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Saturday, May 5, 2007

Scratch and Sniff, Beer and Skittles.

"How much?" I asked aghast. "For two tubes of ointment?!!"

Boy's health has cost me a small fortune this week. High temperatures, nausea, aching muscles, splitting headaches, Asperger's obsessions and fatigue finally drove us to the pediatrician.

Not only did Boy have a regular child hood virus this week, he has also scratched the midgy bites on his legs and they are nicely infected. Our efforts at ensuring a balanced home education program for Boy have cost us greatly.

Boy went fishing with his mentor last Sunday and then the following day, Boy bush walked with his youth worker. Both highly prized activities and designed to ensure socialization outside of our family, Boy has gladly suffered the pain on his spotty legs. I, on the other hand, have not gladly suffered the pain on my purse.

A tendency toward obsessive compulsions, Boy continually scratched his legs whenever he was still. This was more than scratching an itch, he obsessively scratched until he had blood running down his legs. Once he began, he found it difficult to stop and I caught him scratching all manner of things, wooden table included. Desperate to intervene in the compulsion, I attempted to engage Boy in cognitive refocus on anything that did not look like schoolwork. Reading. What unusual books could I offer him that would refocus his mind and require the use of his hands?

Combining Boy's scratching obsession with a glossy women's magazine, I provided Boy with a two page scratch and sniff advertisement for Mother's Day. Cringing at the thought of holding a girl's magazine, Boy could not resist the temptation to scratch. He smelt the first perfume and interested, moved on the next. We had a hit. Boy fully engaged with scratching, sniffing, reading what the smell was and laughing at the RRP of the featured products (there goes my chance of new perfume for Mother's Day!).

Seizing the teachable moment, I suggested we play a scratch and smell game. Blind folded, I led Boy to a scratch and smell table spread with fruit, vegetable and saucers of condiments and liquids. He guessed some of the vegetables by touch but he had a great time scratching, sniffing AND munching on some of the others.

One of the saucers was filled with the Aussie standard: beer. Boy loved involving this forbidden fruit in a game and it has started a new obsession: Beer box kicking. Rescuing beer boxes from the recycling spot, Boy has been busy making towers, forts and people. Once erected, they get kicked down like skittles. A great game that has kept him interested, active and hand busy so that the dreaded leg scratching ritual is interrupted.

But...the head on the brew was Boy's reading of every word on the beer box! Who would have guessed that a scratch and smell beer sample would have led to obsession interruption and voluntary reading! Go, this home school freedom. No matter what it costs me, or what I have to use, the capital gain in Boy's learning is worth it.


L said...

You are amazing, Megan, the absolute master (mistress?) of the teachable moment. What a lucky kid Boy is!

Kaber said...

How do you scracth and sniff foods on the table?

I can relate so well. Connor is a face scratcher. he got over it around 5 or 6 yrs old, but he's back into his obsessive face scratching due to the chicken pox 2 months ago!

What a great day you had with him!

Megan Bayliss said...

Hey K and L
thanks for leaving comments.

L....once you grasp the teachable moment, it's really easy. I don't know that Boy would say he's so lucky. Sometimes he asks me to be quiet!

K...I put a heap of differrent foods on the table that could be scratched and sniffed - apple, zuchinni, chocolate, ginger, garlic, beetroot, onion, etc. The onion created the biggest complaint!!! The liquids in saucers couldn't be scratched, just sniffed. He loved it (especially eating the chocolate).

kailani said...

What a great story about turning a negative into a positive learning experience.

Thank you for sharing this with the Carnival of Family Life.

Elisheva Hannah Levin said...

I love it! What a way to rescue the moment for homeschooling your itchy boy!

Hope the ointment works! And I am glad you are both feeling better.

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