Alex had to practice making cupcakes this weekend. They’re doing procedural writing in class and his teacher and aide suggested he make cupcakes for his class as his assignment. He’ll make the cupcakes at school, but to give him his best shot, it’s easiest if it’s a familiar task. Hence, the practice.
Now, Alex still doesn’t eat solid food. Everything has to be pureed. So he has no interest in eating cupcakes once they’re made, which tends to get rid of the one reward most people have in mind when they go to the trouble of making cupcakes. I needed to come up with a reward to keep him interested.
I made him a deal. He helps with the cupcakes and then we go to the Museum of Science and Technology (one of his favourites).
He did a good, if reluctant, job of helping out. He participated in all the steps and identified the tools and ingredients. I gave him a break between every step and we had fresh cupcakes without any major meltdowns. A few headbangs, but nothing major.
Time for the outing. Taking Alex to a public place, particularly one where you know there’ll be lots of other children, is a stressful event. I have to worry about his behaviour and be on guard for him pushing or hitting other people. I have to worry about him getting lost and striking out on his own since he won’t stop when I tell him, particularly if he’s excited. And I have to worry about accidents since he’s not toilet trained. For this outing, I decided to put him in a pull-up to avoid one of the worries.
I’m sure lots of people would disagree with my decision. Certainly I’ve heard chapter and verse from various therapists over the last four years about how critical it is to absolutely consistent in using underwear and prompting him to use the toilet. My response: been there, done that. We did 18 months with only underwear and it was incredibly stressful and unpleasant, but we did it. He showed no interest in advancing his skills. No offence to the professionals, but reality sometimes has to trump theory. It’s one thing to be absolutely consistent and limit your activities for a set time. Most typical kids can be trained within weeks at worst. We’ve been at this for four years.
The museum trip went surprisingly well. I’d made my preparations, I didn’t have another child to worry about and I mentally prepared myself for the boredom and repetition as he stims off his favourite exhibits. It helps that one of the most annoying ones is gone. He spent about half an hour pressing the five by five display grid buttons in various patterns, we had a few running tours through the digital network tunnels and about fifteen minutes in the Crazy Kitchen. The museum wasn’t too crowded and there were no school tours, which definitely helped. At the end I got him a Newton’s cradle from the gift shop and it’s proving quite popular.
It was nice to be out with Alex and not be having to constantly shout for him or tell him not to do things. I’m sure he gets as sick of it as I do. He wasn’t learning anything, but frankly, I’m betting most of the kids there walked out without any more info than they had when they walked in. He got a good outing and some exercise, which is all I was looking for.