Making Intentional Plans

Sep 21, 2017

Steph Duff

“In ten minutes, you need to take a water break, Carlitos!” Ethan Drent, Back2Back Mazatlán staff calls outside to the young boy mowing the lawn under a caregiver’s supervision. Carlitos shakes his head yes and continues to mow. “Carlitos, take some drinks of water in five minutes!” Ethan reminds him again. After the time has passed, Ethan walks a cup of water out to Carlitos. He shuts the mower off and takes big gulps. Once he hands the cup back to Ethan and wipes his mouth off, he restarts the mower and again takes off.

Consistent schedules and anticipated routines are two ways staff at Rancho de los Ninos Children’s Home are helping each child succeed. A year ago, Carlitos’ moods could be unpredictable; a change in task easily upset Carlitos’ attitude, leading to tantrums and an inability to communicate his needs. Staff members discussed how they might better serve Carlitos and set him up for ease in moving from one responsibility to another. An interdisciplinary staff team was formed for the Mazatlán site, and now each children’s home is in process of having their own teams.

The interdisciplinary team at Rancho consists of six professionals – Eleazer, the spiritual director; Sarahi, a nurse; Citlali, a physical therapist; Karina, the special education teacher; Giselle, a psychologist, and Valeria, a social worker. All six work directly for the home, intentionally developing plans and programming to benefit each child living at Rancho de los Ninos.

Dr. Dan Shuman, Back2Back staff and a part of the site interdisciplinary team, talked with Sarahi and Ethan about Carlitos’ medication when they noticed the drastic difference between his medicine wearing off end receiving his next dose.

“He quickly goes from being lucid and alert, to quiet and withdrawn, between doses of medications,” explained Ethan. As Dan and Sarahi worked through regulating his medications, Valeria, the social worker for the home, created a more consistent schedule for Carlitos and the other children.

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“Setting up a schedule Carliots can anticipate, has allowed drastic changes in his behavior. There are far fewer outbursts when he is asked to move on to something new,” explained Ethan.

Staff works diligently to give warning times to the children, ten minutes before, seven minutes before, three minutes before, allowing the children to complete one task or “job” and before moving onto the next one.

“Carlitos loves to work, and mowing is one of his favorite activities to do at the home,” shared Ethan. “Before, he wouldn’t take water breaks, he would just keep working because he didn’t think he could return to the activity, if he walked away from it.” Now, Carlitos appreciates the time warnings, knowing water breaks are necessary, and different and fun activities await him once he completes his current task.

The Back2Back Disciplinary Team is possible because of the faithful and generous partnership of Back2Back Child Sponsors. As each team member works alongside Back2Back staff, positive changes become a regular occurrence for each child.

Steph Duff is a writer, daughter, sister, and really loud laugher. By day she lends her voice on behalf of orphaned and vulnerable children with Back2Back Ministries. By night she is readily found with her nose in a book and spending time with her dachshund, Addy. At all hours, she can be found consuming copious amounts of coffee. She feels most herself in the heat of India and prefers her mugs big, her books long, and her words intentional.

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