What's the Point?

I've been given the gift of counseling. There is a program the Doodle is in through our Regional Center where they have allotted us 20 hours or 20 sessions with a therapist that specialize in issues with raising children with special needs. It has been a blessing. I've been taking Jimmy with me because I thought it would be good for him to have a professional non-bias person to talk to. She is very nice, warm and friendly. Her office is completely kid friendly. We've even brought the Doodle with us and she has some great things for him to play with while we get our counseling.

I love her.

We've been most recently talking about what it must be like to have a little brother with special needs. It's great because Jimmy is completely honest, sometimes brutally so and he lets his feelings out about how he feels like we pay way more attention to the Doodle than him. Which might be partly why he has become so mouthy and feels like he has to have the very last word. I know it must be hard to to be the Doodle's big brother.

And as hard as it is to be the Doodle's brother, I tell Jimmy to think about how hard it must be to be the Doodle...

But it is hard on Jimmy. Before we only had the autism to deal with and that was a challenge. Add epilepsy and things have become much more stressful with the health issues and seizures. It's a lot for anyone, including a 9 year old.

We do our best to make Jimmy feel special. We try to carve out special one on one time with him. I take him to movies, lunch and his favorite thing to do with me is go to the mall. Jim takes him riding almost every weekend and sometimes they spend the night in the motorhome and have a boys camping trip. And most recently, we've been going to the Lake in the boat with him. We have a skateboarding camp scheduled for him and special Jimmy only trips planed. We can only do so much; there's only so much time in the day and we both work full time and the harsh reality is we have a very sick little Doodle.

This nice therapist lady has also been helping us with devising a points system for Jimmy so that he can feel rewarded and acknowledged when he does something good...instead of only when he does something bad. The points system is a little incentive program to get him to stop talking back and do what we ask, the first time.

We all signed a contract and while it was not notorized, it's pretty damn official. Here is the points system which we have already found a serious flaw in after only working with it for less than two weeks:

Each day is divided in 3 segments:
8:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m.
12:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m.
5:00 p.m. to bedtime

Jimmy is able to earn 1 point for each segment of time if he doesn't talk back or screw it up somehow- that would give him a maximum amount of 21 points for the week.

Depending on how many points he has at the end of the week, he gets a reward. Here are the rewards, he can only chose one from each reward group:

15-17 points = a snack/meal type of item of his choice such as Togos, Subway, Burger King, Juice Shack, Candy Bar, etc.

18-20 points = $5.00 cash OR a play date OR rent a movie/video game

21 points = An outing of his choice: Ice Skating, The Movies, The Mall, Lunch in a nice restaurant, something that would take a couple of hours.

Sounds pretty good right. Can you spot the MAJOR FLAW in our system?

Here is where the points system becomes counterproductive and does not work for ME.

The nice therapist lady said that you can't take away earned points. Apparently that is a NO NO. However, once Jimmy has screwed up and gets a point taken away, there is NO MORE INCENTIVE TO BEHAVE FOR THE REMAINING TIME IN THE SEGMENT. So, if he talks back to me at 12:01 p.m., I can look forward to him acting up the rest of the time period until 5:00 p.m. when the reward's clock resets so that he can earn another point....Hmmmmmmmm. Jimmy plays us like a deck of cards and completely knows how to work the system in just a short period of time.

I'm all for positive reinforcement...when DUE. But, Jim and I are both in agreement that we should be able to take points away; otherwise what is the POINT.

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