Sunday, August 31, 2008

Golf counter addendum

We've just completed our grand tour of the Northeast mountains, and it's time for a golf counter update.

This is a wrist-worn mechanical score counter, specific to golf but quite generalizable, that a child can use to add (or subtract) points for good or bad behavior. The one we've been using looks like this.

I first read about golf counters in Clara Park's seminal autism memoir, The Siege, first published in 1967. Park's daughter Jessy became interested in using one as a teenager, after seeing another behavior-challenged boy clicking away at one. She loved the idea of clicking up points for good behavior, and rewinding points for those behaviors she was working on. And she was so into it, and so bound by the point system she'd write up and revise every Sunday with her parents--depending on which behaviors she had under control and which new ones had emerged--that, as Clara has told me, she'd willingly subtract hundreds of points for a major misbehavior even while bursting into tears about it.

Not my son!

Here's the rub. For the golf counter to work as well as it did for Jessy, honesty is key.

My son, who
1. breaks into people's email accounts by tricking them into telling him the answers to their security questions and then changing their passwords, and then
2. impersonates them while replying to their emails
is anything but honest.

So lately I've been wearing the golf counter on my own wrist, and letting him tell me how many points to add and subtract, so that he doesn't surreptitiously add tens of extra points when I'm not looking.

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