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Have you ever seen this "pushing" behavior in a neurotypical toddler? Pic in Post 4

post #1 of 21
Thread Starter 

DD is 20 months.


She is CONSTANTLY doing whiat I can only describe as pushing.  It's basically exactly like this mama describes in this thread, but DD is not verbal enough to explain why she does it.  She braces herself against something like the couch, her booster seat, the coffee table, the floor (if nothing else is available), crosses her legs, and flexes her entire body. She strains so hard she flushes and sweats.  I mean dripping sweat.  She does it about 60% of the time that she's awake.  She does it at dinner, before bed, in the bath, a story time in front of other kids, when she's sitting on my lap, when she's going to sleep.  She takes a break from playing to push against the floor: Hands on the floor behind her, arms stiff, neck clenched in, legs crossed out straight in front of her, torso arched forward.  She holds it until the muscles give and then does it again.  If I ask her to stop, she can stop for a second, but then she's right back at it.  It's like a complusion, but she does seem to be able to stop, so it's not like a seizure.


When we go out to eat, she pushes on the highchair through the entire meal.  It's pretty dramatic.  Once a family asked to be moved to a different table away from us.  Everyone says, "she just doesn't want to be in the highchair" but she gets really mad if we try to interrupt the pushing.  She was pushing on a booster at my best friend's house while we were eating dinner, and my best friend's husband told me that it made him uncomfortable.  As a result, she can't sit in a chair without being strapped in, because she will push herself out and be upset.


In the other thread (from 2004), the posters tossed around the idea that it might be mastubatory, but she seems to be in distress when she does it.  Grimacing, often near tears or actually crying, and she's done this since she was about 3 weeks old.


The only times she doesn't do it at all are when she's scared, completely asleep, or when she was nursing.


Has anyone known a child with this issue?  Was s/he neurotypical?


Any thoughts are appreciated.

post #2 of 21

I worked with a little boy that did this...he had some other sensory issues as well.  I used work with TN early tintervention system.  It sounds like sensory seeking behavior to me.  The good news is that this behavior in the boy I worked with significantly decreased after a short time with some OT work.  A lot of which his parents did at home. 

post #3 of 21

I'd request an evaluation from your ped for early intervention.  Can't hurt.

post #4 of 21
Thread Starter 

Yeah, you guys are spot-on.  She's had an OT eval, and we're deciding whether to go down that road.  I was just hoping to find some thoughts on whether this is something that "regular" kids do, or whether anyone's seen it in a kid that wasn't in need of OT.  Here's a photo of her doing it in the bathtub. (Stopped playing to do this.)



post #5 of 21

My mom is a ped so I mentioned it to her.  She thought it sounded like a "stereotypic behavior" (which doesn't mean much in itself, even thumb sucking is a stereotypic behavior) and that maybe a neuro consult wouldn't hurt, but also asked if she had any problems with constipation or possible abdominal pain.  But yeah, I would say something that stops her from playing and that she does 60% of the time she's awake is abnormal.  Also it sounds uncomfortable, and for that alone a workup would be a good idea, maybe with a developmental pediatrician if you can find one.

post #6 of 21

I think that how often she is doing it is more than 'normal' but the behaviour itself isn't weird.  My son does something like this once or twice a day, mostly just the flexed and crossed legs and he also can look like he's in pain or really struggling.  He usually just does it when his diaper is off.  For him it is definitely something that feels good (mastubatory like you mentioned).  With your dd's sensory issues she could be seeking out that good feeling more often.

post #7 of 21
I have to say I think I would be pushing for an evaluation. The behavior itself doesn't seem alarming-- what seems off to me is how frequently it's happening, and how it seems to be interfering with normal learning and exploring.
post #8 of 21

Is she trying to hold in a poop? My DD crosses her legs and sweats when she tries to hold in a poop. Can you distract her out of it? Maybe she has abdominal pain of some kind. I know that I get really tense when my crohns is flaring and I have abdominal pain. I tense up to deal with the pain.


I dont know. I hope you figure it out.

post #9 of 21

Hi justKate

What about cross-posting this in the Special Needs section?  Those mamas are the all-knowing, all-seeing, all-intuitive posse of this entire site when it comes to anything that makes a mama wonder about development, typical or not. 

As for me, I've never seen behaviour like that.  I know that you've had a prelim eval and perhaps this can be explored during the next step?

Merry Christmas, mama!  See you over in our ddc.

post #10 of 21

I'm sorry to say I've never seen that behavior (and I go to the largest children's museum in the world once a week so I've seen thousands of toddlers at play (including non-neurotypical kids)) or had any friends or family mention that behavior and you're the first person I've seen post about it on MDC. Most toddlers I know arch their backs during a tantrum, of course.


I think Llyra has the best idea. The behavior does seem like it could very well be the sign of something going on. Mind you, I wouldn't worry too much, even if there is something that needs to be done to make your dd more comfortable and have an easier time of things, it's just as likely to be something easy and simple.

post #11 of 21

Hi There,


My toddler (24 mo) does exactly the same behavior.  I was just searching on the internet, yet again, for what we only could call as "pushing" and I found your post.  She has also done this from a very young age.  I can't find any information about any other children doing this exact behavior as you describe it.  Once she begins "pushing" (locking her arms/legs - stiffening) she won't let us stop her or she will cry.  She also seems as if she is in pain and is trying to "push" against it and sweats profusely.  We were also told that it could be mastubatory  by a neurologist but we completely disagree because she seems also to be in distress and not relaxed.  She typically does not fall asleep unless she pushes for long periods of time.  Once asleep, she relaxes her muscles and breathes normally.


