A friend dropped by recently with her school age child in tow. He was again asked not to attend school for a few days due to unacceptable classroom behaviour. My friends’ child has letters after his name ie ASD/ADHD – those sort of letters.
He does not process information in quite the same way that the majority of people do so struggles in class to concentrate and do what is expected of him. Relationships with other children are also somewhat of a challenge as self control is not always evident in his life. He is a great kid and often wishes he could be part of “the group.”
The challenge now though was to get him to engage and actually complete the assigned work which was given him from school. Finally we came up with this plan and are currently testing it. I thought it might be of some benefit to those of you waging similar battles. For them the battle was about homework so I have written it from that point of view but it could be adapted to any situation e.g. establishing routine around chores etc.
CATCH THE FROG
Many ADD/ADHD and aspergers syndrome kids are tactile and like to see and touch objects as they work. After hunting around we found some plastic frogs (small ones but any size will do I guess). A blue bowl for the frog pond (or you could just use a clear bowl with blue cellophane screwed up into it).
Now the work begins. The “pond” is placed at the end of the work table and the frogs are not in view. Little Johny can pick the most appealing frog which can be placed into the pond when the most difficult task is completed ( or it could be used for the task he dislikes most). From there he can add frogs as he completes tasks. The more frogs the better his pond will look and the more impressed he will be. Each day will still bring its challenges but we hope that more and more will be accomplished as the sense of achievement builds.
A chart will be added over time to encourage him to stick to the task at hand. This will be in the form of a pond and he will add a frog sticker to the chart for each day his work is completed with minimal disruption.
Obviously the number of plastic frogs is not unlimited so a reward system also needs to be put in place. At first the rewards need to be fairly frequent (goals which seem too far away just seem unattainable to this little person) say after every three or four days to start with. They also need to be small. For some this can be as simple as a chocolate or candy frog. Some have food allergies so this would not be the best idea for them, so keeping to the theme, I suggest colouring in pictures of frogs or even pictures you may have seen and cut from magazines. For an added rewarded when a certain number of frogs have been attained or when seven or more (whatever you decide) behaviour stickers have been added you could teach them how to make an origami jumping frog. Imagine the fun you could all have playing with them. As each milestone is reached the plastic frogs are removed so the game begins again.
BENEFITS TO THE CHILD
Slowly but surely he learns self discipline and develops an ability to concentrate and complete a task.
He learns a lot about frogs as well and may develop an interesting hobby. This will give him many skills as he builds on his hobby.
BENEFITS FOR THE FAMILY
While initially this game is time consuming and requires a lot of hands on involvement it should eventually mean less trips to the school for interviews and a more peaceful home life.
Instead of continually feeling stressed each day I hope this will lead to more time to actually enjoy each member of the family.
Oh by the way, as he achieves each milestone it really goes without saying but I will anyway – remember to praise him for what he has accomplished and thank him for trying so hard. A little encouragement and appreciation goes a long way.
I really hope that those who try this idea will find it of some benefit to their family.