Leading up to this point in our lives, Connor’s schedule has been somewhat chaotic. Sure we had things regularly scheduled for different days: speech therapy at 9 on Mondays, behavior at 11 on Wednesdays and at 10 on Mondays, private therapy on Tuesdays at 1. Weeks may have bared resemblance to each other, but no two days seemed the same.
This can make life hard on a stubborn 2-3 year old. It was a complete nightmare for an autistic 2-3 year old who wanted the world ordered in a certain way. It was as if Connor woke up every morning with a clear idea of how things were going to go. If I could imagine how he saw his day going it would go something like this:
watch some Sesame Street or Clifford the Big Red Dog
eat breakfast of waffles with a full cup of syrup
play with trains
go to the par, dump sand on my head, try to escape mom
eat goldfish crackers
come home and watch the same cat videos over and over again
have more goldfish
play with water outside
go for a walk in the field by our house (walk exceptionally slowly)
have even more goldfish
play computer games, especially ones that count or ask questions and then walk away leaving computer game repeating itself in the background
demand hotdogs and applesauce for dinner
take a bath for an hour
play with trains
watch a Thomas the Train movie
never go to sleep ever
As you can see, this is a great day for any toddler! Yay! All the goldfish and dirt you can get! No responsibilities, no demands, no learning.
Connor would wake up and immediately start requesting these heavenly toddler activities. “Cat’s please?” or “Waffles? Waffles?” Some days I could accommodate and let him have a leisurely morning, watching some cat videos or taking 27 minutes to eat one waffle. More often than not I wasn’t able to accommodate.
“No, baby, we have to go to …..”
Great way to start any day, truly.
Other days, he’d be a little more reasonable and allow me to drag him to whatever activity with only minimal whining. But as soon as that activity was over he’d start requesting other things: “Mickey Mouse?” (meaning Disneyland–we have a pass) or “this one, this one?” (pointing to whatever we were passing he wanted to stop at which could be anything from the park to the mall to a frozen yogurt shop).
“No, baby, we have to go to….”
Can you see a pattern emerging?? Are you wondering how I could still have a few marbles rolling around up there? Me too…me too.
On the suggestion of Connor’s favorite therapist, and mine, Dr. David, I created a calendar to help him visualize what each day was going to hold. I could lay out the whole week or even month so he could see what was going to happen and then temper his expectations based on the calendar.
Ok…why the hell not? It’s worth a shot!
Ta da! Connor’s wall! Well technically it’s the door going into the kitchen which is absolutely pointless and doesn’t even have a doorknob. Thus it makes the perfect place for Connor’s art and calendar.
Here’s a better picture:
I used the magic of Google images to find pictures of a traditional school-house, Mickey Mouse, a playground, and his therapist, Dr. David. Using my new super cool laminater I cut out the images, laminated them and then attached each to the calendar on the corresponding day with double-sided tape.
The current day is indicated by a star attached in the upper right hand corner. The first activity of the day is layered over subsequent activities. You can see in the picture above school is placed on top of a picture of a person (that’s Connor’s dad). I did this so Connor could grasp the idea that we had to complete the first task in order to get to the one underneath. So for last friday, he had to go to school before he could go to his dad’s house.
I think he’s beginning to get the idea! He comes down in the morning and the first thing we do is look at the calendar. We move the star to today and I ask him what we have to do today. He tells me the activity and we start the morning without any crying! Yay!
(This doesn’t mean that Connor won’t start crying 5 minutes later when I ask him what he wants for lunch at school. But at least when he looks at the calendar and says the activity himself, he seems proud that he’s able to identify what’s happening.)
Every time we move the star Connor lights up when he tells me what today holds for him. If only I could see that smile today and everyday, my life would be perfect.