After almost a year and a half, my name finally rose to the top of the list for provincialy funded Autism support services in the area of a parenting support class. (note that the peanut is still on the wait list for IBI therapy, with no end in sight, but I digress).
With this Positive Parenting class, the goal is to teach groups of parents of children with Autism techniques to manage behaviors (good and bad) that parents find challenging at home, among other things. Over the next couple of months I’ll be heading to classes once a week for tips and tricks to help the peanut learn to do things like get dressed on his own, brush his teeth, clean up his toys at the end of the day etc. Not that he can’t do these things, but his autism means that learning the steps to do everyday things are a challenge for him to do without constant guidance and supervision. The goal is for me to be able to say, “time to get dressed!” and for him to be able to do it on his own without the 20 minute meltdown that would normally ensue if I left him to do it by himself rather than just help him get dressed like I usually do.
I pick my battles.
This week my homework was to set up a behaviour tracking spreadsheet (like I need an excuse to track something in my journal!) to see if his behaviors improve over time with the techniques I’ll be trying.
I have decided that I’m going to track how long it takes him to clean up his toys at the end of the day with me providing verbal reminders/encouragement, and offering a treat at the end for finishing. Currently, getting him to clean up his toys takes about 20 minutes of me constantly asking him and physically directing him to clean up his toys. For reference, it takes about 2 minutes for him to clean up his toys at daycare when I show up to take him home. You’ve never seen a kid clean up faster when it’s home time! So I know he can do it. I’d like to see him clean up at home as fast as he does it for the staff at his daycare. That’s the dream.
Truth be told, though, I feel like this exercise would be more useful if the peanut had some behaviors that needed stopping or managing right away because they were dangerous or harmful to himself or others, but he doesn’t. He’s really a very good kid. His autistic tendencies, I feel, are mostly managed very well and are circumstance based.
This exercise is meant to track behaviour, and to change my parenting style to modify the behaviour. I put forward that getting a kid to clean up toys at the end of the day is a challenge for any parent of a five-year-old. But at the moment, with the tools I currently have on hand, I can’t think of anything else this exercise would be good for.
So each day this past week I’ve been tracking how long it takes him to clean up. Then, after a week, I’ll track how long it takes him to clean up with some kind of treat or incentive offered at the end. If it works as the instructor has told us it will, there should be an improvement in how long it takes him to clean up after himself. We’ll see how it goes. My next class is on Monday.