Monday, June 26, 2017

I've Been Really Trying Lately

I've Been Really Trying Lately
By Kodey Toney
This is part two from my visit to the Tulsa Autism Conference a couple weeks ago.
I think most everyone has been to church on Sunday morning when you feel like the preacher has chosen his sermon just for you. You get a little uncomfortable and start squirming in your seat just because you feel the pastor is talking directly to you. This is exactly how I feel each time I hear Dr. Jed Baker Speak.
Baker is a behavior specialist that works with all age groups, but particularly he has many books and programs for transitioning-aged students with disabilities.
I was fortunate to have an opportunity to speak with him in between sessions and he was very helpful and approachable. We talked about a new program that we are working on with the Pervasive Parenting Center that we want to begin in the summer to help with transition and social skills.
However, when he started speaking in the conference it was back to church for me. He started pointing out everything that I’m doing wrong as a father. Let me stop and explain something that I have said several times, I am not the perfect father. In fact, I am far from it.
I talk to parents everyday about ways to work with their children to help with behaviors, and ways to be better parents. However, when it comes to everyday parenting with my sons I sometimes forget those things. I guess that’s why I always say I’m not an expert. I get caught up in the moment and forget all of my training that I’ve been through. I yell, and I make situations worse which breaks the first rule that Dr. Baker brought up.
He stated, “If I can be chill I can help you be chill.” This is great advice and makes so much sense, and in the middle of my rants with the kids I often think this to myself and then I get upset with myself. I know better.
If we can keep our composure when our children are already overstimulated and on the verge of a meltdown then we can help them to stay calm. Your child can feel your frustration and feelings, even though we think they don’t fully understand emotions, they know when you are upset.
Which brings us to his next point. He said we don’t want to put out fires after they have been spread. We want to help prevent fires. I am always telling parents, educators, and professionals that the main focus for meltdowns or behavior is to stop it before it starts. I know that is easier said than done, but for the most part we are just looking for stemming behaviors or signs and then trying to find the reason behind the behavior.
If we can see that a child is starting to pace then we know there is a reason. If we can find the reason then we can start to deescalate the situation.
The refreshing part of his session was when he talked about going to the grocery store and his children act up, he’s dragging them down the aisle, and they are being loud and people think, “Aren’t you the behavior specialist?” It makes me feel good that I’m not the only one that is supposed to know better and still has problems.
Just remember, if you do your best, and you understand that you may have made things worse, then you can at least understand and try to change things the next time. I really do try to make things better the next time.

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