Monday, February 9, 2015

Fostering Independence: Waking Up to an Alarm Clock

I have found that timers have been a great way for Gess to transition from one activity to another without any complaint or stress. When we have a break from school (sometimes called recess) I set an alarm. When that time is up, she has to return to her work. Gess has been great about actually doing it. When the timer goes off, she stops and gets right back to work!

We also use it to keep track of the amount of time she uses media. If she is on the computer or playing a video game we set it for about 30 minutes and when the timer goes off, she immediately turns the game off. There are exceptions like when she is about to finish a race, lap, or other significant event in the game. I do let her finish that off, but usually she is just done.

Well, the last few years I have found that Gess has been more difficult to wake up. I am sure this is pretty typical of teens, but Gess has started ignoring me and hiding under the covers and doing whatever she can to stay in bed. She used to wake up early and super happy so I have not been a fan of the change. Then I had this brilliant idea. I would use an alarm clock to get her up. Maybe that timer would help it to click with her that she must get up, just like it works for everything else.

So far it isn't working, but I am not giving up. Gess' first problem was the light. We chose this alarm clock because it was cheap and allows her to hook up her MP3 player to it. What I didn't consider was that the large numbers and the brightness of the light would freak her out. The first night she kept just staring at it and eventually got up and turned it away from her. She repeated that a couple of times so we finally moved it to a place where she can't see it from her bed!


Her other problem is that that the thought of a "timer" waking her up seems to really freak her out right now. She kept refusing to go sleep and getting out of the bed talking about the "timer." We have explained that is an alarm and all adults use them. This has improved a little since she has actually had it wake her up and she realized that it wasn't horrible. Still, she gets back in bed after shutting it off so it isn't getting the point across like I hoped it would.

The other problem is she plays with buttons and changes the time. I think that will get better once she has learned how to control the MP3 player. It hasn't happened for a couple of days so we may be past that obstacle.

Over the weekend we didn't use it and this morning she woke up before the alarm went off so I don't know if where we stand right now. We shall see. I just found it amusing that introducing something as simple as an alarm clock would freak her out so much. Then again, my husband mentioned that he also dislikes the thing, he is just grown up enough not to show it!  Yes, I guess giving up the freedom to control your own time is a bigger step than I realized! I will keep you posted on whether or not we finally get it to work for her.


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