This picture look familiar to anyone? It was brand-new to me until last spring when my now four year-old son (Big C) received the diagnosis of ASD and the floodgates opened. Suddenly, I was inundated with cue cards and visuals designed to help us as parents “manage” our son.
I’m learning very quickly that parents have very mixed emotions about this kind of stuff. I’ve read blogs where parents are outraged by concepts like “quiet hands” and see techniques such as ABA therapy akin to torture and brainwashing (I’ll admit I’ve had my share of bad experiences).
I’m becoming a quick study and am discovering very quickly that I learn best simply by following the cues of my own kid (crazy concept, huh?) ABA wasn’t for us, but man, does he dig the visuals! My husband and I tried a visual schedule this summer, and it was like a magical talisman. Does it work 100% of the time? Of course not, but it sure does help. Just making him aware of what’s coming next alleviates so much stress for him (and his Mommy too!)
An extension of the visual schedule are the use of visual cue cards. His teachers at preschool and daycare use them often, especially during circle time, when he struggles to sit still and focus.
Imagine. A four-year old boy who doesn’t want to sit still.
All joking aside, while I’m pleased the visual cards are helping him focus, I’m way more concerned with managing his aggression. He’s an emotional little guy, and if he’s mad (and tired) enough, he will hit, throw, kick, scream – even bite on the rare occasion.
This is where the “Body Calm” technique has proven effective. Again, for my son.
When he starts to escalate, he’s learning to self-regulate, doing as the picture illustrates and wrapping his arms around his chest and taking deep breaths. Does he usually need prompting? Sure. Does it always work? Heck no.
But I know he’s getting it. Case in point:
Just a few weeks ago, I was all in a huff because my husband (who usually does morning drop-off with the boys) had to go into work early. I was stressing trying to pack lunches, book bags, and get my two boys out the door before my own job start time of 7:15 am.
Big C, sensing my distress (he’s highly attune to emotions) very loudly proclaimed to me, “Mommy, you need to get your body calm!”
It totally worked. I busted out laughing, said, “You’re right,” and we did it together.
I’m happy to report I had a calm rest of the day thanks to my little life coach.
How have your children coached you through life?
Note: this post is part of a blog hop. Click the link below to read more blogs about what it’s like to have a sensory-special kid!
A version of this post also appears on The Jenny Evolution.