In an attempt to further answer the age old question, "Is it sensory or is it behavior" I have devised a new behavior modification 'game'.
The game is very simple. You start with a Jar of Rocks, in your own color (black is Gabriel, yellowish/brown is Matt and the reddish/brown is Nick). For each time you break an existing rule, which have been predetermined by our family, written down and posted, you lose a rock from your jar. If you have any rocks left at the end of the period (5 day school week, and reset for weekends when they are home more), you earn a privilege: things like 'choose breakfast', 'choose family movie', 'choose a game to play', 'pick the playground', etc. Then we reset, and return all of the rocks to their jar.
Do I think this basic of all basic "star chart" type reward systems will work? Yes and no.
I believe it will be helpful for Matt, successful for Nick and a toss up for Gabriel.
I thought about doing many other options including the Wheel of Dreaded Consequences, which was quickly ruled out, star charts, point systems (which worked wonders for Nick'sreading success over the summer), and more, but thought the newness of this would be an added bonus--for the kids and for me.
Rocks were also a good choice for these reasons:
1. Sensory Friendly: Visual, tactile, heavy
2. It is easy to see how you are doing; no counting necessary
3. Reusable and Inexpensive (a one time cost of $4.50/jar to buy new at Michael's)
Now the obvious truth here is that no matter how well I use this system, it isn't going to answer the question "is it behavior or is it sensory" entirely.
But it is going to give me some clues as to what Gabriel has the ability to control (will he stop calling me a "dumbass" daily?) and what he can't.
The reality is that Gabe is easily motivated. I feel like I take advantage of that sometimes by giving too many 'threats': Stop or I'll...whatever. Not my favorite way of parenting and parenting a kid like mine is hard. I want to feel good at the end of the day that I did my best, and I am not feeling that way lately. I hope this Rock System eliminates the need for threats and constant reprimand. I can just say, "You lost a rock for that."
When we purchased our rocks and jars yesterday, as a group (all three kiddos and me) they enjoyed choosing which rocks were theirs and looking at all of the jars (never mind the panic attack I suffered having all three of them in an aisle dedicated to glass jars).
The challenge was that the rocks were sold by weight; not number of stones.
When we got home, and set up our little area on the counter, I started counting rocks into jars.
Nick has 10 rocks (one wouldn't fit)
Matt has 13 rocks
Gabe has 14 rocks
Nick didn't find this to be fair.
"Nick, how many times a day do you flip out?" I asked him.
"Ah, virtually none." He said with a smirk.
"What about Gabriel? How many times a day does he flip out?" I said.
"A LOT." He said.
"OK, then we see that Gabriel is going to need more chances than you are." I concluded.
"Yeah, I think so." Nick said.
And that was it -- the gods have spoken on how many chances each child gets. It is fair -- which is NOT to be confused with equal.
Example of Gabriel's Reasons to Lose a Rock:
1. Calling names
2. Hitting, biting, kicking
3. Throwing things
4. Breaking things
Example of Nick's Reasons to Lose a Rock:
1. Not following directions (ie "get your shoes on" or "clear your plate")
2. Ignoring me when I speak (this drives me crazy)
Example of Matt's Reasons to Lose a Rock:
2. Throwing things
3. Spilling things intentionally (books, toys, drinks, popcorn, etc.)
The boys all have something to work on. Come to think of it, maybe I should get myself a jar too...*sigh*
I am hoping that this will be motivating for all of them and give me the motivation to be more consistent. I have successfully motivated Nick this way for years (the previous mentioned reading chart--more points for higher level books earned him a backpack of his choice this summer, as well as a "stay in bed" chart that earned him $40 over 6 weeks, all have worked wonders) but Gabe's behavior isn't as easily modified. And Matt...well...let's just say it is time to take a more 'formal' approach to his behavior modification.
I will keep you posted, but until then, I am truly happy with the aesthetic value of the Rock Jars on my counter. Is that weird?