Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Lights ON

2:47p - For the past few days Nikko has gotten into the habit of stepping up on his booster chair at the dinner table and flicking the light switch above his head OFF. This turns off the (ghastly fluorescent but necessary) overhead light and the room is half dark. Ronin doesn't like it and it gets me dizzy, but when I told him to turn LIGHTS ON, Nikko wouldn't do it. I'd turn them on and then physically sit him back down, laughing with him as if it were a joke because he'd wriggle out of my hands and flick it back on again. It's been a constant power struggle. When Ronin objects, I tell him that Nikko just won't stop turning it off and I can't seem to do anything about it. I felt powerless.

Then a thought occurred to me. What would an ABA therapist do? Well, I reasoned, the therapist would probably say to give a positive reinforcer to Nikko each time he turned the light on instead of off. That sounds good, but I didn't want to reward Nikko with a fruit snack or candy every time he turned the light ON. He would soon just want the food all the time. What if the reinforcer wasn't food, but was praise instead? Not tangible, but still a reward for positive behavior. So I walked over to the light switch and turned it on. Nikko scrambled up and turned it off. I said, "Awww, noooo Nikko." Then he flipped it on. Immediately I said, "YEA NIKKO! WOW! YOU TURNED THE LIGHT ON! WHAT A GOOD JOB! YEA!" I heard Ronin nearby also praise Nikko, "Yea!" Nikko looked at me like I was going nuts. Curious, he flipped the switch off and I said, "Awwww, nooooo Nikko, Light ON." He flipped it on and again I heaped on the praise, followed by a big hug and an offer of grapes. He seemed to get it, that lights ON was followed by praise and hugs, and maybe even grapes. So guess what? The lights are ON, right now. Yea!

1:15am- The rest of the day was ok for Nikko. He almost fell asleep this afternoon but I had to wake him up to change his diaper because he was full, and sure to leak. He didn't go back to sleep, and my plans to take the kids outside were ruined by nap timing. Tomorrow is supposed to be the last 50 degree weather day so I'll try my hardest to take the kids out after lunch. We could play outside, but I might sneak in an errand if need be. Nikko seemed very specific in what he wanted to watch on TV today. After breakfast we spent time watching The Wiggles DVDs and On Demand. I turned the TV off during lunch, and then after lunch Nikko came up to me and pulled me to the TV. When asked what he wanted to watch he circled his hands in front of him and I thought it was to the song The Wheels on the Bus. But after looking at his sign, I said, "Oh, you want to watch Signing Time?" Bingo. He was satisfied with what I said and retreated to the couch to wait for me to put in the DVD. Much later in the day he signed Fish, which is for Nemo. Before dinner I put up Christmas lights, stringing them around the perimeter of the ceiling. In the past, I've lined the windows with the lights, but last year the boys were playing in the window often and tugging at the lights. With Ronin's recent destructive behavior I really don't want to deal with tape and lights dangling from the window sill, so I put the lights high up near the ceiling. I could have put them outside, but then we wouldn't be able to see them. By putting them in the living room, the kids can enjoy the lights and maybe not have to turn on the regular incandescent lights, which are very expensive and will probably blow up soon since they burn for a long time when Nikko is at the light switch. It looks pretty cool. I may do the kitchen windows and/or the "dining room" area, too, just to be festive. There's no room in the living room for a real tree, so I hope to put a little fiber optic tree up. I might put it in the corner of the sofa, since there technically is a space, but need to put some kind of table support there.

Nikko goes back to preschool tomorrow. I'll bet that will make him happy! I should really go to bed soon since I have to wake up by 7a to make sure Nikko gets up.

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