It is one thing to recite what a quarter, dime, nickel are worth. Like a robot.
It’s something else to be excited when you pick up a stray quarter because you know what it will do for you.
It has been a struggle to teach why coins are worthy when all our transactions are efficient credit card ones and Mom is mostly always in a hurry. The teachable moments on coins pass by.
The great news is that John loves to mess (you know it is really “stim”, right? as in “perseveration”, to do something over and over) with Rosemary’s clock timer during OT sessions. (Rosemary Slade, O.T.R.) And consistency with home chores is way past due. John now has a motivation to do chores because he wants to buy a stim! (and other things, but never underestimate the clever leverage of a stim!)
Rosemary and I brainstormed how to extend the teachable moments involving time, coins, counting, self-control, and choosing personal rewards. We list the things he is working for (swimming, movie, computer, Mom’s phone), and when he makes a bad choice, he has to decide which one gets eliminated. This takes some thought, and we can see him making the calculations. He has to pay fines for humming (another stim) and other bad choices. He also gets to buy more play with the phone timer.
John is blessed that Rosemary is willing to add this extra “transaction” complexity, including making change, to our OT sessions.
(And they both seem to love it—I hear a lot of laughter and negotiation going on.)
So, with your children—use their stims creatively. It’s all fair in love and teachable moments.
There was a day I was afraid to let go of his hand. The possible consequences ignited panic.
Since that time, John has earned a long, nearly-endless rope, inch by inch, by his many good choices. (You know he also made a lot of lousy choices along that path, right?)
I have had to stand my ground, make him come back to me as he tests my resolve with his mischievous faux escapes. (He thought he was hilarious and I was seeing possible disaster.)
Eventually, rope earns more rope.
And now I test his intrinsic motivation as we pull into the parking lot of his beloved i9 basketball camp.
Will he stay in the car until I park so he can turn off the car (new quasi stim) or grasp the freedom to enter solo as I stop at the curb?
All that rope to do the right, “big boy” thing that he sees other children doing—to go inside the building on his own, and tell them he is here.
Or to choose fear, hesitation, the ignition button stim?
One decision path leads to his future, your child’s future, in this neuro-typical world. The one neuro-typical world we all want so desperately to share with our kids.
Our kids who need to have opportunity to earn more rope.
As John says, “practice brave”. Stand your ground.
Peace be with us,
Other kids can get John to do things. Important, powerful, stretching, social, scary things. So I use that.
What you see here is a hot, scared, hesitant, sensory-averse kid (yellow shirt), doing something for the first time. Out in the neuro-typical world, alongside other faster kids. Because his team-mates said, “Come on, John. Come with us.”
Sometimes John would say, “I think I will try that” to me, like it was his idea. Sometimes, wordlessly.
So, find some good, kind kids with good, kind parents. Explain, in short form. (I tell them that John is scared, and that his tongue doesn’t work as fast as theirs. I stick out my tongue, grab it with my fingers, and try to talk. I ask them to do the same, and they get a real fast idea what expressive speech delay is. Not scientifically accurate, but, hey…..)
And I then ask the kids to get John to come with them.
Some day, I will have to deal with stranger danger, but not today. Today is about the archery range at scout camp.
I hope this works for you. It is golden in John’s world.
Love those other kids.
Most kids seek the spotlight, right? They yell, “Hey, Mom, look at me!”
But what if not? If they do not seek attention, shy away from other kids, do anything to escape?
This version of John (in the photo) is only recent. It has taken years of work to get that expression of joy you see. Years of work that you might be thinking isn’t so much worth it anymore for your child.
“The sun did not shine. It was too wet to play. So we sat in the house. All that cold, cold, wet day.”
“Look at me! Look at me! Look at me now! It is fun to have fun but you have to know how.”
Nope—do not listen to that fish in the pot. Do not “just sit, sit, sit, sit” !
Movement will always help our children. Balancing, jumping, crossing mid-line, climbing, and all purposeful movement will build gross motor skills into fine motor skills. It is a blessing of natural consequences that children learn physically, socially by purposeful movement.
And as our kids master physical movements (as when my son could finally launch a 2-footed jump), they will know they have done something worth “Look at me!”
These moments of small joy are worth the consistency and effort you make each day, every day.
Learning is for today.
On my good days, I live “in the moment” with my child.