Stop, Drop, and Flop

image1.jpgIt generally happens at the most inappropriate times, rain, snow, or shine. It means: ” I don’t want to”, “I don’t understand this”, or “I’m tired”.
It can be frustrating and/or annoying for all involved and I have often received phone calls from school regarding it- introducing the tried and true, “stop, drop, and flop”. I first heard this term from one of Brian’s physical therapists years ago when he attended a center-based early intervention program. A child will suddenly stop in their steps, drop to the  ground, and refuse to get up. This phenomenon is quite common amongst people with Down syndrome. I always associated this behavior with small children, but like many other adventures along the special needs journey, these episodes can last even into adulthood. 😦

Gross motor movement has always been a struggle for Brian. He was a late walker at 4 years old and didn’t let go of a hand until nearly 5 years old. Brian has worn a variety of orthotics since he was 2 yrs. old due to severe ankle pronation in both feet. Brian is also flat-footed and low-toned. These ingredients are a recipe for struggle and fatigue, which can also cause behaviors, I am sure. Add in transition troubles because of an unfamiliar situation or just a plain old tween, “I don’t wanna”, makes it very challenging to motivate a 105 lb. boy to get up and get going. Over the years, all kinds of tactics have been tried to motivate Brian to move, some of them have included: food, music, tokens to earn rewards, verbal praise, and more music. Each of these motivators have been vital, successful at different times, and necessary. Redirection/distraction have also worked. Sometimes Brian gets further than other times. Sometimes nothing works initially and we have to really wait Brian out- 1 Mississippi, 2.Mississippi, etc.
It’s especially during these particular times that I need a LOT of extra patience and a  glass of wine later on, just sayin’! 🙂

In Brian’s defense, there has been , albeit gradual, improvement with fewer instances of dropping to the ground, especially over this past year. At that time, Brian had started a new school and daily transitions were tough for quite a while, with a LOT of stop, drop, and flop episodes. It was discouraging and I began to wonder at a certain point how Brian was going to ever move forward, literally. Then slowly, gradually, eventually, there was less dropping and more walking, step by step, inch by inch…

And then it happened!! A culmination of 14 months of patience, persistence, and praise with rewards paid off! I received a note from Brian’s physical therapist yesterday that stated Brian walked around the school building with his classmates TWICE without dropping once !
Hooray! Happy Dance!  I believe that the ” highs are higher and the lows are lower” when experiencing these life events with our children. We greatly appreciate every little thing that they have worked so hard for (and what most of us take for granted). Conversely, adversities that our children go through  have the potential sometimes to really bring us down, as the struggles can be intense and prolonged. I try to remember Brian’s successes  during these tough times and to have very flexible expectations, but its not always easy.

Longterm success for Brian is generally  correlated  with a structured routine, a good nights sleep,  LOTS of time, and LOTS of rewards!  I have to constantly  remind myself of these things  if I forget or focus on what is NOT happening in the moment. It’s a mental exercise that I must practice daily, lest I become negative and lose perspective. This can happen all too easy if I allow it.

In the meantime, I will savor this victorious moment and look forward to the next one, for it will surely come, step by step, and in Brian’s own time, not mine. 🙂

Until next time….thanks for reading!

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