Voting with his feet

Yesterday Joshua used his feet to communicate very effectively on several different occasions: It began at 7.30 when he used his feet to get out of bed and come downstairs to find breakfast and some attention, which was a positive and independent way of communicating what he wanted. It was successful too, within minutes of arriving downstairs, he had a bowl of steaming porridge in front of him. After eating, he tucked his feet up on the settee in his Den and dozed in front of the Show, as it was still too early for a  weekend wake-up.

Joshua next used his feet to plant himself on the bathroom floor, refusing to get into the shower as he voted for a bath instead. But as the plug was broken, he had no choice and we manhandled him into the shower cubicle, which is never as bad as he expects. But he emerged, clean but grumpy to have been overruled. Once dressed, Joshua was ready to go out and so he stood at the front door. kicking at it, expressing his readiness to leave. We obliged and were all soon in the car on our way to our nearest market town. However, shopping was not the outing that Joshua had in mind and he again made his feelings very clear, by stamping loudly on the footplate of his wheelchair. It was already floppy when we assembled the chair, so it seems as though he had perhaps been protesting this same way last week at school. I pushed him around this way through the market and passed some shops, asking him to stop and also crossing his leg across the other but he was soon stamping again.

He only stopped stamping when he was doing activities that he approved of : he stopped to eat fish and  chips and he enjoyed the drink that we had in a pub before we turned for home, so eating and drinking were acceptable, while shopping was intolerable. We took the dogs for a short walk before we came home and we asked Joshua to use his feet to walk,, rather than riding in his wheelchair. He strode out enthusiastically at first but soone began to flag, and he made as if to sit down on the muddy grass, again using his feet to protest. But I used distraction to encourage him to continue, by passing him a stick to throw for Ruby and Kevin. It worked and he forgot about sitting down and enjoyed the dog game. When our puppy barked bravely at oncoming dogs, Joshua made a loud belly-laugh, finding the noise to be hilarious and it enabled him to keep going for the rest of the walk.

When we got home, Joshua sat on the settee and held his feet out and undid the velcro straps on his boots, indicating that he was ready to take his big boots off again and to replace them with his slipper socks, and of course I obliged by helping him to get comfortable. Joshua’s feet were very expressive all day long, but he has to realise that some of his behaviour is wrong. He cannot just stamp to get his own way, but needs to learn that there is a more effective way. His boots are large.heavy and loud, but finding a better way to protest would make me proud. Perhaps next time we will start with food, so that then he will shop in a better mood.

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