Susan's Blog

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Do the Write Thing

Good Morning, here is ONE bear called Corduroy
–Lisa McCue

I took the post down I wrote earlier today. I thought it was stupid after reading it again. Silly and not getting at what I really feel. Not really fair to Nat, either. I could tell because after I posted it I had a stomach ache, like I’d swallowed Jiminy Cricket.

Here’s the point: I love my boy so much and I just want to understand what is going on with him. I just want us to be happy. Him and me. His brothers. His dear father. That’s all. We are all five of us equal parts in a family that works. But it has been so hard lately. Nat has not been happy. Stomping, yelling, charging at people, chewing his arm crazily. Not happy. I get at the end of my rope, despair, and then — I find a few more inches. One of his teachers gave me an idea today, simple and clear: write it down. Just write down what is happening the moment he gets upset. Tell him on paper, so he can process it in his own way. Give him a suggestion (on paper) of what he can do (like read Shel Silverstein on the couch). I now believe he cannot process our words effectively when he is feeling in the middle of chaos. And to him, the start of the dinner hour means chaos. But, thankfully, he can process something he reads.

This should be no surprise, and yet, when his teacher suggested it to me, I felt the light, feathery relief of being helped, at last. Write it down. Of course. Nat has always enjoyed the written word, ever since those earliest days sitting on my lap listening over and over to Corduroy’s Day: A Counting Book. That was our very first sophisticated interaction: reading together. Before that day, he could let me know when he wanted food, sleep, or to be changed, but as far as enjoying something with me: reading Corduroy was the first ever. I will never forget the joy I felt as he closed the finished book and then handed it back to me so I would read it again. Why? Because I felt it tonight when he took my note about dinner, read it, and calmed down immediately. And then again when he agreed, spontaneously, to go with us to the park to see some friends. And then when he grinned happily as he watched Ben wrestle with Chris and Andy. And then when he asked to throw the ball to Robbie the Blind Dog.



Great suggestion. We’re having some dysregulation right now ourselves; it might just be the balm.

— added by Drama Mama on Wednesday, July 25, 2007 at 12:32 am

What a simple, yet effective solution! I had heard of this once before, with an autistic child who could be redirected by written, but not spoken communication. Three cheers for that wonderful visual memory and visually mediated comprehension!

I succeeded in getting my Jakie to talk in sentences by having him READ words in sentences. He caught on rather quickly. Maybe I should now use this technique of written redirection. We sure could have used it this evening!

— added by Susan on Wednesday, July 25, 2007 at 12:54 am

It never fails to amaze me how I so quickly forget to just write stuff down. It is how we potty-trained four years ago. Stay strong and beautiful, Susan. On a different note, I’ve been meaning to ask you..did Max do any hand flapping when he was at that copycat age of, say, 2? It is oddly amusing and disturbing to me when my little one does this because he thinks it is a good way to express his own excitement. I suppose I will feel the same when he finally figures out that this is his brother’s special and different way. -Mrs. G

— added by Anonymous on Wednesday, July 25, 2007 at 9:53 am

Hip, hip, hooray!! My boys arrived last night, just as a dear friend was bringing us some live lobster. Wow, talk about grabbing a boys’ attention.

I’m so pleased you’ve found a path to help Nat. Now breathe, and do a little dance.

— added by Lisa on Wednesday, July 25, 2007 at 10:03 am

what a great suggestion! sounds like Nat really responded! it reminds me of the book, Reasonable People and how DJ could only process the spoken word once he learned how to read. i know it’s not exactly the same but it never ocurred to me how these two ways of communicating could be (are are) experienced so differently by some. i wonder, too, if Nat might be better able to tell you what he wants in writing (or typing) more than talking?

— added by kyra on Wednesday, July 25, 2007 at 10:52 am

Taking Jack to the doctor was always a struggle (especially sick visits). One of his therapists made the same recommendation: write down what will happen (a short schedule). He is now much less anxious when he goes to the doctor.

— added by Joe on Wednesday, July 25, 2007 at 11:13 am

a little dry erase board (the $5 kind from target, etc) is a wonderful thing:) it can be anywhere in the house or even the car.

— added by Anonymous on Wednesday, July 25, 2007 at 11:32 am

We all know these things but they get pushes aside for a while because we’re concentrating on something else. Glad the teacher gave you a nudge.

I certainly need a good shove sometimes.

— added by Maddy on Wednesday, July 25, 2007 at 11:42 am

For the other poster: Both my typical daughters flap, to some extent (one older, one younger than son with PDD.) Mostly his older sister, so she’s not imitating. I’m told it’s not uncommon. Once recently I told her to stop (out of habit) and she looked at me and said “I’m not him!” (oops)

I have always loved Corduroy, Sue. {sigh}. It holds a special place in my heart.

Good luck with the reading…


— added by Anonymous on Wednesday, July 25, 2007 at 12:42 pm

Thank God for teachers that truely care.

— added by MarkZ on Wednesday, July 25, 2007 at 2:45 pm

“…the light, feathery relief of being helped” Very well put. And I’m glad things are going better!

— added by Nancy Bea Miller on Thursday, July 26, 2007 at 7:17 am

I saw this on one of my lists and thought it might be helpful for Nat and others{me}

something that may sound behavioral
(and maybe it is?!) but it’s helping. we’re trying to work on
noticing degrees of things, specifically, degrees of upset. wyatt has
a tendency to immediately dysregulated by the merest bit of
annoyance, disappointment, sadness, anger, irritation, etc. and jumps
right to aggression. we’ve been working on this in varying ways for a
while now. a couple of weeks ago i made giant numbers out of
construction paper and laminated them, giant 1, 2, and 3. i velcroed
them up to a cupboard right next to our break cards (everyone in the
family has a break card with our name on it. when we need a break, we
take it and go into a room to calm down). i made the number 3 pink,
just like the break cards. we’ve made 1 = a little upset, 2= a medium
amout, 3 = very upset. if we get over a 3, we talked about how we
might lose self-control so we want to take a break BEFORE we get to
3. we’re (dave and i) doing a lot of self-talk about our own degrees
of upset, oh, i’ can’t find my keys, i’m getting frustrated! i’m a
1! i wonder what i could do to help myself? etc etc. and then, when
we get to a 2, we try to model taking a break.

— added by Dori on Thursday, July 26, 2007 at 8:20 am

Given that many of our children learn to read before they can speak, the written word is a “warm and fuzzy” friend.
Even though our son can speak now, when he becomes upset of anxious, his brain seems to shut off. Writing our message to him or visa versa is so valuable.
Ironically, since he has learned to use the computer, he is a master at the IM (instant message). A friend mentoned to me recently that he IMS with more articulation than he speaks. His thoughts are clear and well understood.
x resilientmom

— added by resilientmom on Thursday, July 26, 2007 at 9:57 am

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