Saturday, February 23, 2013

Corners, Charts, & Cava

As I've written in my blog before, the boarding school Cava came from was very regimented and he, like all the other kids there, knew their daily routine well. Since he's arrived in the United States and has been here for a month now, we are implementing ways of helping him adjust by limit setting, time setting, and a rewards chart. The rewards chart is for his behavior and we are modeling it after the one his teachers use at school so that he will have consistency. We have also talked to his therapist about what we should have as our expectations. Originally, we were going to have things on there like getting ready for school, eating his dinner, as well as his behavior. After talking with his therapist, she told us this would be too overwhelming for Cava and for us to focus on dealing with the behavioral issues first (kicking, biting, hitting, scratching, and spitting).

We are breaking the chart into periods:
- Morning
- School
- Afternoon
- Evening

For each period that he behaves well, he will get a sticker. If he doesn't, then there is an immediate consequence for his actions.

With each sticker, he can then earn tokens and use those tokens to buy prizes (such as Dollar Store prizes like puzzles).

Something else we tried and found success with late last week was a time-out corner. I picked a boring corner that had nothing to look at or anything he could pull down. After kicking Danelle, I put Cava in the corner and then stood behind him so he couldn't flee. Like a caged animal, he began to thrash about, tried to scratch me, and he spit on the wall. I told him that he would be in this corner until he calmed down and told Mama and Papa he was sorry. Sorry is a word he understands but he refused and fought to get away, but he couldn't because I was simply standing there behind him. It took around 20-25 minutes for him to finally calm down. Once he had, he told us, "Sorry, Papa. Sorry, Mama." And he was. His behavior completely changed not only that night, but we haven't had any incidents yet of kicking, hitting, biting, or scratching.

All of this is an attempt to bring stability to our family and to provide Cava an environment that he feels safe and secure in. After we tackle the behavioral issues, then we will start adding things on to the chart like getting ready for school, doing homework, eating dinner and eating at the table (Cava likes to get up from the table, do other things, and wander in and out of the kitchen so that he can take bites of his food at intervals).

Another incentive for Cava is that we have had it explained to him that if he can be gentle with our dog Chloe that we will get a dog for him. Thanks to those who've offered their pet suggestions, but, the fact of the matter is, the only thing Cava wants is a dog. He has already offered me possible names for his dog: monkey, gorilla, and Chloe. I suggested to him that if the dog is a girl, we name her "Masha" and if the dog is a boy, we name him "Mishka." Cava was thrilled at that idea. And he has been learning that if he is gentle with Chloe, she will come to him when he calls. He giggles and loves it when she licks him. Cava even tells her, "Spaseeba, Chloe. Spaseeba." (Thank you, Chloe. Thank you).

This will continue to take a great deal of prayer and patience on our parts, but we know that, in the long run, it will be worth it.

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