Monday, March 12, 2012

Maya is self-directed (and not in a Woody Allen way)

Last week I found myself sitting in the principal's office.  Of Maya's school.  Because she's acting naughty.


Well, not naughty exactly.  Manipulative. Stubborn. Flightly. Indifferent.  (Those are all my words.)  In preschool language, she is what you would call self-directed, which kind of sounds like a nice thing.  She knows what she would like to do, and will go do it.  Issues arise, however, when her plan doesn't line up with her class's plan.  They're supposed to walk down the hall and she doesn't want to?  Well, maybe she'll just have a seat in the hallway.  She's supposed to practice climbing stairs in physical therapy, and that's not her idea of a good time?  Perhaps she'll just go all limp-noodle on the poor therapist.  She has to take sips from a cup before getting her water bottle?  Well, that's fine, she just won't drink at all, then.

I mentioned these issues last week (after speaking with her teacher) but I was kind of startled by the chat with the principal.  I mean, it's the principal, you know? 

I guess I shouldn't be surprised by this, as I have a killer stubborn streak.  I was always very compliant and pleasant at school, though, and while Maya has a handle on pleasant, the compliance isn't following along.

Interestingly, through the conversations with the teacher, therapists, and principal, I realized that Maya is more obedient at home than she is at school.  I have some theories as to why this is: there are less distractions at home, for one.  Secondly, she only deals with two adults at home, and our expectations have been clear for years.  At school there are many adults (regular teacher, music teacher, 4 therapists, 5 one-on-ones that rotate, depending on the day, the administration, etc). Maya is sly-if one person handles her slightly differently than the others, she will keep wiggling and pushing and looking for ways to get around rules.  Add to all of this the fact that she's cutting a molar and her sleep hasn't been great since the big girl bed switch, and we've got a smorsgabord of possible causes for her recent increase in semi-defiant behavior.

But that doesn't make it ok.

So we're taking some steps.  And, in case anyone else out there is in need of some pro-compliance activities (it can't just be us, right?) here's what we've got going on:

1. For the cup drinking (or, really, and targeted skill that your child is fighting):  I dug into the blog archives (they can be handy) and re-discovered this chart.  Maya's teacher modified it for drinking from the cup (the pictures are now drinking instead of eating, and the star is the same).  She has to take a certain number of sips from the cup before she gets the star--in this case, the water bottle.  It's working well.

2. For general lolligagging:  We got the Time Timer.  She doesn't fully understand it yet, but I can see a million uses for it.  For example, when she is refusing to take off her coat I can just set it for three minutes.  If her coat isn't off before it beeps, then I'll do something.  What?  Um . . .  I'm not sure yet.  Maybe put her bag of stickers in time out.  She loves her stickers.

3. For combatting total self-directed-ness: I'm going to be choosing some of our activities each afternoon.  The timer is going to help me out by showing her that there is a limit to my activity choice, but we will do the full time before we move on.   My choices will be functional---OT and/or academic in nature.  We're referring to my time as "Learning Time."

Learning Time started today.  Over the weekend we had a session with an OT that I love (wish we could just have her come by a few times a week, but we don't have the funds).  Luckily, she loves us too, and we did a session in which she primarily trained me on a pre-writing program that I can do at home.  We did 4 minutes today (which she thought would be an appropriate jumping off point, attention-span wise).  When she got distracted (only twice) I paused the timer, and when we were done I felt super accomplished--and Maya was proud, too :)

If you're thinking that you don't have a pre-writing program to try, don't worry.  I emailed the teacher explaining my Learning Time plan and she was all for it.  I asked her to keep an eye out for skills that I would be able to help reinforce at home and she's already sent me one idea.  Between your child's therapists, teacher(s), and Pinterest*, there are a million fun projects to do.

There are probably people who think "Eesh---therapy and academic stuff should be left for the therapists and teachers."  I just don't feel like that's the case for us.  I came away from today really enjoying the (tiny) session we had, working on a goal together, and Maya really liked it, too.  And since we can't afford unlimited therapy, and I feel like I'm smart and capable, I'm glad to jump in and fill some of those gaps.

