split brain

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.

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