“First…then:” Parenting in Binary Code

Jan 19, 2015 by

We learned the “first…then” behavior strategy from our daughter’s birth-to-3 team.  At the time, the goal was simply trying to help our daughter get a sense of time and order.  “First you go to sleep for a nap.  Then, you can play more.”  We used social stories, which are essentially a tool to convey any routine, such a potty steps, the line-up of her preschool day, or what a Saturday, which is different every week, might look like.

social stories

Over time, “first…then” also became a way to get both our children to take part in some of the less desirable parts of a household.  “FIRST, we clean up from the puzzles, THEN we can bring out the books.”

First… then can also be a pretty subtle bribery tactic.  “First, we have our protein.  Then we can have dessert.”

When Should You Medicate Your Child?

Jan 13, 2015 by

sage reading

As if I knew the answer to that question, right?  I have Googled this very question, paraphrased in various ways, more than once.  Heck, perhaps that’s how you landed here now.   If so, like you I have wondered and struggled and suffered through deciding.  I have sat across from my wife, daughter, her pediatrician, teachers, and mentors in tears, wondering how to best help our little girl.  As a social worker who started her career working with kids, and often with kids on medication, I was not the biggest fan.  I saw kids over-medicated, diagnosed too soon or misdiagnosed.  I watched parents pressured into putting their kids on medication to stay in school.  I saw the helplessness and pain in parents’ eyes as they struggled with the very same decisions.

Responding to Autism’s Surprises

Dec 16, 2014 by

We are forever learning to be better parents to our children, and that is not different when parenting a child with special needs.  Occasionally, someone from Sage’s school will ask if we have any tips to respond to a certain trigger or behavior, and outside of bonding over our shared helplessness, at times we’ve got nothing.  Sometimes we wing it, probably more often than we would like.  While there are certain things we can prepare for, there are always surprises.

half donna and kids

1. The unexpected loud space:  If we know we’re headed somewhere over-stimulating, we’ll throw a pair of earmuffs or headphones in a purse “just in case.”  Yet, there are places we know we don’t need them.  Enter mistake number one.  Church is a place that isn’t “too loud.”  Well, until last weekend.  No ear muffs.

Please Don’t Scold My Child!

Dec 2, 2014 by

We got out of the car at a dog park, walked into the fenced area, let the dog off leash, and not twenty seconds went by before someone was telling my daughter “You can’t run in a dog park, it’s not safe.”  When my daughter broke down into tears, the woman looks to me and says, “I didn’t mean to make her cry.”

dog park 12.14

I’m not sure what she thought would happen.

My daughter is six and she runs in open spaces.  Go figure.  While I understand that dogs like to chase running children, we have a dog, we have running children, and we know that.  We risk that because with two running children, a dog, and not enough financial resources to fence in the yard, the dog park keeps us happy.

Wait.  Why am I explaining?

“I Cannot Say Okay Mommy”

Oct 21, 2014 by

Bedtime has come and gone.  Songs have been sung.  Pillows have been fluffed.  Blankets have been tucked in.  Kisses have been placed on foreheads.  The dog has received his last head pat.  Off to dreamland we go.

2014-10-02 10.56.38

Only we forgot something.

“Mommy, what will Monday bring?”

Our dear Sage needs to have a sense of “what’s next?”  It is a regular question in our days, and it helps her organize her world.  Tonight during our nighttime routine we forgot to talk about what tomorrow will bring.  Since last Monday was a day off, she’s not sure.

“You’re right, tomorrow is Monday, and tomorrow is a school day.  Okay?”

“Awwww.  I cannot say okay Mommy.  Good night and sweet dreams.”

My wife and I crack up in the bathroom, “does she have any idea how funny she is?”  “Oh my gosh, so darn cute.”  But then we stumble on the gem, “But honestly, she’s right.  Honey, I have to work tomorrow, and I ‘cannot say okay.'”

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