Mothering Forum banner
1 - 8 of 8 Posts

·
Registered
Joined
·
656 Posts
Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hi all,

I hope I can make sense with my questions here. I'm really not sure where to post this, either. My 4-yo son appears to be going through some developmental changes (which is a good thing!) but is still very delayed and has minimal, if any, receptive language and no speech yet. Also, he is adopted, and we had him as a foster child for a couple of years before we could adopt him so had to follow their parenting rules and such. With our baby, we bf, co-sleep (I do anyway - DH sleeps elsewhere so as not to be disturbed), carry him around in his wrap a lot, all the things I didn't get to do with our older son and wish I could have. Also, our older son's medical needs come in to play quite a bit, as he was extremely premature (I had posted about that below in the preemie questions) and he still has a lot of medical and developmental struggles. I guess I am just looking for any ideas using an AP approach with our older son. I have to have him on a fairly structured schedule due to medications, tube feedings, his health needs, etc. but how can I help him to feel more in control of his own self, know that he is still just as important as the baby, and that just because the baby takes so much time he's not feeling neglected? Our baby has a lot of trouble with reflux and is a fairly high needs little one, but even at 4 years old our older son is still very young emotionally and developmentally (maybe 12-18 month range I think) and still wants/needs to be carried some, rocked when he wants it, and to move through those earlier developmental stages. DH isn't a real big help in spending time with the baby so I don't have much individual time with DS#1, and DH also works long hours so is often home after bedtime anyway. DS#1 is in preschool most mornings so DH doesn't see him much then either. So, specifically, naps and bedtime are getting to be more of a struggle, as is transitioning between activities. As soon as he figures out a new routine DS#1 starts throwing a fit (kicking, crying, pushing away) when he knows it's bedtime next, or whatever it is that he doen't want to do but has to (neb/inhaler treatments, teeth brushing, etc.) He very much needs a nap and regular sleep schedule in order to stay healthy (he has chronic lung disease and gets sick very easily) and once he falls asleep will usually sleep 2-3 hours for his nap and 10-12 hours at night. When he is awake he goes non-stop. Anyway, my husband and I both come from very non-AP families (scheduled feedings for babes, CIO and spanking) so I am definitely going against the grain where relatives are concerned, so I am hoing for any and all ideas, suggested reading, BTDT experiences, anything! I feel very strongly about not using CIO, spanking, etc. and I think even time outs are hard for DS#1 to understand, so for discipline I am still mostly just redirecting him and using simple language since he does not appear to understand. Any thoughts? Hope this makes sense - sorry to be so long winded. Thanks!
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
979 Posts
I don't really have any BTDT stories, nor are my suggestions tested on an actual 4-year old because my son is only 2
but I did want to offer you encouragement in your desire to parent him gently and try to help him through some of the developmental stages that he missed when his life was more chaotic (before you were in the picture).

My only thoughts are to be near and connected to him when you can (if he is receptive to touch and closeness). To give him lots of snuggles, cuddling while reading books, rubbing his back to sleep at naps and nighttime when you can, etc.

As far as helping him feel more empowered, getting him to "help" in any way possible will have an amazing impact. If you can find a way for him to help you with drawing up his meds, getting his tube feedings ready, getting dressed (choosing clothing, putting it on), picking which books to read, packing up his backpack for school... anything that he can help with or make his own choice in is going to give him a positive sense of himself and his abilities. I don't know if he has motor delays, but even moving his hands while he holds things would work great (this is what we do with my son). Getting him to help with the care of DS#2 will also lead to positive feelings about being a big brother rather than a competitor for your attention.

You mentioned that your DH isn't big into babies, but maybe he could be recruited to spend more quality time with DS#1? Having some good daddy time could be very important to his forming identity and sense of self. Any positive attention that he can get is going to help him feel better about himself, even if it's just a quick walk around the back yard to talk about flowers and birds and trees. Have you discussed your feelings with your DH? Hopefully he will be willing to invest some time in this too.

Best of luck to you and your sweet children
.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,613 Posts
I was actually just thinking yesterday of the ways in which AP has to be modified to fit our real life with a SN child. Dd is blind and has lots of medical issues, so she's on a pretty regular schedule, too. Some of the things we do to help her achieve a better sense of self and independence:

*choosing her own foods when possible (she does eat table foods by mouth, so we let her pick out lots of her own foods)
*letting her take her own medicine (she can get the med from the fridge, and squirt the syringe into her mouth)
*encouraging her to help with household activities (she loves to unpack the grocery bags, put dirty laundry in the hamper, etc.)

Since we haven't always been able to co-sleep (though we did it when possible), we let her fall asleep in our bed with us, then move her to her own bed after.
It's also important to me that she have a sense of discipline, so we're working to teach her that certain behaviors are not appropriate. I don't expect her to understand every time, but I do think that she isn't going to get a "free pass" to misbehave just because she has special needs. The teachers at preschool often baby her, and this has led to some problems. We are consistent with the words we use to explain things, and we will remove her from the situation when necessary (not time out, because she is with an adult).
Hope this helps!
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
826 Posts
One of the most empowering things I read when we first started the special needs journey was the advice to forget about most Western parenting advice (CIO, spanking, etc) because it won't work with these kids. So you are definitely on the right track!

One of the things that helped our kids the most back when *everything* was so hard was a simple picture schedule, but not a schedule that was tied to the clock. I made drawings of the day's activities (lunch, storytime, bedtime, etc) and put velcro on the back of each one. Then, I let the kids help me determine the order of activites. They had to have medicine, but I could let them decide if the medicine card went before or after the story card. This wasn't much, but it gave them a smidgen of power that helped a bit. When we were going through a rough period, I added more cards (for example, instead of just having a bedtime card, I had cards for every step of the bedtime routine. For my kids, more cards = more choices = more power = fewer struggles).

