Originally Posted by BellinghamCrunchie
I worked with a child with mild autism who had similar issues. He liked the excitement of getting a rise out of another person, particularly if it made the other person move fast or scream. He didn't really perceive that it was hurting the other person; the franticness of the other person's response and the feeling of having made something so big happen seemed to be what he was after. He particularly liked to push or shove younger children because their reaction was more dramatic.
Taking him someplace like the play area at McDonald's was a disaster.
It didn't work to try to get across that the other person didn't like it, or to try to work on developing empathy. That was beyond his reach.
He seemed to be understimulated. He seemed to need to make "big" things happen. Big screaming fast moving things. I don't know what would happen if the child was given exclusionary time-out after every aggressive episode - it would seem that since he was after "big" stimulation, giving him even less opportunity to get that stimulation would probably not work. Maybe it would. I'm not sure. Do you think it would be a struggle to get him into a safe, quiet room and then keep him there for a few minutes? I don't necessarily think time-out is wrong if the issue is about overstimulation and understimulation - it could be a really good choice for him.
But what did seem to help was combining a robust program of edible reinforcement (he liked M&M's) with redirection to other activities that would meet his need to make something big happen (e.g. loud dance party, playing with an electric train set, playing with a remote-controlled dog that would bark and turn in circles). Can you find something to redirect him to, that he can access in all the same environments and at the same times that he is now currently being aggressive? And maybe combine that with a reinforcement program that gave him a special treat or activity he really likes for every 30 minutes of no aggression? Then when he is aggressive, your response would be to physically block him and direct him to the other activity (have it set up and accessible to him), and reset the timer for 30 minutes (in your head - so that he has to go 30 consecutive minutes with no aggression).
I'm not a big fan of behaviorism. I would prefer to establish and maintain a close relationship with my child and then because of the caring about each other's needs and desires, behavior becomes more and more considerate and thoughtful as the child's empathy and theory of mind develops. But with autism that tends to be very delayed, and for the sake of everyone in the family an aggressive, positive approach even if it is behavioral might be a good choice.
Thank you for your suggestions. He will go to his room for a couple minutes (after slamming the door) so that might help. We've always used redirection primarily, I'm not sure how/if he would react to positive reinforcement.. I agree that it would probably be beneficial to try other things..
Originally Posted by Mittsy
Are you having him see a Speech Therapist and a Occupational Therapist? The aggressiveness sounds like it stems from sensory issues. I would guess that he is hyposensitive possibly in the tactile and proprioceptive systems? What type of sensory related activities are you doing now? Have you looked into food allergies, gfcf diet, gaps/scd, supplement...?
My dd is a aspie, although she is hypersensitive to auditory/tactile/proprioceptive things I'm not really familiar with the hyposensitive kiddos. For her we found punitive methods of discipline didn't help at all, it only made things worse. We are a UP/CL household, we also use nvc for problems, we trying to do a lot of sensory diet stuff for dd to help her feel more regulated more of the time..... and that's the mix that has worked best.
For your specific situation first let me ask when do you get a break? And how often? I strongly believe you must take care of yourself first before you can take care of your kids. For me that has meant taking small frequent breaks throughout the day ot do things like meditate, chant, read a book, knit, mindfully sip coffee/tea, play with kids, work on art, call a friend..... It sounds to me like your child needs constant interaction at this point, so I would stick to him like glue. It sounds like he needs to be taught anger management, and also that you would do well to model it for him. Does he have someplace he could go when he gets really angry or things get overwhelming? Since the explaining things isn't working I would verbally point out to him that he's getting upset and take him to a area/room filled with things to help him calm down and let him know it is ok to be angry but I can not let you hurt other people. Can you print out a chart of happy, sad, angry faces and get your son acquainted with it? That way he can learn about his emotions and you can let him know when you feel/look like the angry face your body is trying to tell you that it's time to cool down before someone gets hurt.
Also make sure your other child is getting enough attention here. It can be really hard for the other sibling when they get looked over all the time because his older brother has special needs or can be a challenging kid. I would make sure to let your other child pick some of the games/outings/tv shows, and try to get some special one on one time with each kiddo doing whatever they want. When you can't prevent your other child from getting hurt make sure to always check on the hurt child first. I know it feels like you should talk to the child whom committed the offense first, but I feel it's more important to model for that child that when someone gets hurt we always attend to their needs first, then we check in with ourself. So after you tend to the hurt kid try to figure out what went wrong, why this incident occured, and what you can do to prevent it from happening next time.
He does get speech twice a week. We're having problems getting him into OT again.
I rarely get breaks, my patience is infinite compared to my husbands and I don't like to hand the kids over to him. He is just as likely to be short tempered as to be fun. Regardless he is gone TDY for 2 months so I won't see him again until mid Dec.
He can go to his room if he needs to but I usually have to tell him to, he won't do it on his own. The chart of the faces is a good idea, I will definitely work on that, thanks. :)
When DH is home we often take the boys out separately to do things so we each get alone time with each kid. It's a good idea to talk to the little one first when he gets hurt, that's a good point, thanks.
Originally Posted by Greenlea
You didn't mention how old your son is. Mine is 3.5 yrs and I have a very hard time with him listening and hurting his 2 yr old brother. And my son doesn't have autism. Could this be a "normal" sibling thing or is he this way to everyone?
Also, I understand being at your wits end with him hurting his brother but really think about this - you are telling him / yelling at him for hitting or hurting, then you go and hit (spank) him. Is that really teaching him to not hit? That may be feeding into his aggression.
How is your child's diet? Have you cut out dairy, gluten, dyes, preservatives, etc? All can negatively effect a child's behavior, especially one with autism. Also, if he can't communicate well hitting may be his only option to get people's attention. Maybe he really just wants to play with his brother, but can't tell him? I would try speech therapy if you don't have him in it already, and / or some sign language to get him and you to communicate better.
He's 4 and little brother is 2. I think it can definitely be a typical 4 yo boy thing as well.
Re the bolded part, this is why I made this thread..not to mention is doesn't really work. I guess I feel like if I can't make him listen I can at least let him know what he did is serious. But I really don't want to spank anymore. I do think it feeds into his aggression.
His diet is mostly organic, whole food type things. We haven't cut anything out yet, though I know we should. We just have a very tight budget.
Originally Posted by journeymom
I'm sorry you've got so much on your plate! You might cross-post in the Special Needs Parenting forum.
Thanks, I had that thought. :)