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…

First Day Back to School

  • January 8, 2008 4:55 pm

Well, the Winter Break is over and The Elder went back to school today. I had to work this morning and had my phone to go off in time for me to meet him at the bus and I just barely made it. It was a nice warm day today so they got to play outside on the playground which always makes for a happy preschooler.

I wrote a note to The Teacher this morning seeing if she could observe him at choir because that starts tomorrow but we are not going yet (plus his best buddy is having a birthday party!). She is going to try to clear it with the school board to see if she can. I tell you something, she is so amazing. It would be so easy for her to say, “No, that is outside of contract hours and it is not a contract school.” But she is going to try to get it cleared so she can help him. It is so obvious how much she loves the kids. I’m so lucky that mine is in her classroom.

He got Good marks across the board today which is fantastic considering he hasn’t been in school for 2 weeks, but am not surprised I suppose because he has been controlling himself very well lately and he is a huge creature of habit and routine. So am I, I suppose because I have had a very productive 2 days now that we are back in our normal routine. I did change my schedule around a bit to make Monday a work day so that I could start the week off right instead of moping around being sad about what didn’t get accomplished over the weekend and taking that out on The Younger by trying to make up time cleaning/organizing/fixing etc and totally neglecting him. Yesterday I had BOTH checking accounts balanced by 10:18am and I hadn’t entered a single transaction in about a month (well, ok, 2)! Scary I know, but what an accomplishment (*patting myself on the back*)! So now my One-on-One day with The Younger is on Thursdays and I get to take him to the Library and walk around the greenway at the park by the Library! Bonus…exercise!

Speaking of controlling himself, The Elder did remarkably well today as The Younger was being a total younger sibling nuisance and crawling all over him and completely violating The Elder’s personal space.

“You’re bahvering me….Quit bahvering me…Get…off, please…I said, GO AWAY, PLEASE.”

How polite.

Wherefore art thou?

  • December 29, 2007 7:58 am

The Elder has been blowing me away ever since we got back from our trip. He has been extremely voluntarily verbal. Something that I think he might have picked up from The Cousins. I told The Brother that The 8yo With The Bendy Glasses was a good influence on The Elder just from our dinner conversation led by him about how green beans are good for you. Yes, he’s 8. Pretty amazing huh? Anyhoo, I walked by the bathroom yesterday and The Elder looked at me and said, “I’m washing my hands to help make the candy.” (The AP was making a batch of Brazilian Candy before she left for New York for vacation.) Volunteered information? Volunteered hand washing?

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The Younger got a new L-Max (Thanks PaPa) and the house seems to be more peaceful as they both have their own now and there is less fighting over the one. The Elder actually got a new one too, but we haven’t been able to separate him from his original one, so we are probably going to exchange the other one for a rechargeable battery for The Younger. What has been amazing is that The Elder has been coaching The Younger in playing his games. He’s been pretty good at restraining himself from taking over the game (not perfect but responds well to when I say, “Just help”).

“That one goes in the Trash. Go left, left, left, left.”
“Honey, he doesn’t know his left from his right.”

“You’re running out of time!! There’s just a little bit left….Awwww game’s over.”
“Tell him he did a great job.”
“G’job. Go to the Train Depot now. Train Depot. Train Depot. Train Depot.”
“Honey, he can’t read yet.”

“Honey, where is yours?”
“Um, I just help brother.”

WHO IS THIS CHILD??? I think the phrase “Use your words” has finally caught on!

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On the flipside for the subject title reference, I’m considering writing a book. Chapter titles have been floating around in my head for the last 2 days. I figured if I posted my intention, that I would have to actually do it and follow through. So all tips, encouragement, and prodding are welcome.