Well, I just went back and looked at my very first post and I realized that I never ever updated you guys on anything regarding the possibility of Jose having ADD/ADHD or something on the Autism spectrum!!! 😳 So, I thought that while it was on my mind, I’d address that.
To start out with, he has not been officially diagnosed with anything at all, so we haven’t had to get into any type of education plans with his school. That may change at a later date, but I’ll explain that further in. So, we had been seeing Dr. Beth Onufrak (excellent licensed child psychologist – I want to get her name out there for people seeking help as she deals SPECIFICALLY with children ages 3-8!) on a fairly regular basis. Of course, the very first thing we had done was address all of our concerns about Jose with her and she led us through a very detailed inventory/questionnaire that is used to pinpoint specific areas to focus on with a child.
The results made it clear that while he does have control issues and obsessive qualities, he falls outside of the autism spectrum, so that was a relief! Not that we would have loved him any less or felt as though there was something inherently wrong with him if he had been given an official diagnosis, but that would have been such a huge burden and it made breathing just a little easier knowing we wouldn’t have to bear that cross. In regards to the question of ADD/ADHD, whether or not he does have one of those disorders, it hasn’t affected him as of yet to the point that it is interfering with his life. Therefore, we set that concern aside for now, and will return to it in the future (if needed) once we see how he does in the full-time school setting. If we feel that things are becoming too difficult for him to handle, we will talk to Dr. Beth about revisiting possible treatment/therapy.
So, what did we talk about in our visits? Well, as I mentioned above, he has issues with control and obsessiveness. Basically, because he is quite intelligent, he wants to be able to do everything that adults can, and it frustrates the LIFE out of him when he can’t! He wants to do things his way, and he’s convinced that is way is the ONLY right way; when things don’t turn out how he expects them to, it’s very difficult for him to cope. 😦 Dr. Beth worked with Jose on flexibility and talking about things instead of keeping them bottled up inside.
For example: They would play a game where two of the puppets went to McDonald’s and knew EXACTLY what they wanted to order. (Jose always wanted to be the server/cashier.) One of the puppet’s orders would always have something wrong (no ranch dressing, only chicken nuggets when they wanted a cheeseburger, etc.) and that puppet would start to have a huge fit. The other puppet would talk to the first one about how to be flexible in a situation like that, and Jose would be drawn into the conversation to try and work out the best way for the upset puppet to react and handle the fact that things didn’t go as planned. <<<<This was an EXCELLENT tool and Jose still employs what he learned. 🙂
Another tool Dr. Beth gave us to use was an un-chart. As opposed to something like a chore chart where completing specific duties is required, this is way to earn stickers and rewards for exhibiting excellent behavior that we want to see repeated. Jose chose a picture of Caillou (two actually – one where he’s mad and one where he’s glad) and puts Littlest Pet Shop stickers on it whenever he earns one. Still not sure what I mean? Let me explain: Say Jose is met with an upsetting situation, and rather than having a fit about it, he says, “It’s okay, etc…”, he earns a sticker. Or perhaps he displays wonderful character qualities without being prodded to – he gets a sticker! I realize this may seem silly and as though we are rewarding behavior that we should EXPECT in the first place; I know I went into it feeling kind of like that. But let me tell you, it works! By acknowledging and specifically detailing the type of actions and mannerisms we want to see from Jose on a regular basis, he now better understands and can exhibit those types of behaviors. The change has been amazing! Not saying things are perfect – he IS a five-year-old boy after all – but thinking about where we were 6 months ago and where we are now? Totally worth the time, effort, AND money. 😀
After seeing Dr. Beth on a weekly and then bi-weekly basis through the end of June, Jose improved so drastically that we are only going in on a need-to basis at this point. If things start getting more out of hand again (ex: fits lasting longer than 5 minutes and/or happening more frequently than 2 times a month) we may begin regularly scheduled visits for a time, but as of now, neither we nor Dr. Beth feel it is necessary. Do you know what an amazing feeling that is???? We are so proud of Jose and all the progress he’s made. We see him put into practice what he’s learned on a daily basis – even just tonight, when Squishy broke his mini Etch-a-Sketch. In the past, this would have put him into an inconsolable rage that lasted quite awhile before he could be calmed down. Tonight, his face crumpled, and he started crying, but got it under control easily within the 5 minute time-limit. It helped that we had a movie playing, which distracted him, but in the past, that wouldn’t have made a bit of difference. WOO HOO!!!