Last updateMon, 28 Jan 2013 9pm

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Family Life

Quick communication to help mum and dad!



The big problem with jelibeans is they never know when to stop. Is that what you think? I know it's what I've always told myself, but actually, all our children do have a variety of different functions that can be installed and learnt. Let's look at some of them.Boy running




Bear with me, as I ask you to imagine that your child is a DVD RECORDER. Familiarise yourself with the main function buttons - play, stop, record, mute, fast-forward and rewind. Six simple buttons that perform six very different and very essential functions. Aspie children, especially those with a liberal helping of Attention Deficit (a difficulty in paying attention to what's demanded), are like little go-karts, without the brakes. They're all over the place, careering around like small uncontrollable tornadoes, wreaking havoc in their paths. They're on fast-forward. But in their heart of hearts Aspie kids love structure, routine, a feeling of safety and despite their extraordinary behaviour, they actually don't like feeling out of control. Believe me, I know this from personal experience.

DVD Head

I'm sure that some friendly and gentle marshmallow child expert has advised you to give clear, concise instructions to your jelibean child, just one instruction at a time, Short-term memory is generally poor in jelibeans, bite-sized chunks are about right, hence the video recorder. Talk to your child about ways of learning how to edit their own thoughts and behaviour, and process them efficiently. Triggering your child to either get a move on, by saying "fast-forward", or getting them to slow down by saying "rewind", "stop", "mute" and "play" are self explanatory. The "record" instruction indicates to your child that they have to switch their memories on and consciously remember something specific and important, perhaps by repeating it several times.

Spectrum kids love rules, provided they know what they are, and they remain constant. Rules have to be learnt. Jelibeans can and do learn very nicely, thank you, provided they are switched ON, yes that's right, switch them ON!

"OK stop!" I hear you all shouting, "that's half the problem, we cant find the OFF button!" Yes I know they are technically "ON", but can be on the wrong function. In my experience, with my kids, you often have to stop them to start them again. You see, a jelibean does have a lot of trouble moving from one learning experience to another, we get a bit lost and confused along the way, so it's always best to finish one experience before attempting to start another.

STOP works well, even though it sounds curt and bossy, provided that your child is aware of the rules, to alert your jelibean that they should really, think a little, before the mouth or body goes into full operational mode! PAUSE is a kinder alternative and your jelibeans will love to play the game of silent statues, like a frozen screen. Then you can say PLAY, and they go back to what they were doing, but this time a bit more aware that an activity doesn't have to get out of control. And MUTE is always a good game when everyone's talking at once, as they tend to do when jelibean friends come round or if, like me, you have five jelibeans constantly battling over who's right and who's wrong and who started it and whose fault it is.

Learning to SLOW themselves down is a good place to start if you're failing to get your message across. All you marshmallows out there won't find that too difficult, but whoa, we jelibeans seriously need to calm down! Seriously folks, it's all very well everyone complaining that our children are out of control, and depending on how bouncy a jelibean you are will indicate what kind of speed you operate on. Try looking at yourself. If I'm anything to go by, the word SLOW has never existed in my language. SLOW is for other people, but NOT ME. But if I have to do SLOW for my children, I can force myself to take my foot of the accelerator.

As for me, I sometimes have to explain to others, particularly to people on the phone, that my short term memory is poor, and that I might have to ask them to REWIND. We're always asking each other to do that in our house. None of us ever listens properly!

So now we've located our function buttons, we have to guide ourselves and our little angels to navigate our way through the systems of real life. I reckon this is no different from walking a tightrope, 100ft in the air, blindfold and without a safety net. Given the choice I really wouldn't bother, but I used to think I had no choice. I'm hoping that now, we can find something between us that works for you and your children. It's not a quick-fix mend, you know, the one that we're all hoping for, but nevertheless it's a choice, and that's something that we've never had before, have we?