A note from James about dogs

James

Hello everyone. This is James. Today I want to share one of my best stories.

A long time ago we got a dog called Scout. He was very sad and worried so he went to live on my mum’s friends farm. I really missed him. It was sad that our house was not a good place for him.

Last weekend we went all the way to Dalby to see a cute puppy. She went to sleep on my lap. She followed me everywhere. When I got there I just saw one puppy and there were four more. I liked Pepper because she was the first dog to sit in my lap. She thought my lap was comfy. We hope to pick her up in two weeks. We will call her Pepper.

Pepper

Note from Libby:

At the start of the year we got a rescue dog called Scout.  He was the most beautiful dog and the boys and he had a mutual admiration society.  What we didn’t know is that Scout had chronic anxiety. We enlisted the help of a dog trainer/psychologist and after a few weeks they recommended he be rehomed.  He wasn’t well and he required constant supervision.  We just couldn’t give him what he needed to thrive.  The boys were devastated and we were all traumatised.  Since then we’ve been researching and have sought advice from a number of people regarding the selection of breed etc.

Pepper is half miniature poodle and half Bichon Frise.  This is a breed that doesn’t tend to bark.  They don’t shed and they are good with kids and other animals. Pepper’s parents both have mellow, affectionate natures.  Pepper is really gentle and cuddly. Tom loved them all but James just loved that one little girl. She kept following James everywhere and would lie on his shoes.  Scout is thriving where he is which is a blessing. The boys did so love him.  It really would be nice to have a happy ending for everyone.

Behaviour Management and ASD

Lately, it feels like all we do is nag, redirect, yell and argue in our house. Know that feeling? Being on the Autism Spectrum, both boys are sensitive to mood referral. They often respond to negative vibes from those around them. I call it the “meet and beat” phenomena. Wherever I’m at emotionally, they will meet me there and then take it one step further (beat)! Strong emotions, yelling and arguing therefore really spell disaster in our home.

I decided that we needed to try something different so I pulled out all my books on behaviour management and discipline. 1-2-3-Magic by Thomas Phelan is often recommended to ASD families as being an effective management system. http://www.123magic.com/ It is simple to follow and easy to implement.

1 2 3 magic

After re-reading the book again and pulling out the key points, we started the program yesterday. This book suggests that as parents we have three jobs:

  1. Controlling obnoxious behaviour
  2. Encouraging good behaviour
  3. Strengthening your relationship with your child

It says that the two biggest discipline mistakes we can make are talking too much and becoming too emotional in our responses to our children’s behaviour. We really do tend to over-talk as parents don’t we? And let’s be honest, keeping your cool is extremely difficult!

1-2-3-magic

So how do you do 1-2-3 Magic? In essence – if your child is not behaving appropriately you say: “Fred – that’s 1!” Wait 5 seconds. If the behaviour continues then you say, “Fred – that’s 2!” Again, wait 5 seconds. If the behaviour still continues, you then say, “Fred – that’s 3! Take 5!”

At this point the child should be removed to their room or to a chair in a specific spot for approximately 5 minutes or one minute per year of age. If they won’t go you escort them there giving no eye contact and saying nothing. Once their time is up, you say “Time’s up!” and the child can leave their room.

The program states there should be no further conversation about the misbehaviour. This is the one aspect of the program I’m unsure about with my boys. I think they may need a quick restorative chat so that they can apologise, and so we can explicitly say we forgive them and that we still love them. We may add this step in if it becomes necessary.

It’s only day 2 but already the whining and the attempts at negotiating every point are reducing. We are calmer and therefore so are they. The boys understand how the system works and the tight boundaries of it are reassuring to them, I think. The success of any behaviour management system is sticking with it, being consistent and not deviating from the system. Will keep you posted 😀