Spectrummy Mummy

Asperger's, Allergies, and Adventures Abroad

Posts Tagged ‘Reinforcement

Rage Against the Latrine

with 12 comments

Okay, this post is not going to be for the more delicate amongst you.  I will completely absolve you if you skip this one.  I’m talking about potty-training, and truth be told,  I’d like to skip the whole ordeal too, but it seems to be part and parcel of parenting.

And you know this isn’t the first time I’ve sunk so low: try googling “pretzel potty” and see whose blog is the number one hit.  Yes, I make my family so proud!

So, not to be too specific, earlier this week Cubby did something on the potty that he had never done before.  Full disclosure, he did something on the floor near the potty, but it was close enough, and we celebrated, cleaned up, and celebrated some more.

Unlike his big sister, who is queen of positive reinforcement and seemed to potty train herself, Cubby is much more reluctant.  We were therefore delighted to take this next step.  Cubby likes himself some social praise, so I set to telling his teacher, our neighbors, grandparents on Skype etc.  If our paths haven’t crossed in the last week, be glad.  Be very glad.

So yesterday, he tells me he wants to go again.  Yay!  I tell him we have to upstairs to get him on the potty, because <you-know-what> goes in the potty.

No, Mummy, I don’t think that’s right.”

I think my head did that cartoon-swivel thing.  “<You-know-what> goes in the potty, not in your pants,” has been part of our echolaic background brainwashing since before he was born.  Pudding has said it approximately 17 times a day for the last three years.  She lives by that mantra.  He grew up to that soundtrack and adopted it for his own (in word, though not in deed).  It was even one of his first sentences!

There were many ways to handle this, and of course I chose the absolute worst- trying to outsmart him.

Me: Oh yeah, so where does it go then?

Cubby: In the diaper……that’s what they’re for, Mummy.

Wow.  Yes.  Now the big question is, how am I ever going to come up with a strategy for a kid who is already smarter than me?  I need help, if I’m ever to get him from can’t to the can.

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Written by Spectrummy Mummy

June 8, 2012 at 11:03 am

Anxiety

with 25 comments

I’m roused from my sleep suddenly, viciously, by Pudding’s scream.  My husband rushes out of bed before I can even move.  He doesn’t come back, choosing to sleep in the chair by her bed instead.  Melatnonin doesn’t help, the weighted blanket is working, or the white noise, or anything else.  She just needs her sleep, just like the rest of us.  This is the second time he has gone to her, and I know he is too tired to do it again.  He has to work in the morning.  It is 4 am, and my heart pounds.  I try to breathe, I’m suffocating.  Amongst the noise of thoughts pushing for attention in my head, one is louder.  This is anxiety, it shouts.  I listen.  I try to breathe in and out, slowly, quickly, through my nose or mouth, anything to calm myself.

Sleep evades me.  Though I’m in a fog from headache tablets, I can’t find the peace I need.  Eventually I get up.  I’m not supposed to have anxiety.  My husband has struggled on and off all his life.  For my girl, it is the shackle of her autism.  My boy doesn’t escape it either, but this is new to me.  Now I’m in anxiety’s grip too.

I come downstairs and start to type, hoping that I can write out these thoughts that are looping around my head.  This has been building up for a couple of weeks, not just for me, but for Pudding too.  She has been struggling with sleeping alone.  Stressed and exhausting, I allowed her to sleep with me.  I know it isn’t the right approach, and by taking the path of least resistance, I’m exacerbating the problem, but I’ve just been too stressed.

Wait.  The path of least resistance has led to this stress.  These things are not happening independently.  I’m stressed, so I slack, and that exacerbates the problem which makes me….you’ve guessed it- more stressed.  And Pudding doesn’t so well surrounded by stress.  She absorbs and then reflects all the emotions around her.  It makes her anxious.  Seeing her struggle makes me more stressed, and round and round, and down and down we go.

So I must stop.  I have to be the one to stop the spiral, because she can’t.

