May 13, 2013 § Leave a Comment
My long-time, close friend, Heather McMillan (and her husband Elton), founded a curriculum company a few years ago, that teaches and helps instill the good, basic character qualities, that will help children learn in the classroom and succeed in life once they reach adulthood. That company is We Choose Virtues (which can be found at this web address http://we-choose-virtues.myshopify.com/).
Just so you know, I’m not being paid to promote this product and she didn’t ask me to. However, she has brought it to my attention that there are parents of children with special needs, usually Autism, who have asked her if and how the Virtues can work in their particular situations. My son is on the Autism Spectrum (PDD-NOS) and my husband and I have found plenty of opportunities to apply the Virtues in his life.
Before We Choose Virtues came on the market, Heather had an original list of character qualities for her own kids, and gave copies to several mothers in the MOPS group that I was attending. I made copies of them and put them on the walls of my children’s rooms and went over that list with them. My son was a lot younger and it didn’t appear that he was listening or paying attention to that list at all. Then about two years later, out of the blue, he didn’t have a meltdown when something in the routine had changed. I complimented him on controlling himself and he said, “That’s being flexible”. So I knew then, that he was figuring it out. I’ve noticed with my son, that if we just keep exposing him to things or situations, that he initially doesn’t like, that eventually, he accepts them and they become part of his routine. That’s how we went from him not wanting to go to church at all, to where he is now, in that he loves it. He used to sit in his seat during the worship service, not always wanting to be there (there was one night at church, where Elton came up and shook my son’s hand, asking him how it was going. My son, answered in a not-so-happy tone, “I’m flexible!” Yes, I did laugh).
Once the We Choose Virtues curriculum became available for purchase, I bought the poster and the flashcards. Since May’s designated Virtue is “Gentle”, I put it up at the eye level of my almost 15 year old.
I can find all sorts of areas to remind him to be “Gentle” because his initial response to life is anything but that. If he is having issues because he didn’t like to be reminded to wash the dishes, he can be rather rough in his haste to get them done. Or if he impulsively wants to hold a cat (who doesn’t want to be held), he can be a little rough in “loving” that pet. If he’s trying to get past someone in a crowded mall, he might slam or shove a few people in his quest from getting from point A to Point B! So the card is out where he can see it. If you have more than one set of cards, or even the posters, you can put that month’s Virtue in various places all over the house (I would recommend laminating anything that might be tacked to the bathroom mirror, just so the steamy showers won’t wilt your paper).
For my son, who is high functioning, I find this program to be very helpful. The definitions are short and catchy for those who have a shorter attention span and aren’t cut out for lectures. However, for us, it does generate a lot of conversations. Mostly hypothetical questions about situations that aren’t realistic, but are focused on the attitudes of people “involved”.
When I started with my son, I chose what I felt were the top 3 issues that needed work. “Self-Controlled” came into play because when things didn’t go as expected or the routine changed without warning, he needed to learn to be flexible and control his urge to have a fit. Another issues was learning to be patient. If he knew something was supposed to happen at 10:00 and it wasn’t happening at that very moment, he needed to work on being flexible with his time and patient until the event did happen………..at 10:03. Perseverant is helpful when he can’t find something (Diligence is helpful in this area too. They do go hand in hand). My son used to just look at a room, looking for something, but not looking under or around anything, and say, “I can’t find it”. We’ve been working on him quite a bit, encouraging him to keep looking, without melting down, and to be patient with himself if he can’t find the item right away. Now, once he finds the item, he’s as pleased as punch with himself and is all giddy and tells me, “I was perseverant and I found it!”.
So that’s just an example of how I approach it with my older, high-functioning Autistic son. Thankfully, he’s also very verbal, so there are many opportunities to reiterate what the Virtues are, which ones need work and which ones we’re seeing him choose (and we do impress upon him that he is in charge of whether or not he applies those Virtues. It’s not the circumstances that are choosing them for him, hence, self-control).
Investing the money, time and energy is definitely worth it. I don’t know how many times I’ve been complimented on my teenagers’ behavior and also how my special needs son behaves, and I think that using this program has been a contributor to that.
Here’s the link again, in case you don’t feel like scrolling up http://we-choose-virtues.myshopify.com/
Have a great day!
April 29, 2013 § 1 Comment
So here’s our young man
He used to look like this, a little boy………
(Beware, the “fierce” rubber shark!)
When he was little, he liked to bring sticks into the house and carry them around as “whips”. One day, my husband became really tired of seeing sticks collecting in the house, so he helped our son find a new form of “whip”. He bought Kylin a bag of zip-ties, which were the perfect replacement (and good for us if we ever needed to fasten anything to something else!) Eventually, Kylin discovered that the “whip” could reach a longer distance, if something was taped to it, like a silly straw (he’s a big fan of tape too, so we buy him a roll of painter’s tape for those “gift-giving” occasions. To him, it’s gold!).
