This week we are featuring another personal story from one of our our David’s Gift families. Today’s story is from Irene, whose son 13 year old son Lachlan has diagnosed with both Asperger’s syndrome and ADHD. Her explanation of how a rewards chart works for Lachlan may give other parents some ideas about how to implement this in their families.
My name is Irene. My husband Jim and I have two children. Emily is 17 years old and Lachlan is 13.
Lachlan was diagnosed at age 7 with Asperger’s and ADHD. He was always an active child. His speech developed normally and all the major milestones were reached at the appropriate age. Someone once mentioned that Lachlan never maintained eye contact. I was always very worn out. When I took Lachlan to playgroup, he was always running about and I always seemed to be chasing him. It also took a lot of effort to get his attention when we were transitioning etc.
Lachlan began pre-school at age 4 and they were a little concerned about his listening and gross motor skills.
I had him assessed by an Early Childhood Organisation. They reported that there was nothing too major and he would be OK to begin school at age 5.
Within the first week of Kindergarten, Lachlan’s teacher asked me if Lachlan had had his hearing checked. He did not seem to be responding in the classroom. Now I was concerned. After a visit to the school counsellor, a hearing test was organised. All was normal, but speech therapy began for receptive and expressive language delays. I also noticed that Lachlan was constantly asking questions repeatedly.
Two years later, we got the diagnosis of Asperger’s Syndrome/ADHD. We were totally devastated, especially after reading the prognosis on the internet. This could not be happening to our son. And us!
Time went by and Lachlan attended a different school from Year 3. (IM class). Primary school went OK but there were obvious social problems. When Lachlan was in Year 5, we made a transition into our new home and were staying with grandparents in the interim. This change in routine was terrible for us as a family. Lachlan became very aggressive and we were at our wits end trying to control all situations.
We changed pediatricians and found a very informed, capable professor who suggested medication. All the natural therapies and behaviour management classes tried previously were not helping. We had a case worker helping us as a family. Our daily lives were in turmoil, with every minute of every day being a challenge. He would be outside at all hours screaming and swearing uncontrollably. We had Lachlan upsetting the new neighbours and we felt very isolated and self conscious. We got assistance from a case worker at Northcott Disability Services who gave us strategies for managing Lachlan. I attended a Behaviour Intervention Course run by ASPECT and got follow up assistance from a case worker there also. This helped a little.
The medication was a lifesaver. I don’t think we would have survived this otherwise. Lachlan went from an angry, aggressive, abusive child to a loving, caring, calm child I thought that I had lost.
Lachlan began high school (IM class) and went OK for the first two terms. Then the social problems became worse. To cut a long story short, Lachlan received three suspensions in Terms 3 and 4. Year 8 brought forth three more suspensions in the first 6 weeks of school.
After much assistance and pure good luck, in March, Lachlan secured a spot in a new high school, (autism specific class). Things are going better, with the staff and I working together to manage each day.
We have found that a Home/School reward chart works well for Lachlan. I typed up a chart stating all of Lachlan’s periods and a space for the teacher’s to sign and comment. Three rules are to be followed by Lachlan, such as Follow Teacher’s Instruction, Complete Work, Speak Nicely to Others. Lachlan’s reward each day is two pieces of his favourite chocolate. This really motivates him.
Lachlan has a kind nature, and loves his flight simulator on his computer. He has a wide knowledge of the Titanic disaster, New York and Geography. He adores his grandfather, who is very patient and kind, spending many days together on the farm and in his shed. They even built a raft together to use in the dam. Lachlan also has many aunties, uncles and cousins who are always there to listen to his current special interests.
We take one day at a time, with my husband constantly updating Lachlan’s computer simulator with new planes etc. He also takes Lachlan to the city, which he loves and to libraries to read up on his interests. Lachlan plans to visit New York one day and is very excited that April, 2012 will be the 100th anniversary of the sinking of the Titanic.
Every day is a challenge. But we cherish the good moments.
Have you worked with a reward system similar to what Irene has set up? If so, please let us know what worked for you.