Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Whatever It Takes

"Let's get dressed. You have summer school", I tell Matthew.
 He quickly signs "vacuum" to me.
 "Yes, I'm sure you'll get to see the vacuum at school."
 Immediately, he signs "machine".
 "Hmmm...I don't know...does the janitor use the floor cleaning machine everyday?"

So, starts our conversation this morning.  It continued with several more signs for vacuum and machine and a few for car (which he also uses to indicate drive) and me reassuring him that most likely he would get to see those things, but that FIRST we have to get dressed!  On Monday, when I dropped Matthew off at summer school they mentioned that he now knows where the janitor's office is (not just his closet).  I didn't ask if they showed him where it was or if he discovered it on his own.  Some things are better not knowing.  They told me that if he works hard he gets to go visit him in his office.  I had to laugh, because when he started summer school three weeks ago, the big treat was getting to go see Mr. Supa.  Mr. Supa is the summer school principal, but he's also the principal at Roosevelt and Matthew loved getting to visit him during the school year too.  Move over, Mr. Supa...there's a new guy now!  

I started to think back to when Matthew first started ABA therapy (applied behavior analysis therapy) with Easter Seals - over three years ago now!  And one of the things that we had to add to his plan was what they called motivators - things that he would work for. He has things that will always be motivators but he also goes through phases.   

I admit I use motivators (if you do this________, then you can __________) often to get Matthew to do what I need him to do.  This kind of thing doesn't work on Abby, because she will say, "You can't bribe me, like you try to do with Matthew."  I don't think of it as bribery...I think of it as mommy sanity!  

And because I apparently like lists (they're like bullet points...easier to read) have been some of Matthew's favorite motivators over the years:

1.  Shop Vac -   Lots of kids get potty trained with the help of M&M's and don't get me wrong, Matthew loves M&M's with the best of them, but when he would use the potty he would get to go down to the basement and watch us use the shop vac.  He didn't want to use it, but he wanted to watch us use it and he also wanted to feel the air blowing out the side and tapping all the different surfaces and hoses.

2.  Garbage Trucks - One of Matthew's therapists knew that he liked garbage trucks so on a whim she looked up garbage truck videos on YouTube.  Holy Cow...did he get excited! Now, we're not talking about cartoon garbage trucks.  We are talking about people following garbage trucks on their route and videotaping it.  There are even videos of garbage trucks from different countries!  One of his favorites has the song Bad Boys from COPS in the background.  He gets so excited that he literally shakes, especially during the part where the arm of the garbage truck empties the can into the truck.

3.  Rollercoasters and Fair Rides - The same idea as the garbage truck videos except you watch people on rollercoasters and spinny rides at the fair.  He gets excited and shakes when he watches these videos too, although I'm pretty sure he would not go on any of them.  Last year he tried a ride that wasn't scary, but it wasn't a baby ride either.  They ended up having to stop the ride to let him off.

4.  Wagon Rides - Wagons have wheels.  Wheels are cool.  Not much more to say about this one...

5.  Birthday Video - He is obsessed with this right now!  He will put out his pointer finger and blow on it (yep...his own sign).  It means that he wants to watch one of our home videos of someone blowing out candles on their birthday cake.

6.  Storage Closet - He wants to go "explore" in the closet off of our office.  We do have a humidifier that we keep hidden in there (that he likes). Plus the closet has a hook that we use to keep him locked out, so it is super motivating for him to get to go in there.  In fact, the last few nights it has been motivating enough for him that he will go and INDEPENDENTLY put on his own pjs!  This is something that he is very capable of doing, but it is rarely an independent task done without prompting.

7.  Swinging - This can be going to the park and swinging or whenever there are two therapists on hand he will ask them to swing him by holding his arms and his legs.  And Grandpa Sieling has a way of swinging him where he holds him by his ankles.  It is amazing to see him use his stomach muscles to swing himself that way.  A reward for staying on the field for his baseball games is to go and swing in the specially designed swings.

8.  Mama Time - My personal favorite, of course.  When he first started therapy he could earn time to come visit me in the kitchen and help me cook. Now that therapy is a little earlier in the day because of summer, he will sometimes choose to work just to get time to sit on my lap.  And yep...I eat that up!

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