Curtain Rods No More

I’m so proud of my velcro curtains.

Specifically, I’m proud of the velcro I placed on our curtain and window tops to replace the rods.

Three windows are in our living room.   On two windows, where the curtain rod mounts would be, one mount is missing from each set.   Don’t remember how that happened.  The last window does have both curtain rod mounts.

We used to have blinds.   But the boys played with those until the blinds semi-permanently folded like bendy straws.  If you pulled the strings they always ended up crooked.  We got about 45 degrees of sunlight in the house from those windows and blinds.

The insides of our white window frames are notched from many curtain rods.  Deep light brown grooves stripped of white paint.  With persistence we placed curtain rods in the frames.   And with persistence the boys snatched them down.

Bang!

Then, they took off the rubber tips and chewed them.  Every time we put the curtain rods back up without those tips, a deeper groove formed.  So we bought more curtain rods.   I bought chew tubes for the boys, thinking maybe this would satisfy their need to chew.

But the clattering of  rods continued day and night.  Then we decided, we’ll just skip curtains.   Maybe it’s the banging of the rod noise they like.

I draped a blanket over the curtain rod mounts on one window.   However, since Anwar likes running with blankets on his head that didn’t work.  We’d find him giggling with the blanket over his head,  2 in the morning, street lights glowing through the windows.    I hooked fitted sheets over the curtain rod mounts(because maybe if the sheets weren’t as thick as a blanket Anwar would leave those alone), and it looked silly, but I was beyond the aesthetics of our windows.

Our curtains had been chewed at the bottom.  They had raggedy edges and tears at the top where the curtain rods had been yanked down.   We had heavier burgundy and beige curtains for the winter, and my mom had made us curtains from yellow and then orange fabric for summer.   We didn’t plan on buying anymore curtains; we needed a solution.

Sasha, Taj’s provider, told us of a woman who had the same challenges with her daughter.  This woman had affixed velcro to the top of her window and back of the curtain fabric.

I went to Walmart and got velcro that said it was for fabric, and needed to be washed for the velcro to adhere to the fabric.  I washed the fabric with velcro and put the adjoining side of  velcro on the wall.   But the velcro kept peeling off of the fabric and the velcro on the wall didn’t stay either.

Humph.

I decided to try  “Command” Strips.  Those are used for fabric hangings right?  No luck.

Grrr.

I do not enjoy DIY house projects at all.  So all of this trial and error for already raggedy curtains, for our badly chipped window frames, with duck taped screens on the outside(that’s a story for another day) was really annoying me.

I went to the office section again and got black velcro.  It wasn’t in a continuous roll, like the fabric velcro, but was in pieces like the “Command” Strips.  I put the curtains up against the frame and marked where the velcro would need to go, corresponding to the fabric. And…

It worked!

No more clanging rods, or worrying that someone’s trying to mouth an untipped rod, or grabbing the rod from a child trying to jump off of a table.  I was so relieved.

Now,the boys are content to leave the curtains up with the velcro.   And if they do take them down, the ripping of velcro is less jarring than the sound of banging rods.   We do have one window that we leave open.  No matter what we do Anwar takes it down.  In fact, the first night we didn’t have the rods, Anwar was confused and led me to the place in the closet where we usually kept the rods.  He wrote in his communication device,

“Curtains.”  He meant the curtain rods, but he’s gotten used to the velcro in their absence.  And for anyone suffering from the banging of curtain rods…

I highly recommend velcro.

 

 

Quilts at Bedtime

A year ago, I started a structured bedtime routine that finally worked.  I had tried many methods.   Savion spun endlessly, Anwar would start singing at 3 am in the morning and Taj would cry because he was trying to sleep.  Currently:

  1. all screens turned off an hour before bedtime at 8pm
  2. Pandora Relaxation music turned on
  3. bath time
  4. tooth brushing
  5. drawing or play-doh time at table
  6. reading books at beds
  7.  books to book shelf
  8. pillows come out
  9. after lying down, quilts
  10. stuffed animals are given out
  11. storytime
  12. good night song
  13. Lights out, sleep

We give baths every other day, depending on the days’ activities.   I’m not always home at night; so we have a notebook with velcro strips that laminated cards attach to, telling the boys what comes next.   When the boys exhibit negative behaviors, night time privileges, such as drawing or play-doh are taken away.

We make sure that if it is a sensory need(someone needs to bounce before going to sleep) we provide a support(a mini trampoline, for example) that they use before bed.

Last night was challenging.  I gave the warning at 7:30pm that we would go to bed soon.  I was reading with Anwar and Savion and Taj was with the provider, Sasha.  I had taken away Savion’s Ipad and he was upset that he couldn’t watch “Rio,” the movie we had rented when I ordered pizza.

