This blog did not get published after I wrote it since I did not have time to proof read it and spell check. But here it comes in order of my ADHD lectures.
I had my third ADHD strategy course for parents Monday. This week’s lecture was on managing every day things. Very interesting and finally something helpful. The psychologists did some scenes that we all recognised. And we talked about tools that can help. At a table discussion, I got irritated at the negativeness that my fellow parents had against tools. Anything that helps is positive in my book! Two weeks ago, I received two tools from the work therapist:
This one we have tried since. I tell “Kitty” that in 20 minutes he has to stand by the door ready to go to the bus and he of course has no idea of how many minutes 20 minutes are. I just push the 20 button and he has this in front of him on the table while eating breakfast and getting dressed and he sees the lights turn off one by one, till they are all gone and it starts beeping like crazy. And it works! He understands that 20 minutes is not 20 years nor all the time in the world. When I tell him to read his homework book for 15 minutes, he sees as well that he doesn’t have to do homework for ever. One mother by our table poo pooed on this tool saying it would stress her out. Well, me looking at the clock, screaming at him to hurry, standing jumping up and down and being stressed out that he will not finish on time, THAT stresses me out. Now I can relax and know that he knows what time we are talking about!!! How can one not prefer this? The tool is there to make things easier for BOTH parent and child, to avoid conflict.
The other tool I was given was this “white board” where you put up pictures of everything that your child needs to do during the day. I was given the pictures laminated and I chose which ones pertained to our family, his life, and glued magnet tape on the back of them. On the left of the board, I have written clock times, and the days on the top. Now he sees all that he has to do. In the morning: get up, get dressed, eat breakfast, pack rucksack, take bus etc. These things do not come natural to a child with ADHD, so you have to emphasize them! Two mothers objected to this! One because she thinks it’s unecessary, and one because she doesn’t want this ugly thing in her home. I’m sorry, I have given up on a pretty home a long time ago. With seven children it’s impossible. One has to have a home that works, functions, and that doesn’t always LOOK pretty. So far, we have only used the white board three days since it took over two weeks to get T. to put it up. (I couldn’t understand the assembly instructions on the back side to get it up on to the wall.) But now it is up beside our family white board. “Kitty” has his routines right there. Now he needs to get in to a routine to look at the board and do what the pictures tell him to do.
Another thing we learned Monday was to try reward schemes. One mother had tried and it had not worked for her girl because the rewards where kept a surprise to her, and she did not like the rewards. She wanted physical rewards like gifts and not practical ones like gettting to do something with her parent. I could have told her that it would fail. ADHD children can’t take surprises, everything has to be order, order, order. Schedules and order. One parent thought it was a ridiculous thing, that it is the parents problem if he or she doesn’t like a jacket thrown on the floor. I was too shy to pipe up that yes, who cares about a jacket on the floor, but there are more serious things that one wants to get rid of in a child’s behaviour, and the only thing that will work is a reward scheme. I wanted to tell him, but didn’t dare to say it in a group of 50 people that when one has a child like ours, one must do something like a reward scheme.
Every day when we tell “Kitty” to go shower, he screams “NO!”. Not because he hates to shower but ADHD children can’t do change. They don’t want to quit one activity and move on to another. So we tell him again to go shower 5 minutes later. And he screams “NO”. When this has been going on for an hour, one of us have to drag him down the hall way and get him in to the bathroom, him holding on to the wall, screaming. And he stands in there screaming till he turns the water on. Then he is as happy as can be and can stand there for 20 minutes and take all the hotwater from the boiler. Because the truth is, HE LOVES to shower! He has to be ordered to turn off the water and get out of there since more people that have to shower. This little drama happens every evening, every day, every week, every month. I want to break the habit.
Last year, his school mate Adam gave him all sorts of little Lego people over a couple of weeks. I had no idea till he one day came and showed me his treasures. I told him that he must return them, that Adam had not asked his parents if he could give them away. I told him that Lego is very expensive and no parent would agree for their child to just give pieces away after the parent has spent all that money. That same night, I had a phone call from Adam’s parent that said that Lego people had been given away by Adam and the parent wanted them back. “”Kitty” heard the conversation and while I was talking, he grabbed a little plastic bag and came down from his room with all the Lego people in it. He understood and just handed them to me. I was so proud of him, especially since tears were running down his cheeks and he told me “Adam likes me and he said he wanted me to have them!”. I was heartbroken for his sake and went on ebay to see what those Lego people were. Most were from retired series of Lego that no longer existed. So I slowly started to acquire them all. One by one they arrived. But I could not justify just handing them over to “Kitty” because I felt sorry for him. I have many more children and why should he just get toys out of the blue? That is when the reward scheme started to take form in my head. That they could be used for this. Getting him to stop doing something or do something without a fight. I picked the most annoying area, the shower fighting, but never started. I don’t know why I didn’t.
Monday, I was staying behind talking to this mother that really needed to talk to someone. The psychologist came and listened in and the mother told her about her failure with the scheme and I told her about my plans and how they had all come about, by Adam’s parent wanting Lego people back. She got so ecstatic she almost jumped up and down and she said she is dying to know how it goes. So, I have no excuse to not try it now. Today I tried to find simple stickers like stars to use with the scheme but found none locally and I couldn’t get anywhere that might sell them. So, I had to think outside the box. I got out my Creative Keepsakes punch that cuts out circles and cardstock in all sorts of colours. And I started to punch out circles. Then I got a neutral cardstock out and the idea came up of a caterpillar. I drew circles all over the paper. First part of a face, that is a nose, and antennas and I drew an eye and a mouth on one of the circles. “Kitty” got to choose which one and he chose a lime green one. Then I drew circles like a snake going down the paper and putting little feet under each circle. After five circles, I put the first reward, and after that every tenth circle will be a reward. I brought “Kitty” out to me and explained what goes. When I tell him “go and take a shower” he must stand up and go and take a shower, without screaming, without complaining, without refusing. If I have to tell him twice, three times… he is not allowed to take a circle and glue it on to the caterpillar! He got all excited and loved the idea. He asked what the rewards would be and I brought out the bag where the Lego people have been stored for so long and I told him, “these were all the ones you had to return to Adam”. He got tears in his eyes, hugged me and he is so thrilled over the whole scheme. I tried to explain that this is not for him to receive toys, but he is supposed to learn a new way to do things, to spare us all the screaming. And when I say us all, I mean our family, our neighbours that can hear all screams through the paper thin walls of this wood house, people that walk by… To them it sounds like regular child abuse in here and I doubt they can’t even in their wildest imagination guess what is going on in here, that it is a 9-year-old boy with ADHD that refuses to go and take a shower. I did also tell him, that eventually, we are not supposed to need the rewards, that this is the goal and he nodded. Let’s hope now, that we will be successful, that all these things will help somewhat in our daily every day life. I know I am grabbing at straws, but better do that than give up right?!
Update: My son’s shower reward scheme at this point.