I’m in the sun on a half hour break that I’ve manufactured into what should have been my ‘day off’ this week. Its beautiful weather and I could be gleefully sunbathing whilst the babybears are at school (or getting on top of the housework – but self care is vital) however I have smallest babybear home on another exclusion period.
Exclusions for someone like him do 2 things.
1) unsettle his routine and 2) provide great evidence for the ultimate solution to wanting to avoid ordinary tasks.
He knows why he is home. But that will have very little impact. It will not have helped him to develop the skills he needs to manage more appropriately when he returns to school.
The days/hours I should have spent restocking my resolve and patience have instead been spent attempting to facilitate some periods of academic focus on literacy and maths. (Which believe me is not just as simple as inventing a task you’d like him try to complete.) Then carefully managing a timetable for him that will fill in the gaps in his routine lost through exclusion. He finds it actually painful to just ‘be’. He cannot ‘entertain himself’ nor imaginatively conjure up ‘things to do’. His demand avoidant profile pattern of behaviours are heightened due to the disruption in his routine so mummagrizzlybear suggestions are of course rejected. It is not straightforward. I refuse exclusion periods to be spent lost in a ipad-shut-off mode and he accepts and understands the ‘no iPad during school hours’ rule. But this means I have to work hard to be a lot of things to my son; mum, carer, teacher, friend, play mate to name just a few.
*Blogging interrupted by demand for mummagrizzlybear to stick to the drawn up Schedule*
Rigid routines go against the grain for my ‘day off’ but here I am bound by a timer and a list 😩. Since lunch which was scheduled for 12.15 just like school, we have had individual play time (30 mins) which I had to stand my ground to get on the list as he hates alone time and finds it hard, then game time together (30 mins) then computer time (30 mins) followed by ‘cooking’/ evening meal preparation (20 mins), snack time, before some telly time (my window to finish blogging). This morning we’ve done English, Maths, water play and climbing before we had a visit from our SCIP Worker who had to leave promptly as scheduled despite us having not finished talking!
During ‘English’ we did some work on talking about Anger. Mummagrizzlybear used some of his favorite cartoon characters to try and open up conversations about how other people cope when they feel big emotions.
Trouble was his literal rigid brain found it hard to imagine anything other than what he has watched. Pikachu for example would ‘fight back in a battle to win’ and in Narnia ‘the goodies have to kill the white witch’…nevertheless I slogged on, helping him to think more flexibly, although I could see he didn’t agree that ‘talking to friends’ was likely to be a response neither he nor any narnian would opt for over fighting when worried or angry! Still, planting seeds, has to be better than ignoring the fact that he doesn’t currently have many helpful strategies for coping when ‘angry’ and therefore gets excluded. The task itself provided useful material to work on as he raged mid first sentence, angered by the frustration he gets when writing and internally battling his demand avoidance. He stormed out of the house, screamed and growled once he returned and shredded the work he had started. I used this to look at what had ‘helped’ and we used the scrunched up shredded paper as a tool to move forwards. Before each sentence or at each new frustration he could scrunch this paper and/or get the same release squeezing his stress balloon ball we made last week. It worked. As the task went on, he became more fluent with getting his ideas from his head to the page and with gentle support and reassurance he followed the written instructions. I was able to refrain from too much verbal guidance which reduced the stress of the demand upon him. Overall, we had a positive result and he identified that paper could be used by ‘Brain’ who was wound up and angered by ‘pinky’ and that pikachu could go for help at the hospital instead of fighting when ‘hurt’. The Narnuan, Beaver could talk to his friends when he was worried about the witch and Harry Potter could seek comfort from his pet.
Can babybear translate any of this to his own life I wonder?
My current fear is that the answer may well be ‘no’. I’m reading a Jodi Picoult novel at the moment called House Rules, a story of a lad with aspergers, its early days but I know that the story is about him being accused of murder, but my mum assures me that despite the sadness she felt reading the similarities this lad shares with my babybear that its a safe read for me. I hope that means he didn’t do it. I got choked today on a chapter describing this lads prom and a the work the mum puts into him being able to achieve this milestone in his adolescence. She employs a social skills coach twice weekly and together they support him to work through his anxieties and social awkwardness but its still tinged with sadness as he cannot divert from his rigid routines and slides into the backseat of the car instead of alongside his date in the front.
Babybear returns to school tomorrow after his 2 days reprieve. I’m newly anxious and extra tired owing to my additional emotional workload these past couple of days and tomorrow I’m back to work. Im full of question’s at the moment.
Will these next few remaining weeks of term pan out OK? Will we ever suitably prepare him for the forthcoming transition? Can daddybear and I survive if things take a turn for the worst again? Will I ever get round to tending to (let alone blogging about) bigger bruvs current battles? Will our summer hols have to be this structured? Will the dragon of a Head from his base school miraculously appear at his next TAC and will I cope if she does?
I’m conscious that we have achieved a lot so far today and I’ve earnt my parenting stripes but I’m aware that it is this very day to day workload that can wear us thin on resolve and make us poorly equipped to manage a fresh hurdle … So bigger bruv had best come home less volatile that’s all I can say!
I’ll be back…when the schedule allows!