I need to focus on calming her by providing what she needs, not what is easiest to give her.  First she needs patience, a resource that is in incredibly short supply when we don’t get sleep.  She needs positive reinforcement.  She needs her senses soothed even if she doesn’t feel like doing the things that will help her.  She needs consistency and she needs social stories to explain what is going on.  In short, she needs all the supports that I readily provide when I’m feeling at my best, but which have somehow dropped away as my anxiety took its hold.

It is not to say that I’m not allowed to feel stressed, or anxious, or just plain miserable.  I just need to make sure that when I’m feeling this way, I don’t take away all the things that she needs to prevent her from these very same feelings.  It was a revelation: I can be the beginning of the anxiety, but that also means I can end it.  It will take more effort at a time when making an effort is the last thing I feel like doing, but the results are already promising.  And she has slept through the night by herself before, so she will do it again, as always, in her own time, and with the supports she needs.

As for me, I feel better already.  Maybe this is the beginning of the end of anxiety.

……

This post was submitted for the S-O-S Best of the Best series on Anxiety, which will be published on May 15th, 2011.  You find more information and read other submissions here.

Taking part in the Mental Health Blog Party:

”Mental

May 18th, 2011

Written by Spectrummy Mummy

April 29, 2011 at 7:28 am

Results

with 18 comments

This was going to be a very different kind of post.  Very early yesterday morning I started to write through a very bad mood, and in the process of doing so, had a revelation, and ultimately came to a resolution.  Now, the working through of the problem is worth a post in itself, but that will simply have to wait for another day, dear Reader, as I’m far too excited about the results of my solution.  I know that I’m being cryptic, but just bear with me.  I become far less coherent when I’m giddy, as anyone who has ever had a drink with me will tell you.

So my resolution was that I had to be more positive.  That my negativity was causing havoc on the rest of the house, and creating a vicious cycle of anxiety.  It isn’t that I didn’t have justifiable reasons for feeling negative, and I do have every right to go a day or two without being Ms. Perky Perfect, but as I was the only one capable of breaking the cycle, I needed to do so, or face the fact that things would only continue to spiral downwards.

I resolved to do so with all the gusto of someone who had been awake since 4 am with a two day-long headache, and really needed it to end.  Pudding needed to do calming activities that she liked and were rewarding.  Two of these activities had been incorporated into her reward chart, so it was time to get working on them.  Pudding does a listening program that was prescribed by her first OT.  She listens to modulated classical music through special headphones.  We’ve noticed an improvement with her anxiety when we do it, but she resists the activity, and I hadn’t felt like fighting her.

With the promise of a token, I coerced her into doing her music.  We went downstairs to draw on her easel, and I helped her put on her weighted vest.  Usually we draw together: she likes drawing people, and I get the more difficult requests, like “Easter” or “aquarium.”  This time I drew a cat, and asked her to write it.  She’d only ever written her name freehand before, I was expecting and instant refusal, but she wrote each letter as she sounded it out C-A-T.  Her first written word!  Only last week in her evaluation I’d said that she couldn’t do it, and here she was amazing me.  That was enough of a result to keep me happy, and reward the positive approach, because, you know, Pudding isn’t the only one who needs positive reinforcement!

But then…

She told me she was going to draw me.  Nothing new there, she likes to draw people.  But after she finished she wrote as she sounded out M-U-M!  I knew she was able to spell cat from an app on her iPad, but Mum was something else entirely!  Afraid it was just a fluke, I asked her to do it again.  She both drew and wrote it again.  She didn’t write Dad when I asked, but she did a very good try at her brother’s name.

And then I ran for my camera, because I wanted to keep this memory, and if negativity overwhelms me again, I can click on this page to chase it away again.  It took some working through to get to my solution, but I think you’ll agree that the results are worth it.

I'm the purple one, the pink one is a self-portrait.

The second one is more legible.

Written by Spectrummy Mummy

April 28, 2011 at 6:50 am