I was going to post about our awesome new dog Little Sister, the one I sweet-talked my husband into letting me adopt while he was on the road. She's a Mastiff/Dogue de Bordeaux mix, so fairly big. Instead, though, I am writing about a meeting I had this morning with my son's teacher and principal.
While we've had a lot of very good days since the medication change, the teacher has also seen an amplification of sensory behavior. The day they used clay in art, he spent the rest of the afternoon obsessively washing his hands because he could still feel the clay. His shirts bother him, his socks bother him. Even though his focus improved, his anxiety worsened. And then yesterday, oh yesterday. Yesterday prompted today's meet and greet.
My son has three loves: Video games, computer time and Kindle time. Everything else in life is something that interferes with that time. He hasn't yet been able to understand that notgoing to school isn't going to magically increase the amount of time he gets to engage in his digital universe. He resists doing schoolwork of any kind either at school or at home. Once he is finally convinced to do the work, he finishes it in mere seconds. If he brings home a book to read that he has already read once at school he simply recites it to you without even opening it. (They really need to challenge him more) He loses more play time by resisting than he gains, but he's not yet gained the ability to recognize the cost of this tradeoff.
Yesterday afternoon he had earned all but the last two letters he needed in order to get his evening dose of post-homework electronic joy. However, he was asked to complete some tasks that he refused at school. Sensing he would not earn enough letters to be able to play Skylanders Cloud Patrol on my Kindle Fire, he attempted to rip pages out of his binder, which is his daily communication between home and school. Then he tried hiding it so his teacher wouldn't be able to find it. When it was time to go home, he cooperated to go in line, but once on his bus he refused to sit down. His teacher ended up having to ride the bus with him in order to keep him in his seat. (I'm not sure why the aide on the bus wasn't willing or able to do this, but I'm grateful that his teacher cared enough to keep him safe.)
Needless to say, we all sat down this morning to review what the school is doing and how we can best support Race Car Man.
We're adding a couple of options to his daily sheet of letters earned. This way if he ends the day without having gotten all of them, he will have a chance when he gets home to earn one or two more at most. Doing his homework without fighting is one option, eating his dinner and putting his dirty dishes away is another. This way he still has the opportunity to turn his behavior around, and doesn't send him home without any hope of playing his beloved games. Even though he can eventually calm down enough to just play with his toys, it takes a while to get him past the attitude that life no longer has meaning.
We'll also talk to his doc about med changes next week, and we're going to work together to come up with a reasonable reward system for cooperation in completing tasks at school and homework at home.
I write all this with optimism, assuming that we will see a change for the positive in his behavior.
It is such an intricate dance, trying to anticipate the way I ought to move to meet his needs. One miscalculation and I've mashed his poor feet without meaning to. There is no formula for the perfect mix of what keeps Race Car Man's engine humming. We just have to measure things and try them and change them again if they don't work. The pattern of this dance just keeps evolving and changing, and I must do so as well so that we don't lose step with one another.