Was your baby a preemie by chance?  Mine was a micro preemie born at only 24weeks gestation weighing 1lb 3oz.  She was in the NICU for almost 5 months.  The reason why I ask is because I am wondering if it stems from how she was born. 


We are at a loss and know that this must be bothering her so any information you can share from your experience would be helpful.  We also are talking about video taping it once again and showing to another doctor for a second opinion.




post #12 of 21
Thread Starter 

Justamom43, pm'ing you.

post #13 of 21

Has anyone ever gotten any sort of diagnosis on this behavior? Or help with it at all? My daughter's case seems to be even more atypical than the "usual"... I've only found a handful of moms asking these same questions across the web and they mostly describe their toddler daughter (22 months seems to be the most common age). My daughter started her "pushing" behavior in Dec 2010, at the age of 7. Same behaviors reported by the toddler moms: crossing her legs, pushing herself up on her hands, tensing up all her muscles, rocking, sweating profusely and also having labored breathing and pounding heart during these episodes. She's being doing it anywhere between once and 5 times a day since then, for up to an hour at a time. If I see her doing it and ask what she's doing/why she's doing it, she stops and often denies that she was "pushing"... it's almost trancelike. She doesn't realize she's doing it, but can stop at will. It really doesn't seem to be a pleasurable experience. Her expression seems pained and the whole episode seems to be a lot of work for her body and like something she HAS to do as opposed to something she WANTS to do...

post #14 of 21

This is an older thread and I posted above about my son doing this.  He didn't do it nearly as much as the OPs daughter and some other posters and rarely does it anymore.  I noticed all of you have girls and I wanted to let you know when my son does this he gets an erection.  So I really think it's mastubatory but maybe that isn't as obvious with girls.  And my son would also grunt, sweat, and look like he was in pain but it is very clear it feels good for him.

post #15 of 21
Thread Starter 

dkenagy, I have to ask, what did you search to pull up this thread?!  Seriously it took me a long time to find something to google or search that would get me the right info. 


Anyway, I'm the OP and as weird as it is, my DD just stopped doing it one day right around 33 months.  It sort of tapered off over the course of a month, and I think it had to do with her being in a preschool class where the teachers (at my suggestion) would gently suggest that she didn't need to push.  We did do an OT eval, but I didn't feel like anything was really wrong with her, so we didn't follow through with it.  We did try to increase sensory input in other ways--massage, "brushing," etc.  But ultimately she just stopped.


In your situation, I think it might be worth trying to talk to her about it again.  Does she do it at school or in public?  Obviously she's old enough to know that its not "normal" behavior.  Maybe another conversation about whether it feels good or what she could do instead would be helpful?  If not, I don't think it would hurt to talk to a ped or OT about it, especially since she just picked it up.


I hope you find a solution!  Keep us posted. 

post #16 of 21

Over the years, I've worked with several teens on the autism spectrum who liked to do this.  They appeared to like the simultaneous pressure on the head/feet.  It's definitely a sensory thing.  The kids who did it had other sensory issues.  Compared to head-banging, self-injury, masturbation in public, it's much easier to live with/manage.


As to whether or not neurotypical children are known to do this as well, I can't speak to that.  A lot of "autistic" behavior that is noticeable is the same behavior that you see in the neurotypical population, it's just the frequency/duration stands out as being much more pronounced.   

post #17 of 21

Hi Kate,


Did you ever get anywhere with getting an explanation to why your daughter does this 'pushing' behavior?


My daughter does the same thing and it's driving me insane trying to get a diagnosis!





post #18 of 21
Thread Starter 

Just wanted to give an update here in case anyone finds the thread in the future!  My DD1 did stop pushing at about 33 months, but then started again when her little sister was born.  She just turned 4 last week and seems to be stopping again.  sageowl, thanks for the input!  It definitely sounds like a sensory issue, but you're right, it is a bearable one by comparison.  


Daddy-J, I messaged you back!


Just a thought--was anyone else's pusher in the NICU?  DD1 (my pusher) was full-term but landed in the NICU for her first three weeks.  I can't help but wonder if the early sensory overload wasn't a contributing factor in some of this.  Also, has anyone tried Chiropractic care?  

post #19 of 21

My nephew (age 5) and one of my neices (age 2 1/2, a twin) did something similar, though not at as much of a frequent rate.  My nephew did it until around 3 1/2 and my niece still does it on occasion.  My neice did it with such frequency at a couple months old that she was originally suspected of having CP.   Neither were really preemies (My nephew was born the day before his due date and I think the twins were born at 37 weeks), but both had traumatic beginnings.  My nephew had all sorts of breathing issues (still does), so had lots of tests run on him the first few days of his life and my niece had a traumatic vag birth (as did her twin), and did receive special treatment for a couple days after her birth (as did her twin sister).  Both my nephew and my neice were recently diagnosed with Sensory Processing Disorders and being on the Autistic Spectrum.

post #20 of 21
Hi justkate- my 6 month daughter is doing the same thing and we've just started down the consultation and evaluation phase. Any suggestions for a first time and extremely anxious mom? Will it eventually stop or become less frequent? Is there anything I can do to help?
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