Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Green Faces

At Carson's school they use a face system to communicate behavior. A red face is a really bad day - time outs, screaming, not listening. etc. A yellow face is an okay day - maybe one time out, some redirection but overall okay. A green face is a great day - no time outs, little redirection, good listening, etc.

At the beginning of the school year we did not even use this system with Carson as he did not understand it and we had so many other things to focus on I have been told by his teacher that Carson is the most difficult student she has ever had. This is not exactly what you want to hear from your child's special education teacher.

I had letters home everyday regarding his behavior. He would not listen, he would run away, he would yell (self stimulating behavior), he would laugh in their face, etc. It was horrible. I would cry and then want to go to school and pick him up and never send him back. At one time we even had one of our doctors tell us to pull him out as he thought it was too stressful for Carson.

Every meeting with the teachers, Jay would worry about me as he knows just how protective I am. He would tell me to please not tell them off. Or please, just try to stay calm. Many times both of us would be completely deflated and end up crying after the meetings with the teachers.

I have had issues from time to time with the teachers and Carson's school but now that we are at the tail end of the year, I can tell you..... they totally helped my kid. I never thought I would say that. Eight months ago, I would have laughed at that. I knew that going to this school would be good for Carson but truthfully, I did not know if I could handle it. It was hard on me.

Not many three year olds ride a bus to school (something all his therapist were adamant about), spend four hours a day in a structured school classroom and have homework and therapy. To me, it was a lot.

I can honestly tell you one thing - he is a different kid than he was last September. He has friends he loves that love him back. He has an understanding for time out, his language has increased tremendously, he has come out of his shell, and he loves going to school.

This past Feb. we started using the face system as a way to communicate to Jay and I how the day went and also to try to get Carson to understand it. It may sound crazy but in this whole year, Carson has only had four really good days at school.

Most days he has a red or yellow face. Believe me, I am thrilled with yellow. Red still really upsets me as I know that he struggled that day. Greens (there have been 3.5 of them) are like winning the lottery. They not only make my day great but fill me up and affirm to me that what we are doing is working.

Yesterday, Carson got his fourth Green face. Well, it was a yellow and green mix but I consider it a green. If there is any green on that paper, it is a huge success.

We have been trying to motive Carson and reward him for good behavior. He knows that if he gets a green face he gets a present. Usually it is a new book that he gets to pick out but last night I was at Toys R' Us buying a gift so, I picked up a reward while I was there.

I decided to get Carson a tool kit. He had one when he was younger but it was too babyish for him now. This one is for bigger boys and he LOVED IT. He is always asking us for the tape measure, or screwdriver or hammer. Now, he has his own and he earned it.

After his bath last night, Jay and I reviewed his green face with him and gave him his reward. He opened it all up and then looked at me and said - "I can fix anything, mommy".

Yes you can Carson!- You can do anything you dream of!!!


Anonymous said...

Thank you both for sharing your story. Emily-you said it best when you mentioned that autism is out of people's comfort zone. I shared with Jay that autism hits close to home...and it terrifies me. When I was pregnant I had the flu shot and I could not sleep that night or the next because I started driving myself crazy worrying about thimerisol and wondering if maybe the missing link that doctors haven't discovered is that thimerisol is passed on to fetuses when mothers get the flu shot-not that I saw anything on any of the websites that says that...but still I was just full of worry. Braden had his two month appointment a couple weeks ago and we shared with our doctor that we don't want him to have any vaccines until he's two years old. Brad and I were both leaning in the direction of holding off, but I want to thank you both for the emails that you'd sent because for me that was what made me feel absolutely confident that we wait. I'm so grateful that our doctor is flexible-even though she shared that she doesn't believe there's a link, she did so in a caring way and also shared that she respects our decision. I know I haven't had many opportunities to spend time with your boys, but I do have to say that after seeing Carson at Logan's birthday party, I didn't walk away thinking that he seemed to have communication problems. I was impressed with his speech. I know I'm not an expert (I also don't play a doctor on tv) but overall I just thought he was a happy active boy! And actually, I thought I'd missed more birthdays and that he was already five. So even more so-I'm impressed with the progress that it sounds like you've made. Thank you for your vulnerability and for opening up your lives to others. I know you've already helped me. Love, Rose.

Anonymous said...

Go Green!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Anonymous said...

That was me by the way!