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…

Another Parent/Teacher Conference, Please

  • September 16, 2008 9:36 am

Yesterday The Elder received his first Yellow Card. It was also the second time he was sent to the CDC classroom to “cool off.” The first time it happened, I discussed it with The Teacher and we came to an agreement that we (me and The K Teacher and The CDC Teacher) need to make sure that The Elder doesn’t see the CDC classroom as a “reward.” The tricky part is that we don’t want him to see it as a “bad” thing or “timeout.” It is in his IEP for a reason, and not a bad reason.

The first time he was sent there he “worked” on the computer and read the Curious George book. i am afraid that he is assciating a meltdown with exiting to read books and play on the computer. We know what that means: he must tantrum to the point of throwing things to get what he wants. I sent an email to The K Teacher today hoping to meet with her.

Date: Mon, Sep 15, 2008 at 10:44 AM
Subj: RE: [The Elder]‘s day

Thank u for the update. It really helps me to know what happens. I know I can’t ask u to do that everytime but if as much as possible. It helps me plan what to focus on when I pick him up. I talked to [The Teacher] ab somethings and strategies for us to work on, me you and [The CDC Teacher]. Mainly we don’t want him thinking that cdc is a reward. Else he will act the way he did until he is sent there which just reinforces it. Perhaps we should talk in person. Could we schedule another conference? Since now we are seeing issues? Thx.


—–Original Message—–
Subj: [The Elder]‘s day
Date: Mon Sep 15, 2008 9:59 am


[The Elder] did fine this morning early (even when he had to correct his
journal). Shortly after that, we did workbooks as a large group. He
was fine until the last page. He decided that he wasn’t going to make
a lower case a. He had proven that he could earlier in the
workbook . He scribbled all over the page, threw his marker, and then
resorted to throwing shoes and socks at me. I helped him with the
first few and then wanted him to try the rest on his own. This is
when he got very violent (throwing, refusing, etc.) He went to his
CDC room to cool off and work on reasoning skills for anger.
Hopefully, this is over for today. He is working on his morning work
right now at his seat.