Gentle Hands

Joey has made progress in many ways—but ever since we increased his hours of ABA (behavioral therapy) a few weeks ago, he’s been getting more and more aggressive with me. The ABA answer is to ignore the behavior. But he’s not doing it to get my attention—he has my attention already at those times. When he hits (or kicks, or bites, or pinches) me, he is telling me that he is frustrated, or that he hates whatever I am asking him to do, or that he does so need a cookie, and to heck with dinner. But his speech, while improved, is nowhere near letting him say any of these things to me. Just over a week ago, he said “please” for the first time and I got all teary-eyed. That Friday he said the longest string of words he’s ever managed: “Mo’ fing peas [more swing, please].” But it seems really hard for him to speak, and every new word takes a long time to emerge—and ends up being used seldom.


Joey’s speech therapist is working on the low muscle tone in his face that is apparently a major hurdle to improving his speech (and the reason why he’s so baby faced), but it’s slow going.


So: on Wednesday, when Joey’s ABA provider showed up and he promptly burst into tears, I suggested that we take him to the park: make it a “rapport-building” day instead of a workday. Krista was amenable to the suggestion, and we pushed Joey on the swing for two hours. He did have a better day after that. I don’t know what a long-term solution would look like; I think that Joey will continue to develop, and that the things that are hard for him now will get easier. But new hard things will keep turning up. Still, as I type this, Joey is coloring—he is also picking up crayons and watching carefully as they spill out of his hands. It’s going to be another long day for him, but right now, he is quietly enjoying himself. And I’m enjoying his company.

Meghann Says

I’m keeping your brother in my thoughts.

I want to hear more about what you are reading. We’re home(pre)schooling as well (and we plan to homeschool once J & A are school aged) and I always like to hear about what other families are doing.

And I’ve been getting a girl vibe from you for a while now. My accuracy when I get a “vibe” is ridiculous; I’ve been wrong once in fifteen years. Heh.

Home/pre/schooling-wise, I’ve only read three books, and they have quite a bit in common: Basic Montessori: Learning Activities for Under-Fives, Teaching Montessori in the Home: The Pre-School Years, and Teach Me to Do It Myself: Montessori Activities for You and Your Child. I’d be interested to hear any recommendations, absolutely including non-Montessori stuff—that’s just a place I know I want to explore philosophically. I like the Montessori idea of letting the child dictate to a greater or lesser extent what s/he’ll learn (hereafter “he,” since I’ve got a Joey in mind); since I don’t have to worry about meeting any kind of official standards for learning, there’s no problem with letting Joey go as far as he can in one direction while ignoring another for as long as it suits him. I don’t want to homeschool once the kids are school-aged—six, to my way of thinking—because I want the kiddos exposed to a wide variety of people and ideas, much wider than I can manage myself even with outings and friends. I don’t have a clear list in mind of things I’d like the Snerks to learn before we send him to school; if he gets to kindergarten and can’t count or recite the alphabet, well, I hear kindergarten is an excellent place to learn those things. I’m concerned with figuring out how not to let my own preferences—for the practical stuff like cooking, gardening, and woodworking, as well as colors and books and sensorial stuff, and away from math or geography—steer what we do. I plan to give Joey choices, of course, but I select those choices in the first place. That’s certainly one reason for wanting to put him into school when he’s six.

I’m (perhaps obviously) not going to do genuine and hardcore Montessori—I’m still working up my tentative plan (right now I’m planning to start when Joey is two, but if he doesn’t seem ready, I’ll leave it until January 2013), but I’m pretty sure that I want to incorporate a different (additional) kind of “sensorial” activity: things from and similar to those on this list. Joey is a very physical kid, and I’ve already needed to start finding ways for him to express that beyond trying to climb into the fireplace or break the dvd player. I pulled out the ball pit that was supposed to be a 2012 Christmas present a few days ago because Joey’s just so full of go and so frustrated that we don’t go to the park twice a day. So far, it seems like he’s finding enjoyable and useful. It’s been kind of a rough week for him, exacerbated by a nap strike, and I’ll take all the help I can get.

My brother isn’t doing well; I’ll write about that separately and soon. We keep getting new bits of good and bad news, but not enough good news. My father is going out to see him in a couple of days, and I’m sending snickerdoodles with him, since my brother says he’s craving them.