Monday, March 1, 2010

Co-regulation...My Piece

I had an entirely different post planned for tonight, but life invaded and made this post more relevant to working through some issues for myself, which I hope will also be helpful for others. Over the last year we have had the privilege of meeting some wonderful people who have helped us immensely in developing specific tools that support good behavior for our kids. There are many facets, but by far the most challenging to me is the idea of co-regulation. This essentially is keeping your cool so that your child can more easily maintain an appropriate level of arousal. I have improved (though not mastered) this when I am one on one with my daughter, but am more challenged in the evening (no surprise) when our whole family is together and the pressure of my to do list from the day is at its peak. Everyone is tired, but the children seem to get more frenetic in their activity, and whatever capacity or patience I've had earlier in the day is expended. The situation is not aided by the long business hours demanded by my husband's work, and the occasional difference in priorities that result. In sum, not much of this is in my control, but one thing I can do is identify my triggers and find appropriate strategies to keep my cool: the very essence of self-regulation. I feel quite strongly that I need a better grasp on my own system before I can hope to be more helpful to my daughter.

Here are some triggers I have identified so far:

Being interrupted mid-task. No one really likes to be interrupted, and when the children are awake I almost never move from beginning to end of even a short project without some sort of question, request, demand, intervention or mop-up duty.

Having to re-do it. It's bad enough that a mom's work is never done, and that whatever cleaning or straightening I do today I'll likely need to do it again tomorrow, but when it doesn't even last five minutes my buttons are definitely pushed.

Prolonged noise. I think I'm actually developing an allergy to the hood ventilation over our stove. The whining fan seems to evoke similar noises from the children and before long my frayed nerves just can't take it any more.

Misdirected Expectations. If I know in advance I'm on my own with the kids, even all day, my capacity to cope with whatever they dish out rises to the occasion. When I think I'm off the hook after dinner (or at least not flying solo) the last hour or so of the day becomes unbearable if I end up on mommy duty, even if I logically understand the reasons for the change in plans.

None of this is particularly pretty or comfortable to write here, but it seems to be the crux of the issue. In the next few weeks I'm going to be looking for my strategies to talk myself down from these ledges of dis-regulation. I would be more than happy to receive your input via comments below. Feel free to share your own triggers or if you have similar triggers what strategies you use to stay calm.

This post is participating in the Mom's 30-Minute Blog Challenge.


ParkerMama said...

I wanted to stop by and thank you for sharing your feelings on my post on Parker's blog. I enjoyed reading your perspective and thoughts!

Tammy and Parker
@ParkerMama on Twitter

Nina said...

such good insight. I have noted while I used to be so good at multi-tasking I am much worse with a toddler and I get so annoyed when I'm in the middle of something and he talks to me. I know some people can tune out their kids but I haven't mastered that skill yet. I know that my attitude is totally under my control. I can control if I get bugged or not so I am working hard on doing that. I think I'll be reading your post over and over to come up with my own list.

Shannon said...

What a great list!
I love to multi-task but there's a point in the day when I start to wind things up.. it varies everyday when this happens and to what degree I successfully complete what i wanted to do. Lately the laundry has sent me over the edge...
I too can't stand extended loud noise!

Blind Conformity said...

Music. My only aid in co-regulation. I can't stand being in the kitchen. I feel myself losing my control most often in the kitchen. I can't stand cooking, washing, kids running in circles screaming, fighting, dog whining, cats under foot. Sadly, ever since being a mom it is the place I live is in the kitchen – despite my perfectly reasonable feminist ideals.

I also have a hard time regulating myself when I see what a constant mess it is - like you said moms rarely finish the task at hand and normally it is undone within five minutes anyway! I feel like if I am not cleaning it, then I must be cooking in it, which will lead to cleaning it. The endless cycle of the evil kitchen.

However, now I put on my music – sometimes loud - and I sing the whole time I am in the kitchen. Sort of like when I used to shut the door to my room as a teenager and get lost in my own thoughts. It feels wonderfully selfish! Sometimes this helps tons. Other times not. But what I love is when this turns the kitchen into my space. I actually don't want to leave it and wouldn't mind an extra dish to wash if it means I can hide in there a little longer and sing along to my music. I have also moved music to the car – you can’t find me without an ipod - and some times if the kids noise levels and energy levels have maxed me out I switch it on in the living room. I try to find music that is PG, but I like. There is a lot out there. I think it also has a calming effect on the kids in fact they seem to see I have a certain love for music and appreciate it.

Kelly Miller said...

This is great. I've also noticed that my fuse is getting shorter, and it helps no one. I'll be identifying my triggers to see if I can't get some control back over myself. Many of mine are the same as yours (especially noise!).

