My last blog I listed many types of behavior problems with Special Needs Individuals.
Here is the list for reference: 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.
In the last blog I covered Self Injurious/Self Harm behaviors. The strategy I mentioned in that blog can also be used with Aggression, Melt Downs/Tantrums, Physical Challenging Behaviors, and Destruction.
What do you do when they exhibit those behaviors? Absolutely nothing but keep them safe. As time goes on, find a place where they can learn to exhibit these emotions. In time, hopefully you will develop a way that your child will communicate in some way they need to be alone-or for the child themselves to learn that when they feel bad they can go to a safe place.
Create a dark space with pillows or soft toys. It can take sometimes hours for them to work through this period. Be patient with them and yourself. I know it’s hard but they have to get through what’s bothering them. Preventing them from doing this, talking with them or getting mad will not resolve anything at this point. Wait it out and then you can discuss with them what is wrong later.
TIP: If they won’t verbally tell you what is wrong, if your child can read and write- take out a piece of paper and pen. Write one question at a time, having them write back their response.
TIP: If your child does not read or write-get a series of emotion cards and probable response cards. Emotion cards of Happy, Sad, Mad, Excited, Scared, Tired, Bored and so forth. Responses (choices) can be: Need a quiet space, Need a break, Hungry, Thirsty, Want to Go Home or other things you think your child would need. I’ve learned that being hungry or thirsty triggers many behavior problems that can easily be solved.
TIP: If any of the ideas I mentioned do not work, here are some other ideas to try:
1. Avoid any triggers such as crowded or loud rooms.
2. Try distracting your child with their favorite toy, make or draw a silly face, or sing their favorite song. If they are in a nonviolent state, this would be a good time to comfort and hold them to let them know you care.
3. Make your child feel safe by turning the TV off and provide a safe place like I mentioned above.
4. Safety proof your home. Make sure any valuables or sharp objects are out of reach. Remove any toys that your child can harm himself or herself with. (We put plexiglass on Landon’s bedroom window because he liked to run and push on it. We also used baby gates, latches, and secured our house with dead bolts high up, so he could not run out. We would joke to others and say it feels like we live at Fort Knox.)
5. Purchase a weighted blanket, vest, and or ankle weights. These products provide a calming effect that your child desires.
6. Headphones-Headphones are a great way to reduce noise. Most individuals do wonderful with having headphones to wear. There is always exception to this method-Landon use to use his headphones to hit others or used them to destroy things.
7. Put together a therapy bag that includes a favorite toy, book, game, heating pad, massager, fidget toys or aromatherapy oils.
8. Speak in a soft, calm voice and approach your child slowly.
9. Watch what your child eats-There are many diets on the internet to explore such as a gluten-free and diets that are low in carbs and sugars. I’ve never tried these diets to see if they actually work but I have met many parents that say their child’s behavior has improved by avoiding certain foods.
10. Explain to your child what’s going to take place. When Landon is obsessing and having a rough time with transitions or schedule changes, I will sit down with him. Landon’s hot button is math, so I use numbers quite a bit. I will write: 1. You will eat dinner 2. Get your hair cut 3. Take your shower 4. Have cookies and milk 5. Go to bed
When he starts obsessing over what his day will be like, he has the sheet I wrote and he can read it as much as he likes. It lessons the amount of questions he asks me too so it’s a win win for both of us.