Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Change is in the air...

The pokemon model of OCD is still working after 2 full days :) B has christened his OCD as "unruly Skitty" (to differentiate it from his Skitty plushie, I think). Yesterday when we were on the way home from school I mentioned casually that my Pichu hadn't given me any trouble that day, so how was his Skitty? B reported that, although occasionally overwhelming, it hadn't been too unmanageable, which was reflected in his consultant teacher's "awesome" description of his day. This morning on the way to school B was ticcing so loudly that I could hardly concentrate on driving, but when I told him his Skitty needed some training he got it back under control much more quickly than usual. Later today, when I arrived at school just at the end of music lesson, B was sitting in the circle with the other kids with his attention on the teacher. I was really pleased. By this time of day B is usually wandering around nervously waiting for me to come to get him or halfway to meltdown. Something has surely changed...

After music class was dismissed B's teacher, Mr. Joe, saw me & told me he wanted to talk to me. Joe is an awesome teacher & B has loved music with him ever since third grade, when the kids change from the primary-grade teacher (who is also excellent) to the "big kid" teacher. I had been concerned that B's inability to cope most afternoons would affect their good relationship, so I'd been hoping for a chance to talk with him, too, & was also curious as to why Joe wanted to talk to me. He hauled me into the privacy of the special ed. room, closed the door, & said "Does B have a savant-like ability for memorisation?" I was not expecting quite this question, but upon reflection I admitted that most people think he does. B's ability to quickly memorise his lines for the class plays is well-known (& respected) by his teachers, as well as his ability to ad-lib appropriate (& really funny) lines as he goes. Joe looked a bit exasperated- "Why didn't anybody tell me?!" I was not sure... probably because everybody takes it for granted... Or maybe because we've been so distracted by the tough time B's been having with the transition to 5th grade (I made sure I mentioned this to Joe). This is the first year that B's class is not only doing a class play but a musical play with Mr. Joe. They were working on the play today in class & I guess it started off badly for B because he couldn't find his script (it was in his desk, where it was supposed to be, of course). Joe had him look on with another kid, & saw B reading a bit, then, he said, B started doing his lines without looking at the script at all (B says he snuck a few peeks :) & then ad-libbed nicely when things got slow. Joe was amazed. He warned me that he was "gonna push him, now", which is fine by me (& by B, too, when I passed the message on to him). I couldn't help but grin. This year has been so tough so far for B that it was a lovely lift to have someone so excited by what B can do. I decided to go looking for B's script before we left, so Joe would know whether or not B needed another one (found it) & while I was in B's classroom B was getting his things at his locker, talking to Joe. I guess being at loose ends for those few minutes got the "unruly Skitty" going & when I got to the locker Joe had a concerned look on his face & told me quietly that B had hit his head on the locker... B was worried about having bruised his head, but I told him we could put ice on it at home. We thanked Joe for his input :) & I reflected to myself that it was probably a good thing that he be reminded of my kid's strengths as well as difficulties...

On the way home in the car B said that music class was the best part of the day (yay!). I asked him if he found Skitty getting particularly unruly when he's between things at school, & after thinking about it B agreed that was so. I told him that he might want to focus some training on how to keep Skitty comfortable during those times- maybe talk about it with his psychologist this Thursday when he sees him. We came up with another code phrase for "calm down"- "Neh nasai!" which is japanese for "go to sleep!" It's a pun, too, because Skitty is one of the few pokemon in the english translations that says their japanese name (pokemon don't usually talk, but they say their names over & over, rather expressively, as their language, sort of...). In japanese Skitty is "Eneko" & says "neh! neh!", hence the fun of telling Skitty "neh nasai!". It also mirrors InuYasha's "Osowari" command ("sit boy!") that Kagome uses to control him. B loves to sit like a dog on the floor like InuYasha until I say "Osowari!" & then he falls on his face :) Tying unruly Skitty to InuYasha is probably another natural for B, since he loves InuYasha so much, & it further removes some of the fear B has around having OCD. I am really looking forward to sharing our new ideas about OCD with B's psychologist... :)

6 Comments:

At 2:40 AM, Blogger Zilari said...

I think this "training" analogy is a great one...it definitely sounds like it could help B not be so afraid of what's in his own head.

Also, I am beginning to suspect more and more that I had OCD as a child, or at least spectrum characteristics that manifested in a very OCD-like manner. That seems to be fairly common. I used to have "thoughts" that kept me from going into certain buildings, for instance. And these sorts of things definitely started getting easier to manage when I started seeing them as "part" of my brain's operating mechanism rather than some alien thing!

Also, I'm wondering if B is interested in probability theory at all. Being able to assess the actual likelihood of events might be helpful for him, and plus, probability is a fascinating mathematical/scientific concept anyway.

 
At 5:29 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think this is a very good method. We use it too, but in a slightly different way and tailored to a 3 year old. Many times when you ask my son to stop running, he'll continue to run. But when you say "Simon says stop" he'll stop. Some how by depersonalizing the request, he feels as though it's ok. But when its personalized, he has the overwhelming desire to be the little maverick that he is. I think that using the pokemon procedure is somehow depersonalizing the OCD and it helps B to look at it as something that can be compartmentalized and looked at from an outside point of view.

 
At 8:29 AM, Blogger Lisa/Jedi said...

Thanks, folks. Yes, I think the inspiration for the training metaphor was to get the OCD "out" of his head enough to make it less scary, & to keep things friendly rather than B fighting himself... I love the "simon says...:. Anonymous :)

Zilari- one of B's first cognitive "tools" for dealing with the OCD was estimating the probability of the scary thought happening. When B describes the OCD to others he often says "it makes me feel like something that has a 99% chance of happening will really happen..." I'm looking forward to when he can understand the math better, so he'll get a deeper sense of how probability works. Hmmm... I see some coin-flipping in our future...

 
At 7:07 PM, Blogger Lisa/Jedi said...

Ooops, I meant that B says "something that has a O.99% chance of happening..." :)

 
At 3:31 PM, Anonymous Sharon said...

This is great Lisa. How wonderful to have one of B's talents recognised by his music teacher.
The training idea sounds like a winner.

With Duncan, I can often get him to co-operate better when I pretend to be the Fat Controller!

 
At 8:36 PM, Blogger Lisa/Jedi said...

**chortle** The Fat Controller! I love it!! (The Thomas song is now going through my head- it took us the longest time to understand the line with "Fat Controller" in it... it's so un-PC :)

 

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