Saturday, June 4, 2016

Screaming Won't Get Food In Your Mouth - An Analogy Between Food, Choices And Privileges

   "If you have a plate of food and you are hungry, how do you get the food into your mouth? By screaming, hitting and throwing things?" Such was the conversation that went down at our house last evening. The past few days have been really noisy around here, Joseph has been in meltdown/rage mode pretty much nonstop and I don't know why. Well, I know what the triggers have been but it is unusual for him to stay mad at the world for days after he is triggered. I cannot figure out if he is "stuck" mentally, simply trying out mom...how far can I push her before I get consequences, or if something "changed" in his brain. Unfortunately we fear it was the latter. Dean said it appears as though Joseph has recently become more aware that he is different and doesn't know how to handle it, so his behavior went down the tubes. I went to my trusty FASD support group and asked their opinion and in a nut shell this is the answer I got, "Yes, he has probably reached a new level of awareness and the rages are a result of that and between the ages of 8&9 is when my child's tantrums increase in intensity and frequency." Not what I was hoping to hear.

   Anyway back to the conversation. The privileges our children receive are a direct result of their choices. Simply put, "Bad choices=no privileges, good choices=privileges." Of course, we also take into consideration how hard they are trying to make good choices because we all have days where we feel grumpy and get short tempered, so if we see they are having a tough day but are sincerely trying to make good choices we give them grace. After all, we all need grace from time to time.

   Joseph has been furious that he doesn't have any privileges. The truth is, he does have many privileges, but in his anger and frustration he feels like he doesn't have any. We have been trying to tell him for years that if he makes good choices, he will get privileges but thanks to FASD, he cannot make that connection. Last night Dean tried again, "If you scream and yell at the food on your plate, it will not jump into your mouth, you must do help it by spooning it into your mouth. The same with privileges, screaming, throwing things and beating up on mom will not earn them, you must do something to get them, you must make good choices, by doing things like obeying and not screaming at mom. Do you understand?" Joseph grinned sheepishly and nodded his head, indicating that he understood. As of today, one would think the conversation and Josephs understanding of it never happened.

 What do you do to help your child regulate? Here are some of the things we use:

Teasing/playing - sometimes I will play peek a boo or tickle him. Often this will make him laugh which derails the tantrum but this technique hasn't been working this week.

Swaddling - I wrap him in a blanket, which he finds calming because it meets his deep pressure sensory needs.

 Rocking - holding him and rocking (while hanging onto his flailing limbs and trying to protect my face from said limbs) sometimes calms him.

Snacks - a snack or drink of cold water is often helpful but he has been turning them down as well. Like a mom once said, "You can lead a horse to water but you cannot make them drink." 

Shower - for some reason his anger and frustration go down the drain with the water... usually. This was also a no go this week. I considered putting him in the shower with his clothing on since he wasn't cooperating but I was afraid that would upset him even more, plus I didn't want him running away from me only to slip, fall and hurt himself.

Jumping - jumping on the trampoline or doing jumping jacks often settles those raging cortisol levels...except he refused to jump!

Tapping - which I wrote about here is another technique we use, but if you are to upset to eat, you most certainly won't tap!

As usual despite all the raging he still makes us laugh, after one particularly rough evening he sighed as he went to bed and said, "Mom, I decided I like you and dad after all!" We love you too Joseph, but a little less noise would be nice!

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