Saturday, January 29, 2011

Home Behavior Therapy

Let me start by saying I'm no expert.  I am not the perfect parent and there is no manual on how to perfectly parent your ADHD child.  This is a chronicle of my first attempt at at home behavior therapy.

To me, this is something that you can use with any child, ADHD or not.  I've read very little about this, but between my experience as a teacher, my conversation with the psychologist who examined Austin and a little googling, I've figured some things out.  Behavior therapy is simply teaching your child to develop good habits.  The idea is that by positively reinforcing the desired behaviors, you build good habits.  It's a plus that we're starting this with Austin when he's 5.  Old habits die hard for us all, don't they?

I'm going to be honest.  The worst attention issue we have with Austin is getting ready in the mornings.  It's enough to make me want to rip my hair out.  When I tell him to get dressed in the morning, I leave his clothes out for him in his room to get dressed.  While he's supposed to be getting dressed, I'm in the kitchen making three lunches, putting dinner in the crock pot (or preparing something so it'll be easier when I get home), making mine and Austin's breakfast and sometimes loading the dishwasher.  (multi-tasking much?) More often than not, I go to check on his progress and he's standing in his room (often naked) and doing nothing.  It can be very frustrating, especially since we're on a time schedule in the mornings.  Let's get real people, there's a lot going on in the mornings.  I have to get to work.  I am NOT a morning person.  I get frustrated with Austin's inability to pay attention.  At times yelling ensues.  I'm not proud of it, and it makes the morning STINK.  The first goal of our plan is for him to get dressed, socks on, backpack ready in 15 minutes.  There will be a timer involved.  This is a reasonable amount of time.

We also have issues with him cleaning his room.  I am currently spending the weekend reorganizing his room, again.  We are going to reinforce positive behavior when he picks up the things in his room at the end of the night.  So the second goal in his plan is to pick up his toys at the end of the night.

Here is a picture of the goal board I created tonight.  I had a small bulletin board stored in a closet.  It has flowers on it and they are so "yucky" to Austin, so I got some of my scrapbooking paper out and re-covered it.  Then I typed out a simple chart on the computer.  Austin is able to read this chart and read the whole thing to me as soon as I put it up.  Then we talked about it.  I think if he weren't able to read this well, I may have use pictures instead.  I have it saved so we can start fresh each week.  The most important part in a behavior plan for an ADHD child is that the rewards are quick and that he doesn't have to wait for them. (the end of the week is NOT going to work)  If he follows the first goal and gets ready in time then he can play with the dog until I have his breakfast ready.  If he meets the second goal then he gets the treasure box (junk from the dollar store).  We already have a treasure box for "green" days at school, so we had that on hand already.

There are some other organizational things I am working on at home also.  They really don't have anything to do with his ADHD issues, but more with having our home flow more smoothly to prevent some of his issues.

Do I know that this is going to be it, that I have solved all of  my child's problems with this chart and some stickers?  No!  This is the beginning.  We'll see how this works, there will probably be some tweaking and then we'll try again.  Also, if you think that picking up toys and getting dressed on time is all the problems we have, then think again.  We are starting with the thing we need to work on the most and moving on from there.   Once we get these things mastered, or at least more manageable, there are more behaviors we need to work on with Austin.

And so the journey continues....

Do Your Homework!!

Oh, you thought I might be writing about teaching school?  Yes, I say those words all the time, but this has nothing to do with my own classroom.

I won't go into specific details on the internet for all to see, but I wanted to share a first lesson that we have learned in this process.

READ THE LAWS!  If your child is going to receive assistance in any way from the Public Schools, then you need to read the laws.  Go to the school officials armed with factual information.  Exceptional Student Education services and 504 Plans are all related to laws.  Here is information on Section 504 from the US Department of Education.    You can also find information on the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act here.

If you are met with any opposition at your Public School, take a deep breath.  Educate yourself and go in with the facts.  Don't be afraid to stand up for your child in a calm way.  If you have to go above your school administration because you feel you have exhausted all options at that level, then do so.  Don't be afraid to calmly stand up for your rights under our Federal Law.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

A New Journey for Our Family

When Austin was just a tiny baby in my womb, I went to my doctor for an ultrasound.  My child, at about 9 or 10 weeks gestation, was dancing around in my womb. His small nubs for arms and legs were flying around.  He looked like he was doing the jig and we all thought it was funny.  At the next ultrasound several weeks later, he moved so quickly they couldn't get a clear picture of him to give us.  While I carried him he was always moving, and often woke me up at night while he seemingly tapped dance on my ribs.  While in labor, he was squirming so much in my belly that they couldn't keep the heart rate monitor on him.  He was getting his last chance at dancing in the water.

As soon as he figured out how to move around outside of the womb, my baby was a mover.  He kicked out of his swaddle.  He would lie on the changing table and kick his legs a mile a minute.  He kicked so much that over time, he wore a hole in his changing pad where his feet would hit it when he kicked.  When Austin finally learned to walk, it immediately became running.

When he was about 18 months old, he learned the alphabet.  Just as fast as he picked that up, he knew the sounds.  When he was nearing 2, I was cooking dinner and he was playing with the magnetic letters on our fridge.  He took an M and turned it upside down and said "look mommy, W".  Then he took a 6 and turned it upside down and said "look mommy, 9".  My jaw was in the floor.

From a very young age, we knew we had a very smart and active child.  It wasn't until Austin was about 3 or 4 years old that we started to realize that he was having difficulty paying attention and at times seemed scattered all over the place.

