Inspired by the brilliant Bright Side of Life blog I decided to spend some time with Ellen trying to sort through some things in her room.
Ellen is very protective of everything in her room and organises her books and DVDs into piles which to the untrained eye just look like a mess. If I ever tidy it all away (to hoover – an occasional must) the minute Ellen gets home she takes everything back off the shelves and returns it to the piles.
Trying to tidy and sort Ellen’s room will be a major long term task for her and so I decided to start with very simple, easy steps.
I made two signs; ‘Keep’ and ‘Go’ and placed them on the floor. Rather than attempting to tackle anything too precious, I decided that we would sort through Ellen’s jumpers as there are several in the bottom of the drawer that have been there for years and are hardly worn nowadays.
I took all the jumpers and put them on the floor. I then explained to Ellen that we were sorting them and that anything she wanted to keep would go in the ‘Keep’ pile and anything she didn’t want anymore could ‘Go’.
First of all this was an exercise in resistance. Ellen didn’t want me in her room at all. ‘Get out’ she kept saying. But I stayed firm and repeated the fact that we were going to sort her jumpers and then I would go. The resistance did not last long, perhaps a minute at most, this is something that has improved greatly through RDI. I held up the first jumper. ‘Keep’ she said and I folded it on the keep pile. We went through the entire heap and Ellen said ‘keep’ to every single one!
When I suggested that she could perhaps pick one of the jumpers that could go, she quickly scooped up the pile and stuffed them back into her drawer.
I felt it was important for Ellen to choose something that could go from her room; to make sure that she had really understood the excerise so I decided that I would see if she could pick something; anything; and put it on the ‘go’ pile.
For a while Ellen went around the room picking objects up and getting them to tell me to ‘get out and leave her’. I remained firm. After a minute or so she finally tossed a black bra on the ‘go’ pile.
‘OK’ I said, ‘great’, but before I could pick it up she whipped it back and pushed it into her underwear drawer.
‘Oh, so you want to keep that after all’ I said, ‘try and find something else then. If it’s ‘go’ then it means I take it away’.
She cast around her room again finally choosing a home-made medal that she won at New Year and tossed it onto the ‘go’ pile with minimum grace. I quickly picked it up before she could change her mind.
I ended the activity there, pleased to have got Ellen to find something that could go from her room. I feel this is going to be a slow process but definitely a positive one!