Monday, September 20, 2010

christmas colors

There's a popular system for regulating elementary school behavior. Good behaviors merit a designation of green. With lots of green days, a kid can earn a prize. A few bad incidents might merit a yellow or a blue. The yellow means you had an outburst, but managed to pull it together. Blue means you couldn't pull it together right away, but could eventually. Like soccer, red means you exhibited really bad, and basically unrepentant behavior. At school, Martin always gets either green or red. There is no middle ground.

It's the same at home. The past two weeks have been either heaven or hell. At times, Martin has been inquisitive, warm, and hilarious. He's learned all the first ladies. He's learning the vice presidents. He plays in a tent we set up in the backyard. Today, he invited a friend to go to the playground with him and, without prompting, thanked the friend when we dropped him off afterward. There are moments when you look at him and forget that he has an autism diagnosis. There seems to be nothing in between him and the rest of the world.

But then it comes back. Usually we have no idea why. But something will set Martin off. And then there is scratching and hitting, yelling and kicking. He's so frustrated about something, but he can't say exactly what. And even when he can express his desire, he can't handle it if the request is denied. For instance, he demands that I carry him. I simply cannot do it anymore. He's just too big. When I tell him I can't, you'd think I just denied him candy for the rest of his life, or oxygen. The response is so instant and so dramatic. And I can't do anything. I certainly can't give him what he wants. And I can't seem to find a way to convince him that life might be OK if I don't carry him.

So even though it's only September, life is red and green for us.


  1. Wonder how I would stack up if all my not green days were red? Wonder if its as frustrating to Martin as I think it would be for me? Strength to each of you. MBS

  2. Based on my 12 year old son's behavior, as Martin gets older more of his days will become green, yellow or blue. He hasn't had a red day in a long time. Best wishes.

  3. Jen,
    I am wondering how things are going by now for you and for Martin since the last time you wrote. I miss reading your blog. Sending lots of wishes for many good green days.


  4. I have a little Martin in my life. they are so alike its stunning!. I so love reading your blog as it helps me so much with navigating the stepping stones that fill our ASD lives. My little guy is 4.5 yrs old (also with a baby sister) so I confess to stealing a LOT of your ideas (&common sense). Lets pray for Green days for all of us!! A :)

  5. Hi Jen, I don't know you or Martin but I visit your blog often because you write so beautifully about parenting. I hope you and Martin are both well. Sending you both warm thoughts and blessings....