Austin is now in kindergarten.  I am fortunate that he goes to school at the same school where I teach.  His teacher is willing to chat with me here and there.  We knew that Austin was doing quite well (he can read far above grade level), but he struggles with paying attention in class.  His teacher pulled me aside a few months ago and said that his lack of paying attention was hindering him from growing academically.  Those words were all that Paul and I needed to confirm that something more needed to be done.

After consulting with our pediatrician, and talking to some people we knew who were parents of children with similar struggles, we decided to pursue our own independent psychoeducational evaluation.  I am writing this because I want others who may have some of our same issues to know what their options are and what to expect.  This service was not fully covered under our insurance and what was fell under our deductible.  This is a sacrifice that we felt was necessary for our family at this time.

The entire process took about three weeks.  We went to a Child Psychologist.  There was a parent interview where he took our family history and inquired about our concerns for Austin.  Then, before Austin met him, the doctor went to Austin's classroom to observe him in his environment.  He was a non-biased eye and was able to compare Austin to his typical peers.  Finally, I took Austin to his office one morning and the formal evaluation took place over a few hours.

I got the results back this Wednesday.  Austin has a very high IQ and does have ADHD.  This does not surprise Paul and I at all.  We knew this was the case.  The psychological report gives us a full picture of Austin and allows us to fully understand him and his abilities and limitations.

This is just the beginning.  I plan to blog about our journey as we pursue the next steps for him.  If you are reading this, you need to know that I am not putting this out there so that the world can critique our parenting skills.  This is our journey, and with the help of the Lord, we are going to do the best we can to parent our child through his focusing difficulties so that he can meet his full potential.  If you so desire, please learn from our experiences as we go down this new road with our precious son.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

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A Grand Purpose...

There are some days when I feel like my life is one of details and duty.  Oftentimes those duties can become overwhelming because quite frankly I have more of them to do in one day than is humanly possible.  When I feel overwhelmed, exhaustion sets in and at times it is depressing.

Sometimes when trials or storms come our way I don't understand the purpose.  It's so easy to ask the God that I know is perfect and has a plan, why?

My cousin and her husband are mourning the loss of their unborn child.  I don't know why the Lord allows for things like this to happen, but Romans 8:28 tells us that "All things work together for good for those who are called according to His purpose".  I've never lost a child, and I can't imagine their pain, but sometimes you just want to ask why.

That very same cousin of mine who is experiencing loss, posted this on her blog about a week ago; how appropriate of a reminder it is in times of difficulty.

The Next Time You Feel Like God Did Not Make You For A Grand Purpose, Remember:

Noah got drunk, Genesis 9:20-22.

Abraham was too old, Genesis 17.

Jacob was a liar, Genesis 27:19.

Leah was considered ugly, Genesis 29:17

Joseph was abused, Genesis 37:24-36.

Moses stuttered, Exodus 4:10.

Gideon was afraid, Judges 6:21-23.

Samson had long hair and was a womanizer,

Judges 14.

Rahab was a prostitute, Joshua 2:1.

Jeremiah and Timothy were too young,

Jere.1:6-7 and 2Timothy 1:2.

David had an affair and was a murderer,

2Samuel 11:3-27.

Elijah was suicidal, 1King 19.

Isaiah preached naked, Isaiah 20:2-4.

Jonah ran from God, The book of Jonah

Naomi was a widow, Ruth 1:3.

Job went bankrupt, The Book of Job.

Peter denied Christ, Matt.26:69-70.

The Disciples fell asleep while praying, Matthew 26:40.

Martha worried about everything, Luke 10:40.

Mary Magdalene was cleansed of seven demons,

Mark 16:9.

The Samaritan woman at the well had five husbands, John 4:18.

Zaccheus was too small, Luke 19:3.

Paul was too religious, Acts 8:1. (note: I left this in, but am dubious about “too religious”…)

Timothy had an ulcer, 1Timothy 5:23.

Lazarus was dead! John 11.

God desires for you to reach your full potential.

Are you available?

You are not the message. You are the messenger!

Thursday, January 20, 2011

My friend Marni

Today is Show Us Your Life Friday over at KellysKorner.  The cool part is that today’s theme is Show Us Your Singles.  When Kelly did this the first time, I immediately wished I would have known and thought about a friend.  When she mentioned she was going to do this again, I got my friend’s permission and this blog post is all about her.

I want to tell you about my friend Marni.  I’ve known Marni since we were about 14 or 15 years old.  We met at summer camp.  I believe in those days we had idealistic conversations about our latest crushes and shared our dreams about the future.  We’ve never lived in the same city, but we have always kept in touch.  She gave me the honor of being in my wedding.  Marni is one of those friends I can truly call a friend for life. 

Marni is one of the most caring, beautiful women I know.  She has a huge heart, is extremely considerate of others and loves the Lord.  You see, Marni is born again and calls Jesus her Lord.  She also has a quirky side and has very often had me in stitches with her sense of humor.   She is a lovely person on the inside and out.

She is also a fabulous Aunt to her twin niece and nephew.  Aren’t they cute?

Marni is also a very intelligent 31 year old woman with a successful career and calls Central Florida her home.  She is a Doctor of Pharmacy.  She works in a big hospital and her drug management knowledge saves lives every day.  That’s pretty amazing to me.

I don’t know what the Lord has in store for my friend’s future.  But should it be a relationship with a wonderful Christian man, I can say without a doubt that she would be a committed, loving and wonderful woman in his life.

Here is a link to Marni’s blog.  Stop by and say hello.  Or, email her here I’m sure you won’t regret it.