If you have a child with special needs that is overstimulated by the world around him/her you might be able to relate to me on this.
I feel as though my child has 1 setting 99% of the time and it’s ON. And because he’s always on, I’m always on. When he had his last appointment with his OT she asked me if I got a break at all during the week simply because, while she finds my son super sweet and enjoyable during OT (he hasn’t misbehaved for her yet), she knows he is non-stop with everything from the almost constant motion of his body to his constant talking/questioning.
Today we went to pick up his younger brother like we do 3 times a week every week since the beginning of September and I knew he was going to have a hard time being good while we waited the 5 or 10 minutes we normally do until we can pick him up from his classroom door. I had, had him number the new calendar we bought for his school area and writing about 26 consecutive numbers had taken about 30+ minutes. He usually finds a way to decompress after something he finds strenuous and usually it includes some sort of “naughtiness”.
For some reason today he went all out. It varied from sitting in a chair and causing it to literally jump across the floor to wrapping himself around the chair and refusing to get out of it to stand next to me … and that’s just the tip of the iceberg. Unfortunately, every other parent was in the same area with us (which happens to be the only area you can wait in as well as quite small) and I’m sure it all looked just lovely. Since neither I nor my son wear shirts saying “please excuse us, he’s not badly behaved he’s actually having difficulty processing the world around him appropriately” I always feel as though most parents see a super bratty, out of control child. I remember it was this way with my much younger brother, especially before he was verbal.
I have to learn how to tell myself that it doesn’t matter what they think they see. This is my reality and I need to focus 100% on de-escalating the situation instead of allowing 10% of my brain to worry about what those around me think. Hard if not almost impossible to do, but I’ve just got to commit to trying.
I got home feeling embarrassed and so disappointed and mystified by the level to which he took it. He’s had some quiet time in his room and I’ve talked with him about it. He had a super lovely fit in the car and partially at home. He tends to get extremely frustrated and emotional so it’s never a simple talk, but at least he’s calmed now. *sigh* Got to love days like today.
Anyway, as soon as he calmed I sat myself down and had this moment of intelligence where I realized there must be other parents in my situation and that token system apps had to exist in this modern world to aid us in making it through situations like that. I have a background in ABA so that tends to be along the lines of where my mind goes when it comes to handling behavior with both my kids, but especially my older one (who is currently receiving OT and soon to be receiving swallow/food therapy as well as having his neuropsych eval done this month). Had I had a token board with me and been able to avoid the entire thing all together since I sensed he was on edge, it would have been a much better experience for everyone involved. I googled and came across this great site called iautism.org, landing on a page specifically on reviews for token/reward system apps. I read through them all and decided on “Working4” by Pyramid Educational Consultants.
The program actually looks like what I was hoping for–albeit a bit uncomplicated and basis, but it should serve its purpose!
I messaged my husband while he was at work and he agreed we should buy it. For $2.99 I’m more than willing to try it out if it can bring a little more peace for both my son and I. I’ve used a token board before with my 2 boys, but it was for daily goals as well as an overall weekly goal. I’ve also used token systems in which my son’s goal would be to earn something super small for notably good behavior void of several of the biggest behavioral issues he deals with between a short period of time like 9am and lunch–which seemed to be the trouble period of time back then.
After I give this app a whirl I’ll be sure to report back here and review it based on how effective it’s been for us. My fingers and toes are crossed that it will be effective, but you just never know.
Downloading was easy by the way. Here are simple instructions:
1. Go to PECS.com
2. Choose your primary language by pressing the flag representing your country
3. Click “Downloads” at the top navigation menu
4. Choose Pyramid Apps from the list
5. Scroll down to Working4 and click the link for “Purchase through Android Market”
I personally prefer to order on my computer and have it sent to my phone instead of downloading and paying on my phone, but you can also go straight to the Android Market and search for Working4 and purchase it that way. You will have to pay through Google Wallet with either method, but I simply delete the card that they automatically put on file when I pay right after it goes through.
One thing I’d like to note is that the version I downloaded allows you to take picture and videos for objects you’d like to earn. I haven’t used this function yet, but I will definitely review how it goes when I post on this later on down the road.
Do you have any other recommendations for apps that work for you with your special needs child?