Hating Homework

Homework is an issue.

In the past, The Boy has put up quite a fuss about doing homework, but would usually end up doing it grudgingly. I sometimes made executive decisions about how much we would do, and whether or not we would do it, based on how meaningful I thought it would be.  Luckily, teachers over the past couple of years have been fairly understanding.

by .pstThis week marks our third week in school, and we have had very little to do, thankfully.  But on Thursday last week, The Boy dug his heels in and simply refused to write a paragraph for social studies, due the next day. I took away a privilege and wrote an email to his TA and his social studies teacher to give them a heads up.

The next day, we negotiated. We talked about promises, and what it means to give someone your word.  He then promised he would do his paragraph 5 minutes after dinner on Monday. We reminded him all weekend about his promise, and he seemed to understand and expect what we had talked about would happen.

Then Monday came.

After dinner, I brought my computer to his room, and the complaining began (“I wasted my time!” is a common refrain). I wheedled and cajoled, reminded him of just how serious it was to give someone your word and go back on it. I asked him how he felt when someone broke a promise to him.

Nothing.

I failed.

I told him I was not going to argue with him about homework all night, but that he had broken a promise, and warned him that the next time he needed me to trust him, I probably wouldn’t because he broke his word.  And I sent another email to the school.

This is a common issue in autism households.  However, I don’t think I will be able to persuade an IEP team to eliminate homework entirely. Which means I have another nine months of this to look forward to.

Tomorrow’s another day.

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My Bright Spot

I mentioned I have a new tutoring student.  She is in kindergarten and has developmental delays, both physical and otherwise.  A petite little thing, I need to hold her hand to climb the stairs to the tutoring room where I work.  She doesn’t often look me in the eyes unless I’ve told her she made a mistake or has a wrong answer, when she looks at me with eyebrow cocked, as if annoyed with me for not complying with her view of the way things are.  She often repeats nursery rhymes and facts she’s heard about random things, word-for-word, in that way I know so well from my own son.

She has a tube of some sort – I haven’t asked – and doesn’t take much food orally, so I brought stickers today for working hard for me.  She is whip smart, knows all of her letters, and their sounds, as well as many, many numbers.  We’ve been working a bit on adding (up to 5), and clapping syllables.  At some point today, she chose a sticker of a rhinoceros.  “The rhinoceros, ‘rhino’ for short, has a horn on his nose,” she recites.  “Rhinoceros!” I say,  “How many syllables?”

“Rhi-no-cer-os!” she says with a clap for each syllable, as I toss a foam block onto the table for each clap.  She smiles broadly as she sees the blocks splay out in front of her.  She taps each block as she repeats each syllable, “Rhi-no-cer-os!”  she says, victorious.  “How many?” I ask.  “One-two-three-four!” she replies, tapping each block again. “Four!” she exclaims, triumphant.

I am just as excited, happy that I am able to help her make a connection, giving her something concrete to hold on to while she tackles these abstract concepts.  She makes my day. 🙂

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Queen of Procrastination

By Portobellostreet

That’s what it should say on my nametag.  Yes, I have valid reasons for it many times, and in any case, I’m pretty sure it’s not something that’s going to change.  In this case, I have been procrastinating getting back into the exercise thing, thinking that if The Man and I set a date for a wedding, I’d have a great motivation and a goal all rolled into one, so why start exercising until we have that set?…

See how my mind works?

Well… We haven’t set a definite date.  And I realize that this is just procrastination in disguise.

After checking out this post and then this post over at zenhabits.net (I know, I KNOW, research on the internet is another not-so-clever disguise for procrastination, too!), I developed a plan, keeping in mind my previous insights into my own roadblocks to exercising, and the great points in the posts about triggers, motivation, and goals.

  1. Step One: go to bed earlier (9:30 instead of 10).  I had an epiphany when I realized there was no real reason to stay up until 10, as I am often tired before then.  The Man and I used to talk on the phone after The Boy’s bedtime, but we talk earlier in the evening now, ergo I do not have to stay up that late…
  2. Step Two: Three times per week, I will wake up 20 minutes early to fit in yoga, or the bike, or some other cardio or strength training (that I’ve probably found on Pinterest).
  3. My goal is to lose a few inches off my “hips”.  This is my trouble spot, and the reason my pants are starting to not-fit.
  4. Report: I will measure myself once a week, and post about it to you people (even if you don’t want to hear about it), because it’ll make me accountable (probably on the simpleijustdo.com facebook page).
  5. Reward: I will also reward myself if I meet my plan each week.  No food!  Just books, shoes or other mild obsessions…

I hope I’m ready for this!  I hope I can stick with it for awhile!

Starting measurement: 41″ (Ugh…)

The Best Advice

My grandma used to say, “Do your best and that’s all you can do.”  It’s kind of a funny saying, but I repeat it to myself often, in particular because of the last part.  Anyone who loves me and knows me, knows that I am my very own worst critic, and that I’m often hypersensitive to criticism only because whatever you were going to say to me, I’ve already berated myself about inside my head about 57 times.  Sometimes I need to cut myself a break.

There’s a great book called the Inner Game of Tennis by Timothy Gallwey (I actually read the also great book, The Inner Game of Music by Barry Green and Timothy Gallwey, based on the same ideas), and one of the founding principles is that in order to perform well, you need to find a way to shush those inner “you-can’t-do-it” voices, the “judges”, as he calls them.  You have to find a way to take away their power to suck the very lifeblood out of you, because they will if given the chance.

I’m not a perfectionist, but I do have high expectations for myself, and the things I need to do, because often I am the only one to do them.  If I can’t, it won’t get done, which can lead to more problems.  But Grandma was exactly correct – if I’ve done my best (which is almost always the case) that’s all I can do!

After a full school day, starting at 7:30pm, getting out of my last school meeting at 5:00pm, talking to The Man on the brief ride home, having an hour to sit (whew!) and then heading out for another meeting that lasted a solid two hours, talking to The Man again on the brief ride home, and finally able to take my heels off at 9:30pm (after talking to Fantastic Babysitter, settling The Boy, and realizing I hadn’t eaten dinner), I realize I have done the best I can do today, and that’s all I can do.  Working out will have to wait until tomorrow.

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Pomo What? How the Pomodoro Technique is like Behavioral Therapy

As we head back into the sPomodoro techniquechool season which is hectic for most parents, and extremely hectic for the special needs parent (can anyone say, “Transition”??), I have to admit that I sometimes need motivation to get done all of the things that need to get done.  In other words, I need something to get my butt in gear when it comes to chores at home, because in my whole scheme of things, they are often the last priority.

If you aren’t familiar with lifehacker.com, it is a site that offers lots of techie tips, but also its fair share of life techniques that can help you simplify processes and save time.  A few months ago, I read about The Pomodoro Technique on lifehacker, and have been using it with considerable success in my own life.  There are even free apps for using this technique, which makes it even better.

The gist is that you set your timer for 25 minutes, and work straight through at your task until the timer goes off.  You then reward yourself with 5 minutes to do whatever you’d like.  You can also modify those numbers, if you want to work for shorter or longer, or reward yourself for shorter or longer.  Only you know what will work for you.

Those of us familiar with visual schedules and behavioral therapy recognize this basic principle of “work-then-reward”, and the truth of human nature lies within – it’s hard to be intrinsically motivated when doing things you hate to do.  The best part is that I am not too overwhelmed to get started on my chores when I break them down into 25 minute chunks, and I can walk away in the middle if I need to attend to something else.

Check out the lifehacker article here, and the official website here.

What tricks do you use to get everything done?