T woke up on the wrong side of the bed today. It was not even 10 am and he was growling at everyone. When I asked him to narrate his first reading, the tears came quickly. Normally, I would work with him on the material until he was able to give an acceptable narration. Often, his stubbornness and my demands for perfection would drive both of us to tears.
Today, though, I tried a different tack. Today, I was able to stop viewing his tears and refusals as a behavior issue. This is something that I know intellectually that one shouldn’t do with someone on the autistic spectrum. Try as I may, I always fall into that authoritarian parenting style.
Today, I did a few things differently. First, I backed off. I acknowledged that he was feeling down today, and that , like Alexander, "Some days are like that…even in Australia." We talked about whether it was the schoolwork that was making him sad, or whether it was something else. Turns out, it was both. The something else was just a sadness that he was unable to pinpoint. When he said that he couldn’t do any school work today, I said that that was OK.
Secondly, I encouraged him to find something to lift his mood. I gave him some examples of things I do when I’m in a bad mood. I knit, read, take a bath, do yoga, etc. I suggested that he wrap his brother’s birthday present, to which he readily agreed. Wrapping gifts is not his forte, and he needed help, but he was willing to give it a try.
After that, I gently encouraged him to look over his school schedule and decide what things he thought he could accomplish. In the end, he read a chapter from Little Pilgrim’s Progress, completed two pages of Greek, and practiced piano. This is not anywhere near a full day’s work for T. However, his mood was improved FOR THE REST OF THE DAY! Folks, this is big. T’s bad moods can last decades.
I hope I can remember what I did today so I can repeat it. We’ll try that reading again another day.
On another note, my baby turned 4 today! Happy Birthday, R!