Cause and Effect

December 8th, 2011 § 1 Comment

It’s been an interesting week. We’ve got T-minus seven school days left at the current school (although neither the school nor our son knows this yet), and I’m trying to keep things all “business as usual” until we share the news with the necessary parties.

The week is interesting because following our meeting last week with our family therapist and the entire teaching team, the faculty has begun implementing a “system” designed to help our son stay more regulated at school. It’s not exactly the system we discussed at the meeting – that one was strictly a positive reinforcement system that rewarded our son for staying calm and for cooperatively participating in the moment – but it’s a system nonetheless. In each class, our son has the opportunity to earn points for both staying calm throughout the entire period and for doing his classwork in an “appropriate” way. So every afternoon, I’ve been getting emailed reports from the various teachers telling me how many points he earned in their class that day. I see these emails pop into my inbox between 2:30 and 3:30, a window into my son’s day, complete with detailed descriptions of what he did that precluded him from earning the maximum.

The interesting thing is, he’s been doing pretty well. There have been minor blips, like the way he sometimes switches out the words to songs sung in class to something he finds much more entertaining or the way he loudly shares his POV on whether or not he deems an assignment to be interesting, but there have been no explosions, no outbursts, no visits to the dreaded “red zone” as we like to call it.

Stay with me here…I know this was the purpose of the points system being implemented in the first place, but my hunch is there’s something else going on. Sure, I think the system is helping in that it’s giving him more frequent reminders to stay regulated and all the teachers are finally using the same “language” in how they communicate these goals, but I think that what’s having the biggest impact is something less obvious. I’m convinced it’s all about my husband’s and my energy.

Before we made the decision to switch schools, my husband and I were in a state of constant anxiety – what would happen today? Would we get a phone call? Would he do something serious enough that we’d have to pick him up? Would he make enough improvements that they’d want him back at the school next year? Mix that kind of grasping energy with a child who is incredibly sensitive to other people’s energy, and you’ve got a recipe for disaster. Or disregulation, at the very least.

So now, our energy is more peaceful. It’s more hopeful (albeit mixed with a touch of “the school can go to hell”). And suddenly, things seem to be going smoother.

Coincidence? I don’t think so.

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