As the only two adults in the world who provide care for Calvin, his step-mother Kristy and I must be in constant hall monitor mode. With Calvin, you don’t always know what behavior is new, what behavior is a one-off or what behavior is just beginning. We don’t have the luxury of asking Calvin to take a break from certain behaviors–he’s going to do what he’s going to do. And so every morning, we look at the data and the video from the night before and ask these questions . . .
Question #1: In the past 24 hours, did Calvin do something we don’t want him to do?
If there is a behavior we need to curb or prevent, we need to act take action quickly. Especially if it’s the first time, we need to start discussing how to prevent this from happening a second time. It’s crucial that we starve a negative behavior right away before it gets a chance to establish itself.
If there is an existing behavior that is re-starting (he’s getting out of bed for hours), then we need to step back and reassess what we need to change.
Question #2: In the past 24 hours, did Calvin try to outsmart any of our safeguards?
When he was younger, Calvin was much more devious, but as he’s gotten older, I believe he’s settling into his own. However, as a human being, he’s an explorer. It only takes one time for something to happen irrevocably. If he starts pushing at the walls looking for weak spots, we need to run ahead of that.
Question #3: How did Calvin sleep last night?
This is the number one indicator, really for any of us. But specifically for Calvin, since he can’t communicate pain or stress. If he didn’t sleep well, this is a huge red flag that something is wrong and may need to be addressed. He’s allowed to have a random night of insomnia here or there like any of us, but more than one in a row should sound an alarm.
Question #4: In the past 24 hours, did anything unpredictable happen?
By nature, autism is typically based upon obsessiveness and repeated behaviors. And so unpredictability is a huge monkey wrench. While a behavior or action may not be specifically defined as “bad,” changes in predictable patterns may indicate mental changes, emotional changes, biological changes, stress–pick one reason of a thousand. Playing in the water for a few minutes longer than normal, opening the refrigerator every time before going to the bathroom . . . for normal adults, you wouldn’t think twice. For Calvin, our Spidey-senses are on full alert.
I’m very thankful to be living in an era when we have the technology to be able to capture this data and where we can easily review his activity with both sensors and video. I’m really excited to be able to help others enjoy these same benefits. Please reach out to me if you are looking for advice or assistance with care technology.