I've been working for awhile on getting Nathan to express his feelings appropriately. I'm trying something new: a feeling journal.
This isn't something I've read about so I'm feeling things out on my own for this one.
My thought is that I need to encourage Nathan to talk about his feelings when he's calm since it's too hard when he's upset. As it gets easier, hopefully I can prompt him to use it in crisis times too.
My therapist has always encouraged me to write my feelings down when they get too overwhelming. The act of writing is like the act of telling someone else, it gets the thoughts in my head outside my body so they don't keep whirling around and around.
I thought I'd try the same technique with Nathan. But he hates writing. Anything fine motor is a real challenge for him. So I'm using the video camera on the iPad to let him film little "journal entries" using a set formula:
I feel ____ when ....
He's got little cards with 6 feelings on them: happy, scared, sad, frustrated, angry and hurt. I drew little faces on them with the different expressions. Cartooning sites are a great help for figuring out the basics. (Here's one I found helpful.)
If he does an entry for 2 different feelings, he gets 20 minutes of iPad time.
If he can go the entire day without losing his temper, he gets 30 minutes of computer time. (We've discovered its harder for him to control his temper if he's using the computer. We get the same effect with the iPad but on a lesser scale. TV is even less.)
Right now the entries are simple. I feel sad when someone tells a bad joke. I feel frustrated when I can't get my Lego to stay together. I feel happy when I'm with my family.
I'm supervising to encourage him to journal different experiences. (He tried to use the bad joke one three times in one day.)
I'm going to make him do at least one entry per day. When he gets more comfortable, I might encourage him to tell the best and worst part of his day as part of the journal entry but I'll see how this goes first. We're still in the first week so this could all fall apart after the honeymoon period.