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....

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