Tuesday, June 16, 2009

A day in the life...

Since Eli has been home there have been lots of ups and downs. We are learning what sets him off, because some of those things have changed since before he went to Meridell, and we are recognizing new obsessions (like he always wants to be on the left, always wants the item on the left, the cup on the left, the chair on the left, etc.). There are moments I feel like I am in that drowning mode again, but we are right on the brink of some HUGE positive life changes for him...and us...so I need to be patient and trust that God will take care of us as only He can.

Life is not perfect. The medication is what has made the biggest difference in Eli's ability to cope with his obsessions and fears and anxiety...but even with a daily medication routine that looks like this...

There is no complete "fix". And every time I look at this I am reminded at how "anti-medication" I am and I have to laugh. Sometimes we are taught lessons that we never feel we need to learn. With that said though, this doesn't help with one major area that is a constant struggle in our household. Short term memory. Eli flat out doesn't have it. Period. He will do something and not know why. You will tell him something and 2 seconds later he has completely forgotten. Seriously.

For example, he KNOWS he has to wash his hands after he goes to the bathroom. He would come out and I would ask him if he washed his hands and he was like "OH MY GOSH I FORGOT!" And he'd go back in and wash them. It wasn't like he was trying to NOT do it...he just couldn't remember TO do it. But he is extremely visual...so we have started putting up signs. They have made a HUGE difference. I can't tell you how much this has helped to improve his cleanliness habits and my stress level with having to remind him to do the simplest tasks. So here are some of my signs...

This one is taped right on the mirror just behind the sink at his eye level, so he is reminded to wash his hands. I even traced HIS hands on the paper to make it more connected to him.

The next sign, I can't believe I'm going to share it with you, but it works, so I'm going to post it. I have had to make a rule that when he potties, he has to sit down. If the child tries to pee standing up, he gets bored and doesn't aim at all...so there is a mess for me to clean up every time. So he has to sit. BUT even when he sits, he still gets bored and sidetracked, and doesn't always aim. The last time he didn't aim we ended up with pee in places I didn't know pee could reach...so thus the need for this sign.
Another issue we had was him jumping on the bed. No matter how many times I told him not to, he would do it as soon as I left the room. But since the other signs had worked, I decided to try this one, and it worked! As soon as I put it up, I walked out of the room and waited by the door to see if I would hear the boys climbing up on the bed to jump. I heard Chase crawling up, but then I heard Eli say, "Chase, look at the sign! It says don't jump, so we can't jump on the bed okay?" I was SHOCKED. SHOCKED beyond what I can express. He is such a visual creature...he just needs reminders.

I also made a couple of stop signs that are placed around the house. One is nailed up right by his lightswitch in his bedroom to remind him to stop and check his attitude before he leaves his room and comes out to interact with the rest of the family. This one is still a work in progress, but I think with consistency it will work as well as the others. And the last one is a small hand with STOP written on the handle. I carry that one in my purse or bag, and if he starts acting crazy I just pull that out. It works better than me yelling or trying to get thru to him with words. Seeing things is what gets thru to him, so we are learning to adjust to what works for him, instead of forcing him to do what "should" work for everyone else.

And last but not least, eating is another issue. Hopefully with his therapy this will get better. I'm not sure if it's texture, or smell or whatever other aversion it is, but he is so very picky. We have started this chart, and the deal is that for every dinner time meal he eats without fighting us and actually eating it all, he earns a sticker. Every time he gets 7 stickers, he can decide what dinner will be for one night. If it's cereal, then that's what we'll have. If he wants a peanut butter sandwich, then that's what we'll get. But then he has to start over and earn another 7 stickers by eating 7 meals well. He loves stickers and charts like this, so it is a great incentive for him.
So that's all for now...It's late and I need to get to bed. I'll update with more behavior issues soon. I hope you all are having a great week...



Wendy M. said...

Sorry I have been so out of touch! I am sooooo happy that Eli is finally home! That is such great news!

Have you thought to put up a smile face sign instead of a stop sign in his room? I've had my share of making signs and charts and I know for Scott things seem to work better with extra possitive visuals. I really love your signs! They are so cute and colorful!

As for food....is it a fruit and veg avoidance? Scott is also a picky eater and so I bought the book "deceptively delicious" and it has been a godsend! Scott hates cauliflower and I slip a puree of it in with my homemade mac and cheese and he doesn't even notice! Next step for me is to do a less runny version where it still has some small pieces and see if he goes for that and then gradually make the chunks bigger.

I sooo hate to get up in peoples business, and if I go to far just e-slap me, but girl, you have got to let him clean his own messes, even if that means you watch him wash his hands and then go back over his work when he is sleeping. It makes a HUGE difference for kids and their messes. Scott used to be really bad about getting into everyone elses things and drawing and spilling on everything until I started making him clean it up.

How is Eli liking his new room? Got any new pics of it?

Allison said...

You are amazing, Stacey :) Eli is so lucky to have you for a mom - I can't imagine how difficult it is for you sometimes (or maybe A LOT of the time), but it is so clear that God has equipped you with an amazingly creative mind to come up with these tools for helping Eli!!