that posts are listed in reverse chronological order so to get the full scoop you have to scroll to the bottom to read it in order. Thanks to Angela and Bev (and others) for your advocacy.

There are so many reasons why this bothers me. Maybe because I have an almost 5-year old. Maybe because I knew that I didn’t want to send him to kindergarten next year. Maybe because I’m so deluded by the blessings we have received from The Teacher and not the The Gymnast (the new gymnastics teacher). Shoot the blessings we have received from just about everyone I’ve come into contact with since the beginning. The blessings of early intervention. I shudder to think where we would be right now if we hadn’t had the privilege of having little angels looking over us.

I recently spoke to a family friend whose 8yo son has ASD and is mainstreamed. They are still having issues because he didn’t “show signs” until he was four. So now without proper therapy and funding this poor child (and parents) are having a much more difficult time with this than they should if they were only provided with the care. Much of which is denied because of lack of awareness by both the medical and school professionals.

One of the biggest concerns we have as parents of special needs children is for them to be accepted as who they are. To be understood, and not to be judged. We do not need teachers to teach bigotry in kindergarten. Who give 5 year olds the permission and the power to demean another child. Towards anyone, but especially those who cannot necessarily defend themselves. We trust our children to teachers for a large portion of the day…

It just makes me sad and angry. I’m glad I finally got to blog on this, even if it isn’t as nasty as I originally had it in my head.