Team T have been trying different strategies to help our sweet boy process his emotions.
Emotional regulation is often a challenge for children with T’s prognosis – at-risk FASD.
The hardest moments are those when he is set off in the blink of an eye – over seemingly small things, like asking him to brush his teeth, go to bed, or focus on virtual learning.
Thankfully, the majority of our time with T are positive. But it’s important to intervene while he is young, so we can set a foundation for later life.
The hubby and I have read on private groups about kids with FASD who have explosive moments, damaging things at home or physically turning a classroom upside down. Kids with FASD may be at risk of issues with the law in adolescence.
I don’t think – and hope – we’re on that path but we’ve seen things at home that have given us pause and at school and daycare, there have been a few moments related to disregulation.
Most recently at daycare, staff reported that a colleague was bothering T. He got frustrated and threw a wooden block at this peer, causing a bump on their forehead.
Granted, it’s not all T’s fault, but the mother was not happy and asked for T and the friend – who love to play together – to be separated.
That was hard to take in as a parent and it was hard for T to understand the consequences of his – and the peer’s – actions.
Life is a work in progress and here are a few strategies Team T is currently using to help him work on his emotions.
Books are a great tool to share lessons with T in a non-lecturing way. Visuals are so helpful too.
His behaviour therapist recently recommended a list of great books and we found some of them as read aloud videos on YouTube.
What I like about these stories is they don’t shame kids for feeling angry and at the same time, teach them a more productive way to process and express those emotions.
We are so blessed to have really understanding and supportive daycare staff. They may not entirely get T’s prognosis but they have been so genuine and open to learning and trying things.
I often chat with the staff during pickup and she runs ideas and questions by me.
We’ve connected daycare staff with the Special Needs Resource Consultant from Community Living Toronto that supports T at daycare.
The consultant recently provided a role play Conflict Card Game to daycare staff to try out.
The game presents a series of scenarios – sample above – and it provides the staff and T with a play-based way to talk about how to emotionally respond to common scenarios.
We are also incredibly blessed and grateful to have the dedicated one-on-one support of his Child and Youth Worker at school this year.
She has been such a godsend and allocates time each day at school to work with him on soft skills.
What we appreciate so much about her is her willingness to learn and apply things that we and the daycare staff are using, so there is consistency at all touch points of T’s life.
At home, we try our best to role model the expected behaviour, because kids learn best from observing their parents.
The hardest thing about parenting a child like T is the difficult behaviour and I confess to not always being the most graceful in my responses to his actions.
Such as when we found out with very little notice this Tuesday that we were returning to virtual schooling the next day and that day camps next week were cancelled due to a return to shutdown.
My anxiety level shot up and I was not very calm in responding to T’s tantrum during bedtime.
But thankfully, every day with T is a new start and you just have to let the previous day go.
This morning, T’s class did a virtual art lesson – which we’ve done and loved in the past. They drew a sunflower – the symbol of good cheer.
After T outlined his sunflower, he said he was done and got up to play with his toys. I told him he needed to finish his work and to colour the sunflower in.
And just like that, he blew a big fit. He threw his artwork to the ground and stomped off. Started telling me to shut up and saying that he was tired and his arm was going to fall off from all that hard work of coloring.
I had to restrain myself from laughing or losing my shit – because it was both hilarious and incredibly frustrating.
But I kept my cool and calmly reminded him that he would not earn tablet time if he did not finish his work.
After a two-minute tantrum, he came back to the table, started chuckling again and proceeded to finish his work.
For about two minutes, the two of us quietly completed our sunflower. Afterwards, I asked T to share his work with the class.
His teacher praised him for a job well done and after we went back on mute and turned off the camera, I told T how happy I was that he was able to control his emotions and finish his work.
It was truly a sunflower cheerful way to end our morning.