I am new to this group, but not new to neuro-reorg. I have been working with my children for nearly a year now. My children are 9 and 13, both boys. We started going down to the facility in Woodburn based on the recommendation of a friend of mine that had also done the program and based on our counselor’s recommendation.
My oldest son was having a terrible time. He has Asperger’s Syndrome. The easiest way to describe this, for those of you that don’t know about it, is that it is a mild form of Autism. My ex-husband and I took on two nieces that could no longer live at their household. This amount of change was very hard on my son with Aspergers.
In fact,things had gotten so bad with my son’s stress level and coping levels, that he was talking about killing himself. He was even getting to the stage where he was figuring out ways to go about doing this. It was a very scary time for our family. Immediately, I got him in to see a counselor and then based on his levels of anxiety and such, got him into NW Neuro in Woodburn.
The social issues that my child had were also causing him a tremendous amount of stress. This was a child that was consistently hiding behind the garbage can during lunch time at school because he didn’t know how to play with other kids and it was his way of hiding from them. He had no friends. Watching this was horrid. I had to do something.
We entered into this program hopefully. Something had to change. We made some changes at home to accommodate the nieces living with us (basically separated the children so they were not at the same household. Instead of having all four children at a time, we always had two. They just rotated.) We had counseling in place and then we
started in Woodburn. I think it has been wonderful for our family. It’s tough and we have gone through some really tough moments, but we are out of that phase now and I feel that it has been a blessing for our family. I ended up doing the program with both of my boys.
13 year old – Aspergers Syndrome – social issues, doesn’t know how to read non-verbal information, lack of coordination, very difficult to work in groups, no friends
9 year old – I believe undiagnosed ADHD, lack of ability to focus at school, off-task, constantly talking, not getting work finished, etc
I had both children assessed and we started. Both boys are full-time in school and involved in scouts and piano. We are already busy, but we work hard at the program as well.
Starting in about the third month, I started battling with the older boy. He didn’t want to do the program. “Why do I have to do it,” he’d ask. Then he would lay on the floor and refuse to move or he would do things incorrectly on purpose.
I would get mad. “Didn’t he understand the importance of what we were doing,” I’d ask myself. The answer was, it was hard for him. His body didn’t want to cooperate, and it was hard. During this time frame, we would work on program for 1.5 to 2 hours a day, and still not finish everything. I was frustrated to the extreme, but the ladies at NW Neuro were great. The were so supportive. They helped me to modify things to a level that we could feel like we were getting it completed, and they were willing to help deal with the frustration.
Ryan also started to complain. Being younger though, he would still keep working just because I said to. He was just verbal. Still, I found it difficult to deal with. I just wanted life to be easier for them.
Finally, I came up with a plan. Really it was the counselor’s plan, but I modified it for home. It has worked beautifully for my family. I put both boys on a reward system. I don’t usually do reward systems, but I needed something to help me motivate the boys.
They get 75 points for doing their exercises every day without complaint. They get 65 points if they miss one day. If they miss two day, they don’t get any points for the week.
We set up the point values, then we headed off to the store. I sent them loose in the toy aisle. They could pick any toy that they wanted to work for. I don’t put any restrictions on what they get. Once they pick something, we buy it and take it home. It sits on the kitchen counter, where they can see it everyday, until they earn it.
I attach a point value to each item that is based on the dollar value of the item. They know this system also, so when they are picking out their reward, they know how long it will take them to get it.
Items that are $5-$9.99 cost them 125 points.
Items that are $10 – 14.99 cost them 250 points.
Items that are $15 – 19.99 cost them 375 points.
And I could keep adding in $5 increments to as high of a point value as I needed.
We all love it. The boys get the opportunity to pick out something they want, and I get the opportunity to get exercised completed without complaint. The boys typically pick out items under $10 because they want the quick reward. It doesn’t bother me, and it is so worth the money.
Now, when I say, “Boys, it’s time to do your exercises,” they pretty much just stop what they are doing and head off to do them. Because they are older, they really don’t need a lot of help from me. I just observe and make sure they are doing things correctly, giving helpful pointers when necessary.
Be aware though, that I don’t tell them to start their exercises if they are in the middle of watching a show they really want to watch. I time things well so we are starting right after we get home from school, or at the end of a show or activity, etc. I make sure I pick the time well.
Since I started this reward system, the battles are pretty much gone. We have had an occasional week where the children don’t get every day completed, but this is usually because they have gotten sick and I’m not going to make them do patterns when they are running a fever. We have only had one week when my younger son didn’t finish exercises since the reward system was put in place.
Now that we get exercises completed everyday, the changes I see in both children is amazing.
13 year old – gets along well with others in the classroom, at lunch is playing with his friends (yes, friends. He has several), he went to his first middle school dance last week, group work is no longer a problem, and he can now kick a ball across the gym. (He was never able to do that before.) He can see the differences in himself, and I think that is also part of why I no longer get any argument. He sees now that life can be more complete.
9 year old – I was amazed at his parent teacher conference this year. His teacher looked at me and asked if he was really shy, because he was so quiet. He was always on task, had all of his work finished, and was one of the highest academically in his class. I looked at her and asked if she had the right child. I was amazed. Never had I had a conference for him like this. Also, the PE teacher (who knew we were doing exercised because we used the gym for awhile) came up to me one day and told me that she didn’t know exactly what we were doing, but whatever it was, it was doing something. She could see the difference in my son. She has had him in PE for 5 years now and she said he just seemed more comfortable in his skin. He wasn’t so wiggly, he was more focused, and she even said that this was something that she couldn’t just attribute to him growing up. She really felt it was more than that. What I smile lit my face that day.
It still is a lot of work, but we all want it to happen now. I see huge differences in the children since they get program done every day. I don’t mind the reward system because it stopped the battle. Now we all are just working to make life easier.
Fitting it in can be a challenge some days, and sometimes we miss a day. When we do, we make it up the next day. We have found a way to make it work, and we have become very efficient at it. We have it down to about an hour that we do right after school each day, minus masking which the boys just do as they are watching tv, or playing the computer. I see the progress now, everytime we go to Woodburn, and I look forward to the day when they tell us that we have graduated.
Thanks for letting me share.