Challenging Behavior Problems-This topic is not easy to understand or to correct. There is not one solution that will work for every individual since they are all unique.
With being new to this-I know this is scary and it is scary. I’m not going to sugar coat it in any way. It is hard to see your child going through different behaviors
What kind of behaviors are there? I will list as many as I can find-this does not mean that your child will have all of these behaviors. Your child may have very few or very different ones that I have not mentioned.
Behaviors that are possible are:
Self Injurious/Self Harm, Social Issues, Repetitive Motions and Obsessions, Aggression, Noise Sensitivity, Melt Downs/Tantrums, Sensory Issues, Sleeping Issues, Physical Challenging Behavior (biting, spitting, hitting, hair pulling), Pica (eating or mouthing non-edible items), Destruction and smearing.
Self Injurious/Self Harm behaviors-these can range from head banging to self abuse of scratching themselves and biting.
What’s causing them to do this behavior can range from the fact that they are unable to communicate, have a mental health issue such as depression or anxiety, this can also be part of a repetitive behavior or an obsession.
All I can recommend is be extremely careful when they are engaging in this behavior. Stopping them can make the situation worse. If you are extremely worried contact your medical professional or in worse case scenarios call 911.
There may not always be away to prevent this behavior. I was always instructed to try and remember (if I could) what happened before the behavior. If it happened away from home I would ask his teacher/worker the same. Yes, sometimes these situations come out of the blue. I will be shopping with him at Walmart and I’ll see him slightly bang his head on something. I’ll ask him why he did that for?” and I usually get an “I don’t know.” I’ll say, “Doesn’t that hurt?” He’ll chuckle and says, “No.”
Yes, there is treatment and prevention that you can do but they need to be discussed with a medical professional. Like I mentioned above there is not one clear solution to this problem and what may work for one won’t necessarily work for another. All I can share is my own experience and what measures I took to deal with Landon’s injurious behaviors.
When Landon turned 2 it’s like a switch was flipped. He stopped talking and started doing one behavior after the other. He was extremely over active. He was constantly climbing on and jumping off of tables, counters and dressers. Keeping him safe was a 24 hour job and I mean 24 hours because he stopped sleeping. I was sleep deprived for a month straight and was at my wits end. I tried driving him around the neighborhood until he fell asleep then as soon as I lifted him out of his car seat he woke up and we started all over again. God was looking after me, for we walked into the Walmart in Madisonville, KY. I saw a friend who also had a son on the spectrum. We were talking and got on the subject of sleeplessness. She recommended Melatonin. It did help but it didn’t solve the problem. He did fall asleep but never stayed asleep. Five years later, when we moved to Knightdale, NC, Les and I brought him to a wonderful Doctor. He really listened to us and understood Autism. About this time Landon started biting himself, Les and Kate. He never bit me-ever. This wonderful Doctor gave us different medications to try. The first was a Clonodine patch but it burnt him so we tried Clonodine pills-low and behold it made him sleep through the night. We finally solved the sleeping problem and found that Respirdol solved some of the aggression. Medication assisted but it didn’t solve the problem. Landon is now an adult and we still come across issues, but we learned through time on how to deal with them. I always say, “It doesn’t get easier, but it does get better.”
Since medication wasn’t the complete answer we addressed these issues during Landon’s Individualized Education Program Meetings (IEP). We requested a school psychologist and any other therapist that we were advised to have to develop a behavior plan. His behaviors at school were smearing (which I will discuss in a future blog), undressing, aggression to others, destruction of property, pulling fire alarms, noise sensitivity, sensory issues and running off.
We had to focus on the dangerous behaviors and list the most severe to less severe issues and develop plans on how we are going to reduce these behaviors. We also had to make sure we were very consistent at home. Please do not rely on school or other external assistance to solve your problems. You, as the parent, have to enforce what your child is being taught outside and inside of your home for a behavior plan to be effective.
Landon learned at an early age about consequences and rewards. For every negative behavior there was a consequence. For every positive behavior there was a reward. We never put up with any of his bad behaviors inside or outside of our home. We listed his favorite activities and if he was having a bad day-he was not allowed to enjoy one or more of his favorite activities. We also started the “3 strikes your out” idea based on the fact that he loves baseball.
How did we manage this? If we found out that Landon hit someone that day, when he got home after his snack (I, we) would discuss what we heard. We would ask him why and told him what the repercussions of his actions caused. Our discussion would be, “Landon I heard you hit Joey today.” “Why did you hit Joey?” “Did Joey do something to make you mad?” then we would try and ask as many questions about the situation keeping in mind to not get him frustrated. Then we would end it with “Unfortunately, since you hit Joey today, you will not be able to watch TV or play your video games.” “Tomorrow, if you have a good day, you can earn your TV time back.” “For today, you need to take a break.” If each day gets worse, then we remove more and more of his favorite activities. The most he was banned from favorite activities was a month. After that happened, the average span has been about a week.
Being consistent and in control during this time is extremely important. It is tough going through this because when you “ground” your child-you end up grounding yourself. I’ll explain.
With Landon not having his favorite activity to enjoy he would do other things to alleviate the boredom. This is when he starts getting creative. He will try to find the remote I hid or getting into things he doesn’t normally get into. If it’s a weekend, the day was very long due to the fact that I can’t get anything accomplished or be able to take a break.
The benefits though are that since he hates having his favorite activity (activities) taken away from him he is less likely to exhibit inappropriate behaviors.
Setting clear expectations through consequences and rewards is very effective-be patient it takes years for results.