Ronni Weir said...

How do I respond to the school disenrolling my son from special ed? The 3 year review was on Wednesday. I was considering holding him back a year and they dismissed him from the program. They say my next step is to appeal to the compliance supervisor. I just ordered the book From Emotions to Advocacy, from a link on your page. Can I stop them from disenrolling him without my consent? Should I send a letter, request a meeting, will they have me sign the document past the one I signed at the end? Thank you for your blog, Kerry

KDL said...

@Kerry - This is a situation I've never been in, and I am no legal expert. That disclaimer aside, I have a couple of questions for you...I'll try to contact you individually, but also respond here for others who might be in a similar situation. First - it depends on what you signed at the end of the meeting. IEP forms are complicated, and the only thing you HAVE to sign is the line that says you helped prepare the IEP. You do not have to sign that you APPROVE the IEP until you are ready to do so. We now make it a common practice, even with our "easy" IEP meetings, to not APPROVE until we've had a chance to review it and pass it by some advisors we've gathered over the years. The nearest thing we've had to your experience is a year ago our district tried to drop our daughter's OT program without a formal assessment and this is a no-no legally. We didn't know at that point not to approve, so we did. When we later realized therre had been no formal assessment we requested another IEP (you can ALWAYS DO THIS) respectfully pointed out the error and requested an assessment be performed (you can ask for assessments once a year and they have to do it). After they assess they have to come back with a report, new goals if appropriate, and a new IEP. If you just had a triennial review (we haven't had our yet, long story) chances are they have done assessments. Did they give you full written reports on those assessment? If you disagree with the assessment then you can request and indpendent evaluation through your district then they are required to pay for exteral assessment (again I think once a year? we've never done this). That would give you a neutral party's judgement of where your son is at...and the district has to consider the neutral party's input. If that doesn't work your next options are a due process hearing, mediation, or a compliance complaint, but the latter only works if there is a procedural error, and all of these options take more time. You are in for a bit of an uphill climb. There will be a lot of papers, a lot of meetings, and a lot of energy to go into getting the services you think your child needs, but you can do it. We got our daughter's OT reinstated for another year, but it required about 4 meetings to make it happen. If I can't link to you please e-mail me. Good luck!

Ronni Weir said...

KDL - Thank you for your help. I am wanting to say, post signing that I participated and do not approve of the recent meeting's findings. I also would like to request that they test for dyslexia through an independent evaluator. I don't know what the test is or the qualifications of someone who would administer it. I submitted paperwork on dyslexia to the IEP meeting over two years ago. When I asked for a specific diagnosis I was told at the time that I didn't need it. In other words they are not filling in the blanks and I expected them to. If I don't exactly ask for something that cannot be refused they will say my son does not need services. The data on the evaluations does not support their conclusions. One of the subtests was at 96% and another was at 39% and language pragmatics was so low it was 10 points below the minimum, it didn't even have a percentage.
When I write a follow up letter I don't know how much argument to put in it or just ask for another IEP meeting. I'm pretty sure I can't be unenrolled on a dime, there must be a time period where I can respond while still technically in the program and they still have to address my concerns. They have said the next step is to talk to the compliance officer but they have been little help in the past and misleading (half-truths) so I don't trust them.
Thank you very much for your response and listening.

KDL said...

@Kerry - I really hope you will e-mail me. I tried to link to you through your comment, but can't. Before you left the IEP meeting they should have had you at least sign that you helped prepare it. There's a separate line for approval. By _not_ signing that you approve it you imply that you do not approve it. You should check, but I think if you don't approve you should then be in a "stay put" situation where they have to continue to provide services at the level provided before this meeting until everyone agrees what should happen next. You have the most power by not signing approval on the IEP. In some ways they are correct that you don't need a diagnosis to receive services. In fact legally they do not have to diagnose your child, they just have to assess whether or not he needs services and if he does they must provide them. If you already signed approval there may be a way to withdraw it, but then I think all services stop anyway (check this). I suggest writing a follow up letter per examples given at the wright's law website (letter to a stranger). You want it to be concise, but professional and address your most important issues first. Part of that letter could be requesting another IEP, but they are supposed to schedule that within two weeks of your request, so make sure you can be ready within that time frame. Part of the letter could also be requesting an independent evaluation. Any developmental pediatrician should be able to test for dyslexia or recommend someone who can. I would also recommend either hiring an advocate or contacting an organization such as c.a.s.e (may just be in CA) or DREDF (national) as they can help you figure out the next steps. You can get to my e-mail via my profile page. Please e-mail me if you think I can be of further help.


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