Wednesday, July 3, 2013

New behavior training

Since March of this year I hired a guy with experience in working with special needs kids at our school district. Joe was hired to work directly with Puppy on his behaviors.  It even started with a really big bang, too.  On day one, Puppy felt the male presence in his space and acted on it. He had a meltdown that first day.  And I was told to expect it and told it may happen a few times before he gets comfortable with having him in his home. But since Joe was able to handle the situation well and without hurting him, Puppy came around quickly.

As time went by, I saw a dramatic change in Puppy. He seemed happier and was more responsive to instructions.  He seemed to start letting himself take in the world around him in a different way, with eyes wide open.

On our second month, the lessons took a turn. I became the student. I was taught how to speak to Puppy. I learned to use a firm voice, minimum words, give clear instructions, and show no fear.  And it worked. Puppy must have noticed I was mimicking Joe and understood to follow through as if Joe were talking to him.

However, even though Puppy was having continuous days of good behavior without tantrums, his obsessions never took a back seat. They were very present and we did what seemed to be the next necessary step, we removed all wallets from his possession. He was given until the end of the regular school year (which was about a month) to keep good behaviors and be compliant with his chores and schoolwork in order to get a wallet. This would be a new wallet because all the others were taken away and given to the homeless shelter.  

Yet, being without a wallet took a toll on him. He turned to his obsession of cigarettes. He was always searching the sidewalks and trashcans for the empty boxes, or sometimes he got lucky and there was one or two in a box. He even took to stealing them from the neighbors. Yes, lucky us…we have smokers all around us. I was constantly checking his pockets and drawers. He never took a break and my need to keep steady watch on him was tiring.

The end of the school year finally arrived and he was hyped. We talked about following rules for the last couple of weeks leading up to the day. He could repeat all those rules and convincingly promise to do no wrong. I waited until the Saturday after to take him to Kohl’s so he could pick this one and only wallet that will remain in his possession for the rest of his years until it is too old and ugly to use. He picked the perfect wallet and we had a new kid. He seemed complete and happy. I felt so good being able to fill that void he had. And that was when our lives went back to how they were before, but with better behaviors.