Monday, May 19, 2014

Herding Cats: Trying to Manage the Insanity

I've been kicking this post around an awful lot recently.  I've known this blog hop was coming, and I thought I maybe had some good ideas to share.  Inevitably that's where things take a definitive left-turn - which is exactly what happened.  I'm looking at the topic for this hop, and honestly?  I'm anxious to see what everyone else has to say, because I'm about set to rip out my hair over here.

But, as I stopped to really think about it, I've realized there are a bunch of things we already do - things that might help other families.  And so, here we are again, full circle, with a bunch of suggestions for things that will hopefully help other people.

Tips and Tricks From Our House:

1) Routine.  In our house, routine is *essential.*  Not the scheduled to death, what time am I allowed to pee kind of routine, but...  We wake up in the morning, cuddle, get dressed and have breakfast.  Then we watch  Magic School Bus or Bill Nye The Science Guy, do our schoolwork, have lunch, and have free play.  On sunny days we go outside, on gross days we watch a movie.  I start dinner while Mad Natter plays whatever games he wants to play, then the TV goes off from dinner until bedtime at 7:30.  Lots of time to change things up, but there's also a sense of knowing what comes next day to day.

2) Physical activity.  My life is SO much easier when Mad Natter has had time to get out of the house and run.  Or run through the house even.  Jump on his trampoline - ANYTHING.  If he's able to burn off some of his excess energy, it makes a giant difference in how our day is going to go.

3) Scheduled breaks: In our homeschool day, I have set aside break times.  Math, which is usually his most mentally stimulating subject, is followed *immediately* by jumping on his trampoline.  Then we do handwriting and spelling.  Since spelling also takes sustained mental effort, it is followed by stretching.  After stretching is (depending on the day) a science experiment, history, or logic - all of which are considered "fun" subjects, and then we have reading.  Reading is followed by a 6m flat dash through the house to the Lone Ranger Theme.  It helps keep him from exploding along the way, and I'll take anything that helps there.

4) Anticipation.  This is one I learned over long times of failing.  I have to anticipate overwhelm, melting down, impulsiveness, and sensory needs - this means that when I go out, I have my big Blackhawks shoulder bag with me.  This has a ton of happy meal toys (they have to go somewhere!), a sensory brush, a book, a drink, a snack, coloring pages, a couple pull ups and a spare pair of pants inside, because every trip out of the house has to be planned like a war without that bag.  It ensures I have the tools to cope with most possible needs Mad Natter could have in a public space that aren't immediately easily met.  Things like reactive hypoglycemia. "Mooo-om, I'm thirsty!" Forgetting until the last minute that I can't read minds and whoops, potty-mergency.  Need to put him in the cart so I can actually move through the store without his pulling everything off shelves, or running off into the mall, here's something to DO while you're sitting.  I also have learned that a grown up jacket does well as a makeshift tent over the end of a department store cart, as is allowing Mad Natter to "steer" the cart - he can sit in the basket and imperiously point to where we need to go.

Of all the possible things to have in terms of tips, I find anticipation is the big one.  If I can head off a meltdown, the entire rest of the day goes much more smoothly.  If I forget my bag... I'd better be under five minutes in the store, 'cause otherwise I'm going to regret not having it, and wish I'd turned around for it.


You'll notice I have very little in tips and tricks for focus, and a lot for energy.  This is because it has been extremely easy for us to find ideas for how to cope with Mad Natter's sensory issues and his inexhaustible energy.  What has been less easy has been things like finding ways to deal with his inability to focus on one task from start to finish, his inability to listen to a full set of instructions (even if the instructions are "read the addition equation.  Use the same numbers to make a subtraction equation"), and his sudden flip from fine to R.A.G.E.  When you have a young boy with suspected 2E issues relating to things like ADHD, it is neigh impossible to find the resources you need to help.  Or, at least, it has been in our experience.  Every doctor we've seen has either misdiagnosed, or told us to come back when he's seven. They send us out of their offices with information on ADHD, but not anything to do with how to manage what they seem to be quietly telling me without pulling out all my hair before Mad Natter reaches seven.  It's been a matter of observation to get this far.  Getting farther...  That seems to be my challenge, and I'm truly hoping there is someone else out there (maybe even on this hop!) who has been right where I'm standing and can pass along some tips and tricks of their own to ensure that I am not putting away more wine than is good for... well, two or three of me.  ^_~

This post has been a part of the Gifted Homeschoolers Forum's May Blog Hop: Tips, Toys, Tricks, and Tools for Gifted and Twice Exceptional Kids.  Please check out the other bloggers on the tour - they have a wealth of great advice!