Tuesday, October 22, 2013

The Tea Party

This post is not at all about politics.

No, wait. Maybe a little. But not in the way that you may be thinking.

Since first grade started a couple of months ago, we have been dealing with Playette exhibiting some undesirable behaviors at school.

She wasn't doing anything horrible, but our situation lends itself to a certain level of anxiety for people like me, even when she does things that aren't all of that different from the average student. 

I've seen and heard other parents of children who have special needs and are fully included share similar feelings. 

I know it's not supposed to be like this, but it's like we are waiting for someone to say that our children don't belong there, that they have done something that prevents them from continuing to earn that seat in the classroom, accessing the general education curriculum.

I would sit at home the last couple of months and wait for the phone call that requested a meeting or an email that said this placement was just not going to work anymore. 

It happens, y'all. It happens all the time. It shouldn't, but it does. And all of us who live in the world of IEPs are aware of it. So we wonder and we worry and maybe we also put unrealistic expectations out there for our children, hoping that they will prove to everyone just how wrong they really are.

The fact remains that our kids are sometimes judged unfairly. They are overly scrutinized. They are held to different standards simply because they are not average. 

This topic reminds me of a presentation that I saw over the summer at the last NDSC convention. The session was called "Doing the Detective Work to Create Positive Behavior Change" and it was led by Mr. Scott Shepherd. The following slides truly resonated with me.

This was exactly it. I had never seen it put quite this way before and unfortunately this is the approach that many people take when it comes to interacting with people with special needs. There's this cloak of pessimism that is draped over every action. 

So, with all this in mind, I was scared. I was nervous about what that would it would mean for Playette if we couldn't get to the root of her issues. 

I womaned up and crawled out of my proverbial hidey-hole and initiated some conversations. Some modifications were made. Accommodations were put in place. And then it hit me. What was it that she really wanted? What could we use as an incentive?

A tea party.

And you know what? It's working. For the past two weeks, she has had more good days then not-so-good days. She is earning all kinds of cute and fanciful stickers. I have every book in our library system that even references tea parties either in our house or on hold. I have supplies waiting to be turned into a large poster where all of her daily awards can be displayed.

I never in my life thought I would be bribing my child. So, instead I will call it "positive behavior reinforcement."

Ah, that feels better.

I'm not sure when or where this party will be. I guess I need to get on the ball with making an actual plan. At some point, she's going to get tired of the stickers and want something to actually take place.

I am not a crafty mom or a girly-girl, so this is going to really be outside of my comfort zone.

But, hey, what else is new?


JB said...

Adults sometimes forget that we get bribed every two or four weeks. It's called a paycheck. Our employers bribe us to show up and do a good job. Same thing with Playette and all children, just with stickers and tea parties.