Before he became a teenager, Kevin found this book for me on Amazon. “Mixed Blessings” was written by William and Barbara Christopher, about their experience raising their autistic son (those who are fans of the show “M*A*S*H” will know William as “Father Mulcahy”). I’m glad that I read it before my son hit puberty, as they described how their son became more agitated and aggressive once it hit. So I had some idea of what to expect. Fortunately, with Kylin, the hard work that we’ve all put in to help him control his emotions at times when things don’t go his way, seem to have helped, so far.
This book is out of print, however it may still be found on Amazon.
Turning 15 for Kylin will be a bit different than it was for Heather. He isn’t ready to learn to drive, and time will tell if he ever will be. The plan is to take him to the DMV and get him an ID card, and then help him open up a bank account, so he can learn more about saving money and gaining interest.
He’s also wishing that he had someone to play with his cars “nicely” (meaning, “play how I want to play, and don’t take the cars out of my room unless I say it’s ok”). This is kind of a big deal, because, in the past, he didn’t want any outside “involvement” when he played.
We’ve also noticed more clarity in his thinking when he writes down his thoughts than when he speaks them. He’s posting more on Facebook and has been making more of an effort to talk about “real” and appropriate things. “inappropriate” would be pictures of him being a dictator wanting to go to war. We did tell him what usually happens to dictators and we didn’t feel that was a worthy career choice for him! When the “dictator” talk or pictures start happening, that’s his way of saying that he’s in a situation that he has no control over and he doesn’t like that.
We have finally started letting him watch movies with some action in them. In the past, he couldn’t even watch “Finding Nemo” without getting overly charged and aggressive. Now he just sits through an action movie rather calmly, and then makes a comment afterwards. When we watched “Jurassic Park”, he was fairly quiet. Then at the end, when the cast is bloody, exhausted and limping to the helicopter, Kylin’s matter-of-fact comment was, “They’re going to need to take a shower when they get home”. Ummm, yeah, I’m sure they are.
It should be interesting to see what changes and what stays the same over the next year.
April 12, 2013 § Leave a Comment
I don’t know when this train rolled into town. My husband saw it in our local train yard yesterday, and knew that our son would be interested too. They share a love of trains, both life size and the HO size model. So tonight, after dinner, we drove over to the train yard to see if it was still there. Is it here for a new paint job? Is it just passing through? We’ll probably never know.
April 10, 2013 § 1 Comment
Spring is officially here, and for us, since we live in an area which in a past life was farm country, that means, ants. Those tiny little sugar ants.
My son discovered them this morning. They had a set trail between the back door, across the metal strip that divides the living room from the dining area. Their destination was the box where we had our latte machine and bottles of flavored syrup. One of the bottles had obviously leaked, sending a signal to the scout ant, that there was sugary goodness to be had.
My daughter pointed out that the ants weren’t fooled by a box that read “Dandy Quality Lettuce”
From my pest-free house to yours,
April 9, 2013 § 1 Comment
I’ve been a little lax in writing lately. Not necessarily due to lack of motivation, but more so of thinking that I had nothing to say. Apparently, on a blog, you can talk about anything………literally.
So just a little update.
Our break lasted only for a week, whereas our local public schools took two weeks off (the school district’s way of trimming the budget is to eliminate a few days of the school year). Since our budget was a bit tight, we tried to have some inexpensive fun locally. We went to the library, went to the mall, and saw “Wreck It Ralph” (cute movie!).
School has been back in session for a little over a week now. I’m working on tweaking the schedule and chores so that hopefully, we’ll stay on target and can be more efficient so we can have more time for fun.
Last week, Kevin had a tooth extracted. So I helped out by making soft meals for him to eat while he recovered. I’m guessing that it wasn’t necessary as he was eating Mexican lasagna 2 days after the extraction.
So that’s the latest. I’m hoping to fit blogging in to my schedule more often.
Right now, it’s time for me to tuck my kids into bed.
February 26, 2013 § Leave a Comment
During the first week after moving to our current home, we met a new neighbor. The kids were upstairs, looking out of their new bedroom windows, and the next thing we heard was “There’s a chicken in the driveway!”. Unfortunately, I missed out on seeing it, so I didn’t get a picture. Then several weeks later, after our cats had moved to the new house, and were acclimated to the new surroundings and allowed to go outside, the chicken paid us a visit again. This time, she was followed by her owners who live on the next street over, and told us that she tends to like to wander.
Two days ago, she was back.
Heather discovered rather quickly that a chicken will peck at you if you get too close, even for a picture.
Oscar also noticed, but didn’t really care.
Once again, she roams through cat territory, unscathed.
Don’t let your guard down Henny Penny!
The cats will figure out the natural pecking order of life eventually!
February 19, 2013 § Leave a Comment
One of the few decorations that I have for Valentine’s Day is a set of blocks with letters that spell out “HUGS”, “KISS”, “XOXO” and “LOVE”. Over the course of the past two weeks, the kids and my husband have had some fun, forming some new, non-Valentine words. I would switch it back to something more holiday appropriate, and they would switch it to something else.