Sunday, February 12, 2012

38 weeks 2 days

The strike is over! Yay! We have buses. We have gan. We have hospitals that are not on Shabbat schedule.

This is good.

We had a nice Shabbos. The weather was lovely and I took all the boys outside to drive their little red car around in the closed-for-Shabbos parking lot while Mr. Bigfoot and Marika napped. We have a schedule of nappage on Shabbos that is not exactly standard but works for us: see, shul in Israel ends WAY earlier than it does in the US. No kiddush, no speech, and an earlier start time, so Mr. Bigfoot is usually home at around 10:30. I can't deal with cholent at 10:30 AM and nobody is ready for lunch then anyway, so when he gets home, I go back to sleep while he makes kiddush and has a snack. Then he gets me up at around 12:30 and we eat Shabbos lunch like the buncha Americans we are. After lunch is naptime for Marika (getting shorter and shorter each week though alas) and Mr. Bigfoot.

Iyyar did get his star yesterday (for no handwaving/talking to himself) but needed many many many reminders to stop. This morning he was hard at it and almost lost his star before breakfast was over. I said, Iyyar, the star isn't for stopping when I tell you to stop and then starting again a minute later. It's for not doing it.

"It's hard, Imma."

"I know it's hard. That's why you have a star chart with only seven spaces and a big big prize. If it were easy, I wouldn't make a star chart. Or I'd make lots of boxes and only a little prize."

"It's really hard not to."

"Why is it hard?"

"Because I want to do it. I feel like I want to."

I got him one of those squishy stress balls to play with when he gets the handwaving/face-squinching urge. He used it so much it broke within a day. I have no idea where to get good-quality sensory balls here and don't have anyone coming from/going to the US anytime soon that I could ask; tried to find a place with international shipping and that way wouldn't get them here till almost Pesach.

This morning I slept late (worked really late last night) and left Mr. Bigfoot to get the gan boys moving on his own, with the result that I woke up a little after 9 and they were both still playing in their underwear, not having had breakfast, etc. (School starts at 8:45 and it's a 15-minute walk). I was not pleased and went in there like a drill sergeant; Iyyar instantly went into full Boneless Toddler mode, whining, lying in bed, not looking at me or paying attention. Imma is mad--> I can't deal--> hello this is the worst coping mechanism imaginable. I got him to look at me and we had a short but firm talk about it. He got dressed and didn't do a full Iyyar flipout, but the weird behavior took a noticeable upturn.

How do I make him stop? How how how? What else can I give him to do? Distracting him seems to work the best, but that can't be the nonstop solution. I need to figure out ways to help him a) recognize when he's doing it and b) distract himself. Tally card? I don't know. He's easier to talk to about the whole thing and does mostly want to stop, which helps, but... yeah.

Is it just me or is almost every post lately about Iyyar? Guess you can tell where my head is these days.


persephone said...

One of the things I insisted on last year, when they wanted to take away Aleph's chewing necklaces, was that they HAD to offer him something else instead. It's serving an important purpose for him - helping him cope with anxiety. He's not going to be able to stop unless you give him another coping mechanism in its place.

But yeah, it might also just feel good. Maybe it's some kind of input (sensory? other??) that is intrinsically reinforcing, even when he doesn't need to do it for an external reason. Like thumb sucking. Sometimes they're doing it for self-soothing; sometimes it just feels good.

So I think you're on the right track with the stress balls. Or any other activity which gives him that kind of pleasure/relief, but is less obtrusive. Aleph's therapist gave him a few things to keep in his school cubby that he could switch off with, whenever he felt the need: silly putty, a squeeze ball, a sack of rice (it felt good to have something weighted on his lap), and...I forget what else.

He's actually holding his squeeze ball in class pictures last year. I...guess the pictures made him nervous. :)

Talking about it will probably also help - what it feels like when he wants to do it, what it feels like after he does it, what happened in between that made him feel better, what else might feel good instead, what triggers it in the first place, etc. If he can be more conscious of the process, he can come over to YOU and say, I feel like waving my arms, can you give me another thing to do instead. Or he can just go to where he keeps his stress ball/silly putty/etc. and get it himself.

But in the meantime, I would offer it yourself - not just any distraction, but something that gives a lot of calming sensory input. We can google for ideas, if none of the above work for you. And I'll have an answer for you by tomorrow about whether I'm coming in March.

Anonymous said...

Persephone has some fantastic ideas! I was just going to ask what kind of stress ball couldn't stand up to his kneading/needing: the foam kind or the kind that has air or fluid inside? A sturdier kind might be the answer, but I like her suggestion of a variety of things. The sack of rice especially intrigues me.

What about making him something that's a cross between those two -- say, a small sack of some sturdy material (denim? canvas? heavy velvet?), about twice the size of his fist, rectangular, filled with rice or lentils but enough empty space that they can accommodate being squeezed around? Might last longer, you can make it double-seamed for strength and in a colour he likes, even with a little patch or applique. Small enough to carry easily in his hand, maybe even in a pocket, so as to be available when needed.

~ Jasmin

mother in israel said...

What a challenge! It seems to me that starting and stopping is an intermediate stage before stopping completely, so maybe at this point he should be rewarded for that?