Thursday, November 29, 2012

Greasing the palm of the flappy hand

I have discovered bribing....and I think I LIKE it. Praise heaven above, the Goddess, Santa and whatever higher power that makes Pixar movies crack for kids. Something that actually gets my son's attention!

If there was an easy button for Autism, this would be mine. [disclaimer:This works for me. I don't know if it will work for you] I was at the store and there was a whole mess of match box cars on sale for $.69 so I purchased them, thinking I would just save them. I had to pick up Emerson so I hid them in this awesome drawer that is under the passenger seat of my new(to me) mom-mobile mini van. The MMMV! I hid them and promptly forgot about them, ADD style.

We live about 3 miles from my mom so it's our go-to outing destination(jealous of us world travelers aren't you?!) Emerson does not do well going home, he wants adventure.*Take that Autism stereo-types!*  So on one such day, sporting a headache and dealing with all three kids solo because the hubby was on night shift, I loaded the MMMV up with my spawn. I was trying to buckle the squirmy baby in the to-small-for-him infant carrier(that's now been remedied btw) listening to seven year old Meadow complain for the umpteenth time,when she mentions the word
Brain melting screaming ensues from Emerson.

"NOT go HOME! Home is broken! Home is absent!!! WhaaaaAAAA!!"

Thanks Meadow! I think "what can I do before he makes the baby cry too?" light bulb! I remember the cars.(and pat myself on the back for being such a thrifty spender, never mind the copious amounts I spend at Starbucks <--Don't judge)

"Emerson, do you want a present?"
"Whaa-Oh yes!" wipes eyes.
"You may have a present if you sit in your seat and be happy until we get home."
"Oh yes!....Mama, Mama, Mama, you want to go home??"

Well that little trick has served me well on many occasions, like over stimulating birthday parties at ChuckEcheese(I know I'm insane) or trips to friends houses, when he refuses to go back to the humdrum of our safe boring house, that I've dubbed the "fish bowl" btw.

I make sure to use this technique only when needed, triaging each situation for magnitude of meltdown so we can avoid the most atomic ones because, really, if he is that upset his brain stops working.(and so does mine for that matter) I use it sparingly like you would morphine in that triage scenario, because too much would be damaging but it makes me feel better knowing I have options. I'll go with this novel of metaphors and say picking your battles can make all the difference, like mushroom-cloud-difference.

 I know some people may judge my use of the word "bribery" because what I'm really talking about is reinforcement. I sort of like the image of myself as a 1920's gangster though, trying to corrupt my son with toy cars and iPhone apps.(better than being a triage nurse)  But what the futz? It's about survival and those meltdowns look like they must kill brain cells, so we do what works and whatever will get us a wiggle on!        <--20's slang is the elephant's eyebrows

1920's? Autism? Would that make him a flapper? Bwahaha!


  1. I love the line "NOT go HOME! Home is broken! Home is absent!!! WhaaaaAAAA!!" My son does the same thing, and the little booger (he has told me recently that he is a booger, and I see no reason to argue) has figured out when we are done errands and yells "no turn here!" whenever we take the road into our community. I might have to try bribes, er, positive reinforcement, if he continues to do this, for both our sakes.

  2. I don't see anything wrong with this. It's positive reinforcement and it works! I'm not sure why this sort of thing has gotten a bad wrap. I use it for my kids. The 2 oldest get allowance. Bubby also earns reward points for certain things that I keep track of on a chart. Right now we are working on learning our address and phone number. In the past we have done wearing glasses and other things.

    Oh, and my boys like to be out and about, too. Especially Beans. Home is boring.

  3. Awesome ! I figured this out a couple years ago, first it was stickers, loves stickers, likes to feel them in his fingers. Used to be a sticker addict! Killed 3 vacuums during that time period. Then we moved onto Disney movies, or any movie I could interest him in. Oh, the whole reason for my bribary was so I could take him to the store with me and he would behave, well act better, well stay in the immediate area with me and not eat things or open things I haven't put in the cart. It was a rough start,and even now at 14 he tries my patience, we do match box cars or any form of transportation, he knows if he's not good he gets nothing, we get the toy last. If he's not good then the whole trip sucked anyway so the screaming 14yr old, 5'4 terror of spinning flapping teenager that is making everyone cringe doesn't really phase me anymore, it is what it is. We also get ice cream when we are good at the doctors for shots and McDonalds when he has had an exceptionally good weekend, and WAWA on friday when I pick him up from the sitters if he has been good in school all week. Now all of our ASD kids have different issues and our "good" and your "good" might vary, but in the end they are happy and it's progress. I'm not going broke doing this, it's a constant struggle for him, but its better some days because of the bribary !! We started High School this year and he picked up some random words that are totally inappropriate, so now if he uses those words then we can't go to WAWA. Pick your battles and remember to reward them even if it's something small and the rest of the day was horrible. Everyone needs encouragement !! :)