As I mentioned the other day, the boys have had two in-service days from school this week, and have in effect had a four-day weekend.
Saturday was its usual mix of jobs and dancing, with Hubby going to football in the afternoon. D often goes with him, but decided he wasn’t going this week. We therefore had a slobbing afternoon watching movies and playing games.
Sunday morning was a little fractious because D wanted to go to Kids CLub to see Smurfs 2, but M is adamant that it’s not a movie he wants to see – he loves the other Smurfs movie, but the clips of 2 he has seen with the Naughties have frightened him. Hubby said he would take D if he really wanted to go, but instead, he went off on one, screaming and yelling at M. Needless to say, nobody went to the cinema! Instead, I decided to do a full roast dinner, something we don’t often have as there is usually so many things going on. I gave the boys a list of tidying up jobs to do in the living room, and told them if they were all done, then they would earn an extra 50p pocket-money – they don’t really understand the value of money yet so slave labour it was, as they tidied, dusted, and cleaned. The boys even shamed Old person off the sofa for a short while! D then came and took the cutlery through and set the table. After lunch D went over to his chums house, and that was the last we saw of him until it got dark and his chums older sister kindly walked him home! M played some games with Hubby.
Monday Hubby had to go to work, so I decided to take the boys out as I spoke about on Monday – https://jas2jar.wordpress.com/2013/11/11/in-service-days/. It was a lovely day, and at bedtime, M said he had really enjoyed it. For him to comment, he must have had a good time.
Tuesday though bought different attitudes from both boys. They were in no hurry to get dressed, in fact they point-blank refused! It was no big deal, so I just left them to it. When asked what they wanted to do with the day, and offering various suggestions, they both decided that having had a busy day on Monday, they just wanted a quiet day at home. They were sure. M installed himself at the computer to watch Netflix – he is addicted to all genre of the Power Rangers, and will watch them back to back to back for hours on end if given the chance. D decided to play Lego Star Wars on the Wii. I am always dubious about him playing it, as I don’t understand it, and when he gets to bits he finds difficult, he can get very angry with it, and especially himself. However today he was brilliant, even getting through one section he usually gives up. He was so proud of himself, he asked for my phone, so he could text Hubby to tell them he had done it!
It was at this point the day went dramatically down hill. Hearing D get praised by me, seem to set something off in M who started giving him major verbal abuse. The nastiness coming out of M’s mouth towards D was horrific. Trying to get D not to react to it can be a problem, so the easiest thing to do is separate them. I put M on the stairs for a time-out. He really hates this and will scream and yell and keep getting up, but he needed to be away from D so I could talk to him about why M was saying nasty things. D understands about the autism, and accepts that sometimes things can not be controlled – he has a very old head on his shoulders. I also explained about how the change of routine was probably affecting M as he likes to know what he is doing and when, and for him it is not normal to be at home on a Tuesday. D seemed to take it all in, and said M should enjoy not having to go to school! I then faced M and asked him if he knew why he had been abusing D, of course he had no answer and got very fractious when I was talking to him. I focused on the, “How would you like it if….” side of the situation, and he agreed he would hate it if it was the other way around. He returned to the living room, but had to be reminded at several points during the rest of the day to mind his mouth.
The boys did decide one thing they wanted to do was to dunk for apples, and so I got the a large pan, and they had great fun getting soaked, but neither managed to get an apple!
There is great discussion within the autism forums I read about the effectiveness of times out. I am not sure they actually achieve too much, but I do believe when you need to separate children, then they might be the only option. D spends a lot of time sitting on the stairs, but for different reasons. Often if he is getting agitated, a couple of minutes in a cool, quiet, environment can be enough to bring him back down before he totally kicks off, but on the other hand, many a time, it’s because he is being totally obnoxious and he just needs to be removed from a situation because he doesn’t know how to get out of it, and time-out is the only answer. I am a great believer in talking to the kids at the end of time on the stairs. I think it is a good opportunity to discuss why a situation had happened, and what we might do next time to try to see signs and help ourselves stop it happening.
I think as parents our job is to guide our kids to grow up to be the best humans they can possibly be, and that means teaching them what is acceptable and what isn’t. As a parent of kids with additional needs, I think that it is even more important to be teaching them these skills, as they don’t always pick up on the signs and signals that we put out, expect others to know how to act or react to us. It is important to explain why we have to do things a certain way, and why other ways are not done. It is not about making my kids into something they are not, it is about making them into people who don’t struggle so much in society because they have learned what they can and can not do.
I think M’s behaviour is down to the randomness of the in-service days, and how it plays with his head. The only way he knows how to handle it is to lash out and poor D is the one who gets in the way and suffers the abuse. It’s not fair, and not acceptable, but I can see where it is coming from, and make allowances for the reason, but definitely not for the actual act.
Days off either need to be in larger chunks, or singles days that we can pack full, as for M, one day of randomness is definitely enough.