“I WANT MY IPAD!!”  Savion yelled.

“Yell again, and you will lose your pen privileges,” I said.

“NOOO!”  he stomped and ran into the wall.

“No pen and paper tonight Savion, I am not yelling, use your inside voice please.”

“I CANNOT HAVE IT?  I LOST MY PRIVILEGES? NO IPAD FOR SAVION!”

“No books tonight Savion, go sit in the chair behind the red line( There is an area in our house where I have a red line.  A social story on the wall has a picture of a boy sitting calmly)take deep breaths and relax, imagine you’re a balloon.”  At school they do breathing exercises, they pretend they are balloons and inflate as their hands go up, and then deflate, releasing their arms down as they relax.

“NO IPAD, NO BOOKS, I HAVE NOTHING.”  Savion started hitting and kicking the wall while in the chair.

Meanwhile Anwar, dressed in his pajamas, was sitting patiently at the table.  The timer had gone off for Anwar to put down his pen and he got a book.  Taj was with his provider, Sasha, and Taj was upset about putting day clothes in the hamper after pajamas.

“Alright Savion, now you lose your animals.”

He started to pick at the wall and eat the drywall, then picking things off the floor(dust, sand,) and eat it.  Sasha told me this later, which she stopped.  As I was going through the bedtime routine, I knew Savion was seeking attention, so while he kicked, stomped and yelled I brought out the quilts and animals.

“Savion, please get up calmly and walk to the bathroom so you can brush your teeth.”  Savion protested and, as he walked by Taj’s bed he swung his arms at Taj, who was sleeping.

“Now you lose your quilt, and will have to use a plain blanket.”  This surprised Savion.  Savion has a beautiful peacock quilt that was made by my mom.  “After brushing your teeth you will have to go to your chair and sit during the bedtime story and song.”

This was the farthest I had ever gone, taking away the special nighttime quilt and replacing it with a plain blue one.  Also making him sit in the chair while I read the story and sang the bedtime song.

“Awww, whined Savion, I will have to sleep in the chair.”  And he crossed his legs in the chair placed his hands in his lap and started breathing normally.

“You may now go to your bed Savion.”  He walked to the bed and got under the covers.

“I know you don’t want to hear this right now, said Sasha, but you did a good job.”

I nodded.  At least everyone was lying down.  And thankfully, Anwar and Taj had not become too agitated by Savion’s behavior.    At one point, Anwar did start biting his hands, but before I could get to him he stopped biting.

“Goodnight, Sasha.”  And I closed the door.

I do hope tonight is better.

 

 

 

Scheduling Summer

School has started.  But before I start writing of our school adventures…I should update you about our summer.

Near the end of the school year 2016, I learned that Taj had been accepted into the Flint Hills Summer Fun Camp in Manhattan, KS.   A camp geared towards kids on the spectrum with peer models.  He would have academics in the morning at a Manhattan school and then field trips in the afternoon.  The camp was thorough, they requested school IEPs when considering placement.  In summer 2015 I had applied for the boys.  However their needs were considered too severe, and without having myself or a provider to supervise, we weren’t accepted.   But this year, with Taj having a provider through the Kansas Autism Waiver Program, Taj was accepted for June and July 2016.   Anwar and Savion weren’t.  I alternated between excitement for Taj and disappointment for Anwar and Savion.

I worried about Anwar and Savion seeing him get ready every morning while they stayed home.  Taj would be picked up at 7:30 am and returned at 5:30 pm.  For the month of June it would be okay, since Anwar and Savion would be going to summer school.  But July?  I would have to plan activities for them to go out also.

What I had not thought about, was how much easier it would be to take the boys out with only two.  Summer 2016 was the first time since Anwar was 3 years old, that I wasn’t basically housebound.  Those past summer days were long.  We were usually up by 5:00 am and I’d take them for a drive,  do floor time play, eat meals, exercise and play in the yard.    There wasn’t a park close by at that time, and even if there had been, I couldn’t trust them not to run into the street.  But this summer was different.  Everyday didn’t blend into the next.

This summer, Anwar, Savion and I walked to free lunch at the local elementary school from June-July.  In August, I  drove them to the 12th Street Center(recreation center) for the free hot lunch.  They also took a free art class and played in the gym at the 12th Street Center.   I would not have been able to do that all three boys.

I got to take them to the tennis courts, try the reduced rates kids movies and drive to Manhattan for the Discovery Center, Splash Park, Mall and then Library.  The entire time I gripped their hands, but we did it!

I know next summer will be even better.