This last two weeks, we have had to remove all choices as even the simple ones just seem too difficult for Mini. My mother-in-law asked me today if Mini had reacted to me removing his decisions, which got me thinking….I don’t think he’s even noticed that he’s not getting options anymore! Food is still an issue, and he’ll often want something other than what’s on his plate. And generally he’ll still say ‘I didn’t want that’, ‘But I wanted the other one’ or ‘Oh, I wanted something else’, but he’s not at any point said ‘But you didn’t let me decide’, or ‘I wanted to choose for myself’. He’s basically reacting exactly the same way, but without the initial stress. We still forget sometimes, although me and the NC are trying our best, it’s easy to forget.
I approached a family support worker/health adviser some time ago as Mini had problems making choices. He’d spend an unimaginable amount of time making his mind up over something – I think I mentioned before that sandwich fillings is one issue, whether he wanted to sit on the sofa or on the floor to watch Cbeebies, apple or orange squash, shower or bath, pants or boxers etc. Her advice was to limit his choices to two things. I’ll tell you the truth – we already did that, which is what I also told her. So her next piece of advice was to put a time limit on it, so we’d count to 3, and if Mini hadn’t made his mind up, then we’d choose on his behalf. Truth? Yep, we’d been doing that too! And although taking 15minutes to choose where to sit was infuriating, it was us imposing a time limit on it that actually escalated the issue – it gave him someone to blame if he didn’t like the choice….and of course, more often than not, because we’d taken control of the situation, he didn’t like it. Well you wouldn’t would you? But she was insistent that this process was the right thing to do, and we should stand firm with our imposed choice for him so he’d learn he had to choose if he wanted something. She also stressed that he needed to have choices, because it was allowing him to be independent, and would ensure he wouldn’t get frustrated (yeah, right!)
The professional advised it so of course it must be the best thing to do right? So we’ve carried on dutifully and I suppose we’re 18months down the line, and there is no improvement. He can’t make a decision quickly, and so we do it for him and it’s always wrong. Is he being bloody-minded? Does he want to have control? Does he need to have control? Are we wrong? Should we allow him an infinite amount of time to make a simple choice? I don’t know the answers.
Thus our move to reduce the amount of choices he needs to make – they clearly stress Mini out. The resulting behaviour stresses me and the NC out. Are we doing the right thing? I don’t know, but it feels better all round like this!