If you've got any other tips or tricks, feel free to share them in the comments . . .

*FYI, I've heard that Pinterest is full of ideas.  I still haven't figured out Pinterest.


urbanrhetoric said...

we were just called in to the principal's office for the same...ugh..


Marla said...

Oh how I could identify with so much of this post. My daughter is stubborn and wants to do what she wants to do when she wants to do it. We were getting spoken to by her teachers when we picked her up almost every day for a while. Our solution (for now - still figuring this all out!) was to fiddle with her IEP, give her more small group time, and work with her at home (this is the part I'm figuring out!). This post just rang really true for me, basically. Also, I think - personally - that the more a therapist can teach me to do at home, the better off we all are. I love that the therapist gave you the lesson - you're the one with Maya every day! So if anyone gives you a hard time about THAT, well, phooey on them. ;)

grandma said...

love the pic of maya!!! she looks so happy and so prepared for learning time :-)

kate blue said...

just speaking from a mom standpoint of a 7 YO who has different issues, I am not a therapist but I feel like we HAVE to incorporate PT/OT and home schooling (MY WAY) over the weekend other wise Mondays and Tuesdays are just awful for us. We tailor lessons in with play so that he never sees it as work so....and I believe in cramming it in while he's still innocent enough NOT to figure it out! Some things you mentioned made me smile because although many of our children have different issues, the do so many of the same things!

kate blue said...

and ps- my son jsut started to get a few "x's" for the day for not being a good listener or for going off on his own and for trying to be a comedienne in class and all I can tell the school (much to their chagrin) is that I have waited 7 years for him to do something like "normal" kids do! They had to understand that it wasn't such a big deal to me (but we did have to talk to him about it, and we have to remind him EVERY DAY b4 he gets on the bus, there's just no punishments)....I know regular folks won't get it-but for me, it was just a feeling of relief that he's making progress. It's all in the baby steps right??? My principal knows me so well that I don't even think she'd bother to call me cause she knows how non-chalant I'd be... I say we do therapy 7 days a week...either me or his therapists do "something" and our vision therapist even has us do exercises at home with followup every 90 days-it can't hurt, it can only help!!!

Usethebrains Godgiveyou said...

You are one smart lady. Love the visual son had no idea of time. He works for money (Which I'm sure Maya will one day...)and pays for defiance or not doing chores. Or would pay if he ever figured it was worth it...he says, "You're lucky I'm cheap!"

His second grade teacher said he was just the type you couldn't get under your thumb. Most kids react with a deep desire not to be shamed or get in trouble. Not Ben. He is 18 now. I thought for sure you'd want to know, it doesn't change...

The Wandering Author said...

I'm going to suggest something completely different - try to get inside Maya's head. Figure out what's bothering her, and why she's doing things her own way.

I grew up legally blind, a "genius" (I could read Readers Digest by the time I got into the first grade), and totally unable to fit in or get along with anyone. It was only years later that I figured out I have Aspergers as well. It was not even known when I was a kid.

But, I had reasons for a lot of the things I did. People didn't understand me. When we took my kitten to the vet, to be boarded and spayed, I didn't want to leave her. I could hear all the animals crying and knew it was a bad place, even if I was only six. My parents insisted he was a vet, he "helped" animals. We left her. She died. Of a "brain hemorrhage". A second cat died in that same vet's hands when I was twelve. Two cats, two visits to the vet, two deaths. And I talked later to a tech who worked there - that vet was a monster who hated small animals. So I was right - it was a bad place.

I complained about the smell of gas in second grade. My mother did listen, but the teacher (also the principal) dismissed it. My mother tried calling the gas company. They put her off, so she said if anything happened, she'd testify that she'd warned them. When they went up to check it out, the police ended up shutting down the entire street.

I'm not saying she's always right. But if we're different, if we can't communicate well, sometimes people don't understand why we're hung up on whatever we are. And I still can't eat foods I'd like to be able to now, because of sensory issues and the fact my parents pushed me too hard, too fast when I wasn't ready. Stubbornness (which is a huge AS trait) can sometimes have a reason. And if you push too hard, you can do more damage than good.