Friday, January 6, 2012

Pressure Building

Peer pressure is like a nasty virus that you just can’t get rid of. Chip, Corey, Jessica and Ashley are free thinkers and have never really had any major problems with peer pressure. But Ronnie is a different story. He seems to let it drive his every choice and decision.

On the first day back to school after the holidays, I mentioned to him that his backpack was a mess, stuffed full of old papers and ‘junk’. He said that everyone else’s was like that also.

During the holidays, he asked for a set of headphones for his iPhone. I looked at him as if he had lost his mind, and he just said that his friend at school had them. I gently reminded him that he was Deaf. He said his friend didn’t hear well either. I gently reminded him again that he was DEAF! He didn’t seem to care – all that mattered was that he looked like his classmates who have headphones attached to them at all times.

Those are two minor examples, but I am currently dealing with something more disturbing. Apparently one of Ronnie’s ‘friends’ told him that he shouldn’t eat too much or otherwise he would get fat. Since that comments, getting Ronnie to eat anything has been challenging.

Ronnie is a skinny kid, and he is very active. In addition, his disabilities require that he eat a healthy and very specific diet. He has always been a junk food junkie but I was slowly making inroads into healthier eating habits for him until….

I know, or at least think I know, that being a kid in a wheelchair, who can’t walk, who is Deaf, who must rely on medical interventions for even the most basic of bodily functions can’t be a fun state of affairs. I try really hard to be sensitive to that, and as with all my children, make sure that he takes part in activities that reinforce his abilities rather than his disabilities.

And the last thing I need is some other kid telling him to stop eating!

So what would you do? How would you convince him that not eating is not an option, and even more, how would you help him move past the whole peer pressure thing?


Maddy said...

Oh dear. It sounds as if the same old things persist whoever you are. Peers - you [I] can't choose their friends for them. I think it's largely a question of weathering the storm, offering something tempting, looking around for a positive role model perhaps. Maybe I should do some of these things too.

MMC said...

We run into somewhat the same thing with the Blue Jay. We've dealt with the don't eat too much, you will get fat and, much worse, an explicit conversation on FB chat describing what she should do to her boyfriend. Because that's what boyfriends and girlfrinds do.

I don't really have an answer for you (surprise, surprise) - every kid is so different and the Blue Jay is mentally challenged and ASD (but very high functioning). Basically with her, it's a matter of first finding out what she has been told (and the details around it) and then trying to talk her through to the other side. It takes time and it's not easy but usually it's at least somewhat doable. Not sure if that would work wiht Ronnie though.

Becky said...

Maybe you could teach Ronnie about recommmended calorie intake and nutritional needs? I remember in high school, we'd learn in health class how much calories we should be taking in due to our age and level of activity, and a number of girls were surprised by how much food they should be eating. Getting a sense of what your body needs to function and grow is helpful to combat the judgment and lack of education of others.