Wednesday, May 11, 2011

A new approach for honesty...the "bad erase board"

Wow! My last post was nearly 6 months ago.  Life has been hectic and stressful.  I was very active in clinical rotations and specialty classes. (I ROCKED my Psychiatric Nursing rotation. Highest grade in the class on my final--and highest average in the class. Perhaps it's my experience living in a world of nutty people (myself included) plus as the mom of a special needs child that helped me to comprehend the abstract concepts in mental health nursing.  Because of The Coffee Klatch I had a better understanding of other conditions like bipolar disorder, childhood issues like conduct disorder, and Tourette's Syndrome.)  I have suspected for a long time that I could make an awesome nurse. I stayed away for eons because of my sister.  She's 14 months younger than me and I am utterly convinced she came out of the womb with the dream to become a nurse.  (She is now a nurse educator and a pediatric nurse practitioner)  We had sibling competition (aren't you the little sister?) throughout most of our school career, it was alleviated somewhat when we moved since she had more teachers that never had me as a student.  I just didn't want to get in the way of her dream.  She's now 300+ miles away and well established in her professional endeavors.  Now it's my turn...and I'm loving it!

On to the present...
So like many other mothers of 8-year old boys, I've been having issues with getting the truth from my son in a timely fashion.  While my son is rather concrete and literal, he has a hard time telling me the actual truth. It's not as much lying as either not responding or forgetting to tell me something like how there is a stinky mess in the kitchen that he needs help cleaning up....(you have NO idea!)

Having a child on the spectrum, I know that traditional methods don't always work for my child. Yelling doesn't work. Most "punishments" are either not appropriate or ineffective.  Since we are Catholic, and my son is working on his 2nd grade Sacraments this year (even though he's a 3rd grader) most of the year for his 'punishment" I told him he had to apologize to God. He'd sit in his space and say the Act of Contrition (aka the "I'm sorry prayer").  Don't laugh.  He was rather proud when the director of CCD came to his class and he was one of a few children in his class that were able to recite all his prayers from memory upon request.

I didn't have to yell, I got a time out and he practiced his prayers.  Plus I used it as a tool to teach him about the abstract (especially to a literal child with Asperger's disorder) concept of Reconciliation.  He asked if he could "confess" to God instead of telling me what he did.  Of course I said yes, and I stayed out of sight.  I found out what I needed to know as he felt the need to talk out loud to God.  He was proud to make his first Penance in March.  This practice.prayers & confession worked great for both of us. He practiced, got used to telling someone what happened in his day, I didn't have to yell or get stressed or get upset (mom got a time out)

More exciting he's making his First Holy Communion this Sunday at Mass.  But of course change is inevitable, while he's better at apologizing this method is not working anymore.

In come my new 'invention'....The Bad Erase Board.  Sometimes we just want to erase our mistakes and either start over or move on.  This is my son's opportunity, at least in our house, to do so.  The Bad Erase Board is a dry erase board.  My son (sometimes with my help) makes a list of what went "bad" for the day whether he didn't try his best, he was silly at inappropriate times, he wasn't nice to the dog, he was late, was crabby or grouchy due to tired,...whatever.  We talk about better choices that could have been made.  We talk about how we can make things better (such as writing an apology if warranted). We may practice how to do things better (such as not doing an assignment because the set-up is different than usual...instead of shutting down actually letting the teacher know that it's harder for him to complete since he's used to having two pages instead of one page that he has to constantly flip over for reference.) Then he gets to erase the board. Erase the "bad" of the day. And he literally starts with a clean slate in the morning.

(How about that for using idioms and expressions?) The physical act of erasing the bad at the end of the day is a visual reminder that we make mistakes but we can fix it. We can start each day off new and happy.  I'm trying to show him that because one day was hard and frustrating by talking about it we can figure out ways to make the next day a better day.  Since he knows that amnesty can be given if he volunteers information on the Bad Erase Board, he's more likely to tell me about certain incidents he might otherwise keep silent about.  Such as "borrowing" some cookies from the kitchen and hiding them behind the table next to the front door. We can clean up the evidence before the ants come for a visit.  Previously I might just not find out until the ants come a marching...

Now if I could just figure a way out to get my son to be more efficient, life would be grand.

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