When they were littler, the schedule had to be rigid because they needed the stability of knowing *exactly* what was happening when. Surprises were not well tolerated. As they grew, they needed the scheduling less and less, and we would go through entire months without it. If a rough patch or a difficult transition occurred, the schedules got us through -- the comfort of the familiar. We are on a schedule for the summer because my oldest boy asked for one. We are not rigid about it -- we change the card order when we want and we take long breaks for free play in between cards.

I don't know if you can use the above suggestion or not, but for us, it was an excellent example of AP. Rather than demanding compliance from a child who wasn't capable of giving it, we did our best to find ways for the kids to be in charge of their days. I think this is especially important when there are so many things they *can't* have a choice about (like medicine, therapy, etc).

I feel like I'm babbling now. I hope I made a little sense.

Tara
 

·
Banned
Joined
·
370 Posts
Quote:

Originally Posted by thoesly
One of the things that helped our kids the most back when *everything* was so hard was a simple picture schedule, but not a schedule that was tied to the clock. I made drawings of the day's activities (lunch, storytime, bedtime, etc) and put velcro on the back of each one. Then, I let the kids help me determine the order of activites. They had to have medicine, but I could let them decide if the medicine card went before or after the story card. This wasn't much, but it gave them a smidgen of power that helped a bit. When we were going through a rough period, I added more cards (for example, instead of just having a bedtime card, I had cards for every step of the bedtime routine. For my kids, more cards = more choices = more power = fewer struggles).
What a wonderful idea! I am looking to help my little one with transitions and the OT suggested this, but I didn't understand. You explained very well, Thanks!
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
7,270 Posts
I also want to second Theosly's wonderful schedule suggestion. I use it with my students with developmental delays and low language levels and it makes the most enormous difference.

You can also have picture schedules that show the order of steps in a particular activity (such as she mentioned with the bedtime routine) and use them for all sorts of activities.

I tend to use a top-down setup for the daily schedule or activities (with an envelope at the bottom that the cards go into when the activity is done) and for choices, several rows and columns of choices. What is suggested more for choices is a circular layout with the category or concept of the choice in the middle. For example, for foods, a food category picture goes in the middle and the choices of individual foods go around the circle. This way the concept is emphasized as well as the choices. Then you can move to offering choices of actual concepts/categories and then offering the appropriate choices for the category that your child has chosen.

But my most important suggestion besides that (as Snuggly mama mentioned) is CHOICES CHOICES CHOICES. It is possible to include a child in making a choice for almost every activity or steps.

-the order of activities
-to do something alone or with another or with help
-what to wear
-which toothpaste to use
-where to do (activity that must be done, such as nebulizing treatment - on the bed, on the couch, sitting in a chair)
-which crayon to draw with
-which cup to drink from
-which chair to sit at at the table
-which room to do ________ in

And I use a "free choice" card during my schedules which means that my student gets to go over to a velcro board filled with activities he likes to do or items he likes to play with and choose whatever he wants. When starting to use a schedule that includes activities your child might not like so much, it can really help to put a preferred activity as the first one. Then once he is used to checking the schedule himself properly, you can sometimes have fun stuff and sometimes not such fun stuff. Also, show him how to use the schedule so that he can do it alone and then begin the activity or go to the right place to begin it independently. A "check your schedule" item or card can be very useful. For my student, I simply took a digital photo of the schedule itself.

A digital camera comes in VERY handy, and you'll want to laminate the cards so that they don't get ruined (which is very quickly if you don't) with a little boarder of lamination on each end so they don't peel apart.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
656 Posts
Discussion Starter · #7 ·
Thank you so much for the responses! I am looking at ways to have him help as much as possible and give him choices whenever we can. My husband is much better at playing with our older son than the baby but really doesn't see the need for him to have choices at this point - I am working to win him over on this, as he has been pretty resourceful in other areas for him, especially in learning new play skills. Unfortunately, he is also not very AP or GD oriented either, and I am really hoping to have his support in this area, so lots to work out I guess. Thanks again for the great suggestions!
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
18,562 Posts
Never underestimate the power of touch. Babies need it as much as they need food and shelter. I think you are onto something and I would encourage you to hold him as much as possible, lie down with him for naps for the first part and rub his back and legs, rock him and sing to him.

I think part of the reason my toddler is thriving so well is because she's touched and held and loved. She vomits a lot and suffers a lot with recurrent illness. She does not get a normal diet but is almost 100% on formula. And yet she is growing and thriving.

Today she's sick again and I took this photo of dh being next to her. She's been held all day. Last night she had febrile seizures and vomiting, today she still has a temp and is on slow drip. What is the most comforting to her is human contact. Forget the special blankie or her favorite animal. She wants Daddy's shirt. She is so much better when she's in contact with us.

Nitara is 16 mos. old and we give her certain choices such as which binky she wants to use, which cup she wants to have (she's drinking water out of cups these days-- otherwise tube-fed), whether she wants up or down, and what diaper she wants since I use cloth and some have pretty patterns. Sometimes I let her choose which shirt she wants to wear, too. I ask her and she will point to the one she wants.

There are other things she has no choice about, they are part of her care, such as meds and brushing teeth. We just have to do those things.

You sounds like such a sensitive and wonderful mom.
 
1 - 8 of 8 Posts
Top