Reclaiming Control

One of the problems that teacher explained and Super Doc confirmed is that we give Eric too many choices. So one of the strategies is to take control away from him which countered some parenting books I had read. But their explanation made it make more sense. We were not doing him any favors by making him believe that he has total control. Even though the choices would only lead to the behavior or answer that I wanted, he still (in his little 4yo mind) believes that he "won." He is expected to honor my decisions, respect adults, and learn to wait and earn and still not always get what he wants. Sounds realistic and smart. She said that is true for any child and is not autism related which relieved me because I can't stand having to stop and think which child I am dealing with and which strategy I need to use. Besides, Ryan is a much bigger control freak than Eric. So I actually have used more of the tips on the Younger!! And guess what? They worked!

They also worked on Eric and it was great to have power again. That sense of helplessness of not knowing what to do when he does this or does that is subsiding. Using the same jargon that Teacher uses really is effective. I mean I said, "No that's not right, Try Again" and he looked at me kinda puzzled as if I was supposed to morph into his teacher and he was waiting for it. And when I repeated the direction, he did it. Cool.

She also gave me permission to not be too strict with the "military" schedule (though with the Hub we still have to be pretty checklisty in 15-minute intervals). For example, just because the routine is to eat Lunch, it doesn't have to be at 12:16pm. We were trying to feed him at the "normal" lunch hour with so much resistance. He wouldn't sit still or sit up, he wouldn't feed himself, he would put the food in his cheek and chew it so slowly like cud or something. It would take forever for him to finish. Teacher said, that he really is getting 2 directions when we say "Sit down and eat." And if he doesn't sit down, then he doesn't eat. Hmmmmm. She said if he is hungry then he will sit down and eat. So today I asked him if he was hungry when he got off the bus (or rather I carried him off because he fell asleep again) and he said no. I said ok I'll ask you again in an hour, but if you don't eat then, you cannot eat until dinner because I want you to have an appetite. I fell asleep on the couch next to him and woke up to him running into the kitchen "stealing" a juice box. Which was fine actually because I originally thought it was a lollipop that he got from his halloween box. I said, "you can have this, but sit at the table and I'll get your lunch." He did it on the first request. Then he says, "I want a sandwich - just like Todd has." First of all I'm thinking Who's Todd? Then I'm thinking, Eric hates sandwiches - too many things touching. But I (with much power and control) say to him, "That is a good idea for another day, but today you are having spaghetti." And there was a sweet sound after that. Silence. No "Why?" No avoidant whining. Not a sound. I gave him his plate, a fork, and put the straw in his juice box and then he did a wonderful thing. He ate. Not only did he eat, but he fed himself. Not only did he feed himself (with minimal food spillage), but he ate in a pretty timely fashion without his cud technique. He didn't finish, but I think his portions are too big anyway. When he started getting distracted, I asked him 2 times if he was finished and 2 times he said yes. Then I said I was going to put his food away and he said OK. If he was really not hungry anymore, he would have not wanted me to put it away.

Was it really that simple? An hour of TV (in which I got a nap!) saved us from a struggle at eating time. Geez. He was totally cooperative.

Something entertaining Teacher mentioned was how children with Aspergers do not like to stop something in the middle of it (game, activity, TV show, etc). He has to have closure. To not have an end is like cutting off his arm - it is not complete and creates stress and anxiety and meltdowns. She said if I were to bury his hands in the sand, he would freak out because he would think his hands disappeared. What was fascinating about that was just earlier this week I was wearing a frumpy sweatshirt and because I was cold, I had my hands tucked in to my sleeves and he totally f.r.e.a.k.e.d. o.u.t. Now I know why! She also suggested that that might have something to do with his aversion to buttons (er, buttonholes) and rivets in his clothing, but it was too early for her to tell. But I'm sure Terry will be devising cruel and unusual effective tricks treatments to poke fun of desensitize his fear for entertainment purposes.

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