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Monday, May 2, 2011

The Art of Failing


April Vacation has come and gone and let me tell you....My darling Nathan is a handful on a good day. That week, Nathan was a saint. This last vacation sent a few of my kids into a froth of an epic proportion.

Now, we are not a special needs program, but our population is about 1/3 SPED. A few of our kids have diagnoses (Autism, Asperger's and quite a few with ADHD coupled with OCD and ODD) and a few who should have one.

I know that as a parent and a special needs advocate, I am perhaps on a different level of preparedness for my child than others. Granted, Nathan had the extra advantage of having me around that week, but to be fair, he RARELY if at all came to me for help or if the Drama Llama reared it's ugly head. I had a handful of children with bucketloads of issues, that could have been easily prevented. I'd like to pass along a few tips, a primer if you will, if you child has some challenges or even if they don't, how to NOT set your kid up to fail.


SEND THEM WITH ENOUGH FOOD TO FEED 3 CHILDREN:

On an average school day, kids will eat between 75 to 85% of what their parents pack them. On a vacation day, they will eat all of it and will scour the floor for crumbs or do a pitiful interpretation of "Oliver Twist".  Kid's energy can skyrocket when out of their normal environment and routine, so plan accordingly.

DON'T PACK THEIR LUNCHBOX LIKE IT'S A TRICK OR TREAT BAG:

No joke, a child with ADHD had in their lunch filled with 2 mini bags of M&M's, chocolate covered pretzels, chocolate chip cookies, a chocolate milk and a turkey sandwich. Take a WILD guess which one they ate first. Now, I know you're saying, "Their diet is limited, they will only eat certain things..." My Aunt Sis, who is 83 and will kick your ass at Scrabble says, "Kids will eat if they are starving, no matter how picky they are".  Nate is a picky eater and a picky sensory eater. However, we have found a variety of things that he likes to eat: low fat string cheese, protein bars and 100% juice are all quick, sensory friendly and pretty darn healthy in comparison to the chocolate diet this poor kid had. All that sugar revs them up and makes them have so much energy that they literally cannot control themselves. Be ye warned.

PS: Also, make sure your child doesn't have the extra sugary snack that they may give to said child who doesn't handle sugar well. When the ADHD sugar crazed child is asked where they got their snack from, they'll say, "OH! So and so gave it to me!" Be ye warned, twice!

PPS: Okay, I sound like the sugar police. Don't get me wrong. Nate has his share of sugary things. But it's in moderation and it's not late at night. He has lots of protein to balance the bad stuff he may ingest. I'm suggesting keeping the candy aisle out of the lunch box. If you must add a little something, a small piece of dark chocolate (which is lower in sugar and good for them with all those yummy polyphenols) does wonders.

DO NOT PACK MEDICATION FOR YOUR CHILDREN TO DOSE THEMSELVES:

Same child with ADHD shows me a baggie with a small white pill in it. I ask, "What is this?" They say, "Oh, it's my Concerta, my Dad gave it to me to take when I got here." It was 11 AM when we discovered the pill, the child does not have the proper documentation for us to dose them with and we know it will be a challenging day because the child's parent neglected to give them their meds at the proper time. And to top that off, the child is 7 YEARS OLD, who can't and shouldn't be held responsible for remembering to take his Concerta. Please, remember to medicate your child before the day starts.

KNOW YOUR CHILD'S LIMITS.

A child on a vacation day may not behave the same than on a school day. Feelings, emotions and other situations may be heightened, which can lead to fights, tantrums or meltdowns. 
One child was literally hurling themselves into a group of other children because they were tired, anxious and sensory and attention seeking.  If you know your child can't handle a full day, please make arrangements to have your child picked up early. I know alot of parents work, as do I. I know it's hard to find quality child care and even harder to have a back up plan, but do it. It's necessary. 

Alright, I'm done with the soapboxing. I'm not saying that I am perfect or Nathan is perfect. I'm encouraging you to know your children and to prepare accordingly. Nate gets super hungry on a dime so I throw 4 or 5 protein bars in his backpack so he always knows he has a little something to snack on. I make sure he takes his meds on time. I have him get his own things ready so that he knows what he has and what he doesn't. A little prep work goes a long way to help your children help themselves so they won't come home to douse your walls with grape juice, glitter and shaving cream. 

Just saying...


1 comment:

  1. Great post! I do need to point out that your Aunt is wrong. There ARE children who will not eat, even when starving. DS7 is one. He'd melt down because of the low blood sugar long before he'd eat something. In addition to mild AS, OCD and SPD, he has colitis and reflux and is extremely underweight despite our constant efforts. Eating hurts. He would much rather starve than eat and it's truly awful to deal with.

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