Sunday, October 4, 2009

The Streak: It Continues

The school year is six weeks old. After the first two and a half weeks, I posted about my "Charlie Brownish hope" concerning Robbie's progress. Nothing's changed. It's rare that 'nothing' is newsworthy but this time it is.

Last year when things were going poorly, Robbie changed classrooms. He'd had problems going to school and when he arrived he failed to do any work. To address some of his issues, his new teacher implemented a scorecard to track his work completed during the day. There were five categories. If he completed at least four, he earned a sticker. When he'd accumulated five stickers, he earned either free computer time, free choice time or no morning work. Joy and I also added the stipulation that if he failed to get four "smiley faces" (that indicated he'd completed the work), he couldn't use the computer when he got home.

For the most part, he earned at least four "smiley faces" but there were a few two and three "smiley face" days. He also earned all five on many occasions.

Joy and I decided to copy this approach at home with his morning preparation. His morning scorecard included five categories as well. The categories were: wake up , brush his teeth, get dressed, get in the car and get out of the car at school nicely. If he failed to get four "smiley faces" for his morning preparation, he wasn't allowed to use the computer when he got home from school. Like in school, he almost always earned at least four "smiley faces" for his morning preparation. Five was very common. However, there were still a few days when he'd lost computer time because he didn't wake up and go to school nicely.

These two scorecards were very effective tools. Towards the end of the year, if he failed to get four "smiley faces" he wouldn't even bother telling us when he got home. Instead, he just went straight to him room.

This year? Both scorecards have disappeared. They're obsolete. He goes to school nicely in the morning without hesitation. He does all of his work at school without a problem. He even does homework, which we assumed was going to be the monumental battle of second grade. If we were keeping score, he would have earned five "smiley faces" for both scorecards every single day of the school year.

It's as if a light switch was turned on. This wasn't a gradual change. It literally happened overnight. Roughly twelve hours before the bell sounded for the first day of school, Robbie had one of his biggest and longest tantrums we've seen in a while because he didn't want the teacher he'd been assigned. A call from one of his classmates saying how happy he was that Robbie was going to be in his class flipped the switch. Since then, school just hasn't been a problem. To say we're overjoyed would be a significant understatement.

In September, I posited that the changes could be attributed to Joy's efforts on teaching him the cause and effect of his behavior at school and summer school, a change of medicine, or the quality of his new teacher. It's like a combination of all three.

A few weeks ago, someone stated, "I think Robbie's outgrown this Asperger's (Autism) thing". As much as I want to believe that, I know it's not true. A few years ago, I might have let myself fall into that trap. Now, I realize I can't afford to. There are still plenty of signs to debunk that claim. Nonetheless, we appear to have crossed a very big chasm. What that means is we can now drill down and focus on other areas, especially the area of social skills, that will make or break Robbie's success as an adult in society.

I'm not going to lie, though. I think those chances have tripled over the last month. That might be a trap, too. But it's one I'm willing to walk into.


  1. I love reading good news posts! I'm sure you, Joy and Kelly and thrilled with the positive start to the school year. I hope it becomes old hat and you'll forget that morning ritual was ever anything but filled with smiley faces.

  2. Thanks, Cat. It's a big step. Many more to go.