Monday, November 08, 2010

the magic of visuals.

One tool for communicating with Max that we always seem to return to is visuals. Sometimes those visuals are actual photos and other times they are drawings of an item. We used a visual schedule when we first started toilet training, and the teachers in his junior kindergarten class use one to help Max understand what activity is coming up next. Our resource consultant Liz also created a social story for Max when he started jk, with pictures of his new teachers, his classroom, and different areas of the school he would be spending time in. They always help.

Over the past month, Max has been off his sleep schedule. And by off, I mean, not going to bed at all, and when he does sleep, he sleeps on the couch. This makes Scott and me lose our minds. It’s challenging on many fronts.

The first is that when Max doesn’t go to sleep, Cameron doesn’t want to go to sleep either (everyone is up partying, I don’t blame her).

The second is that when neither of our kids go to sleep, Scott and I get no downtime, whether that be hanging out together or chilling out solo.

The third problem is, that we never really know when Max is going to fall asleep. Lately it has been around midnight, and even then he has been waking up in the middle of the night to party. Imagine our frustration with him when he doesn’t want to get up in the morning. Gah!

So, what to do? I met with Max’s Senior Therapist Ami and we came up with a plan. Namely that when Max goes to bed, we shut the whole house down so he realizes that EVERYONE is going to bed and there is nothing exciting going on that he might miss. We put a picture of him sleeping in his bed on the front of his bedroom door and a stop sign on the inside of his bedroom door.

The first night, at 9pm on the dot, (Max was already in his pjs and had his teeth brushed), I took him by the hand and led him up the stairs to his room. I told him “Max, time to sleep” and I pointed to the picture of him on his front door. He looked at me and tried to escape down the hall into our bedroom. I blocked him and redirected him back into his room. Tired of having him rule the roost, I thought to myself, what would Dr.Phil say? He would say “When did you let Max start calling the shots?”. Huh. I turned and looked at Max, and in a very firm voice I said “Max, get in your bed and go to sleep”.

And he did. Just like that. I told him to do it and he listened. I tucked him in, gave him his talking Diego doll and a kiss on his cheek and left the room, shutting the door behind me.

He went to sleep. He stayed in his room all night. He has been following this routine for the past 4 nights. Last night, with daylight savings time, he was in bed at 8pm. It was glorious.

Maybe all he needed was a picture of himself sleeping and to be told “hey, kid, get your ass in your bed and shut your nasty little eyes”. Or something like that. 


  1. 5 for 5 as of tonight.

  2. Anonymous9:38 p.m.

    and is this working for the rest of the house....the whole house shutting down? I am picturing a "goodnight JohnBoy, good night Scott," sort of thing.

  3. SeeDogThink11:15 p.m.

    awesome. Also, my new favourite phrase ever: SHUT YOUR NASTY LITTLE EYES. I'm going to look for ways to incorporate that into conversations.

  4. thats what it took for you to give him the mean-eye and say DO IT because I said so?
    You're too nice.

  5. @Stranded....yeah, I feel kind of like a chump.