One recent win we had was helping T set daily goals that positively impacted virtual schooling.
T’s Child and Youth Worker was motivated – as were we – to get him to participate more in class.
Depending on which camp you fall on, you may find token charts useful or eye rolling in shaping behaviour of kids with special needs.
For us, they are mostly effective tools; although, it has yet to help with T’s ongoing challenges with using the potty, but that’s another rant!
T’s CYW created a simple chart: he had to participate four times each school day to earn his Switch at the end of the school day.
The system worked like a charm. We saw a kid who was hesitant to participate – sometimes having explosive rage meltdowns when we asked him to – to a kid who was motivated and even felt good about sharing his thoughts.
As we started to see this slow positive change, I thought about other ways we could use goal setting in T’s day-to-day life.
It is very important to me that T develops a good work ethic. I am mindful there will be challenges as a result of his prognosis, but I refuse to let it limit him from reaching his potential.
I am aware that despite the best efforts of his teachers, kids will generally be behind because of the setbacks from the pandemic.
The hubby and I are using weekends to keep the learning happening with T.
We don’t overdo it, because we all need to have fun and rest too: 20-30 minutes of reading and a little bit of math and writing practice.
We work on it first thing in the day, while we’re all fresh and T is at his peak and less grumpy self.
We also remind him what he’s working for: time with the Switch or tablet, as well as swim time at the outdoor pool.
And miraculously, T is often agreeable and the meltdowns have been minimal – when we make it clear to him what he’s working towards.
T’s writing has come a long way. He is now using a pencil instead of a crayon. He still needs to press harder, so his writing is not so faint. But what a difference in terms of legibility.
Reading is a work in progress for T.
I asked T’s teacher if she’d be willing to lend us a summer’s supply of books that we can work on with T. These books are simple and short with repetitive structure and a focus on sight words.
Thankfully, she agreed and I pledged to reimburse any book that we lose or damage. This is going to make a world of difference in helping T avoid the summer slide.
I will say, the hubby and I are especially proud of how far T has come with math.
We have read that individuals with FASD often struggle with math. So far, knock on wood, T has been doing well.
He recently started to do one digit addition and subtraction and blew us away when he seems to be able to doing the calculations in his head (he does get very upset when he gets the answer wrong, so we’re working on teaching him it’s ok to make mistakes). Let’s hope this keeps up!
We try hard to be consistent with showing T what happens when he doesn’t put in the work.
We’ve had several days when he didn’t fully participate. So while we didn’t make him feel bad about having an off day, we followed through by not giving him his Switch.
The resulting tantrums tested our patience but we stuck with it. Somehow, I think T understood why he didn’t get his Switch.
If I seem like I’m showing off a pony, I guess maybe because I am! But really, it’s more because I’m so proud of how far this kid has come.
Parenting T comes with soul-draining challenges – and still does! So when we find something that works, we really take the time to celebrate and relish the moment.
While we don’t use exact words like “setting goals” with him, we try to show him through actions what we expect from him.
Most importantly, we try to have fun at the end of each day as a reward for T and ourselves. Fun in the pool, family hikes in nature, McDonald’s Happy Meals, ice cream sandwiches, free time with the Switch and tablet, and so on.
Speaking of goal setting, summer is here! Our main goal is to relax and have fun. May it feel like a long dragged out summer in the best of ways!