corpus callosum

Routine

One of the weird brain things Vista has going on is called ‘Partial Agenesis Corpus Callosum’ (Partial ACC). It’s sometimes called ‘split-brain syndrome’. Your corpus callosum is what connects the right and left side of your brain and lets them talk to each other. Vista’s, however, isn’t properly formed. And so it is to blame for some of her issues with impulse control, recognizing emotions, and decision making.

The other day, a blog I read that shares stories of people living with ACC linked to an interesting video on split-brain.

There’s a part where the parents talk about having to learn that getting mad and yelling at their child is a waste of time and effort, which made me laugh. This is so true of Vista. You can get upset with her and she’ll just stand there with a blank look on her face, or say something random and walk away. That would be the point where I head for the liquor cabinet.

Watching the video, though, did give me some other insight on how to get Vista into some sort of routine.

As much as she hates leaving an activity, once she’s stuck into it, she’s not a strict routine type kid.  She’s much more like her father, in that regard.  They’re both free spirits.  And it drives me crazy.  Seriously.  I’m the person who lives and dies by my calendar.  I don’t do well with unstructured.

I’ve been struggling to find a happy medium with Vista.  Something that’s easy for her to grasp and makes sense to her little brain and allows us a tiny bit of structure to the days.  Also something that will help reduce the battles for simple everyday things like brushing teeth, getting dressed, and going to bed.

So, this is what I came up with.

A ‘chore chart’.  Right now it’s meant to help her with basic life skills.  As she gets older, it will evolve to include more ‘chore’ based items like making her bed, or helping with dishes.  But for right now, we’ll start with the simple stuff.  Heh.

chorechart Routine

It’s made with a piece of white poster board, stuck with magnets to the fridge. Each chore is a piece of paper glued to poster board then mounted on magnets, so we can switch or add chores and tasks easily.
Chore Routine

For the actual success/failure of whether the item was completed, I wanted something meaningful that a 3yr old could understand. Check marks are random. She’s just not going to get that. And stickers really don’t mean much to her either. So what I settled on was circles of yellow and red paper (I used a circle craft punch to quickly make them) and drew a happy face / sad face on them. We then use small magnets (which make up a nose on the faces) to stick them onto the board. I did it this way, rather than gluing each circle onto a magnet, because it’s easier to store flat pieces of paper when they’re not in use. (that’s a Canadian quarter to give you an idea of size)

happy sad Routine

The way we’re working this is if she goes the full day with 1 or less sad face, then she gets a treat from the treat basket (which is an old easter basket filled with random dollar store items).  And so far she seems to be grasping the concept very well.  She’s asking for almost everything she does, if that means she gets a happy face on her chart.  And the mere mention of a sad face was enough to stop a tantrum in it’s tracks this morning.

The whole thing cost me about $5 in dollar store supplies to make.  Cheap and easy, just like me.  Wait…what?

For those who want to make their own, here’s the chore items you can print out.  It’s done in a Word doc and the pictures are simple clipart.
PDF version:  Chorelist PDF
Word version:  Chorelist MS Word doc

*just a tip – I glued the whole chore list page to poster board and then cut it out.  Much easier than trying to paste little strips of paper onto poster board.

** And another tip – this is a kids chore chart.  Stop trying to make it perfect.  They’re not going to notice if the lines aren’t exactly even or the faces are a little bit off.

The Next WWE Diva

I’ve always held this theory about kids.  The cuter they are, the more evil they turn out to be.  So far my darling Vista isn’t turning out to be an exception to this rule.  Extra cute, with a side of exceedingly spoiled, add a dash of attitude, a splash of stubbornness, with a midline brain defect for good measure, and you have a recipe for disaster.

I’m currently sporting the latest look in forehead bumps after she headbutted me while I was taking her out of the bathtub. Yes, it was a calculated move on her part.  Yes, it hurt.  Yes, I’m a big pansy. What of it?

Bil and I have been struggling for a couple months with how to control these outbursts.  She will be cuddling with you and then suddenly hit you.  She bites when she gets frustrated (that one we nipped in the bud as soon as it cropped up, so now we’re only dealing with her biting things and not people).  If you try to stop her from hitting, or throwing things, it only amplifies the outbursts.

wwe The Next WWE DivaPart of this I know is just her being two years old (thank you terrible twos) and coming from two very stubborn, opinionated, independent parents (damn you genetics!).  The other part of this, we suspect, is coming from her malformed corpus callosum.  We suspect she may have face processing difficulties, which means when you make the ‘mad face’ she doesn’t recognize it as such and smiles and hits you again. At this rate we’ll have the next WWE Diva on our hands in no time (really, is two years old too early to train wrestling moves?)

We’ve tried various methods of dealing with this.  Time outs, restraining, teaching alternatives (“don’t hit, pat nice” which has been semi effective)… you name it.  Nothing seems to be really, truly working.  We’re getting frustrated, she’s getting frustrated.  It’s not a good situation.

So, this is where we turn to the experts (ahh… that would be you, dear internet).

How do I say this?  HAAAAAAALLLLLPPP!  *ahem* Which translated means:  What the hell worked for your kids and what are we doing wrong?

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