Need feedback on my 4 yr olds behavior - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 6 Old 01-19-2013, 09:28 PM - Thread Starter
 
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I know so much about this subject that its hard to be objective. I am an ECE specialist with experience administering developmental screenings and the mom of three older children on the spectrum. So my head constantly swims with info that can cause worries. That being said....

 

My 4 year old DS is really starting to challenge me. As a toddler he was rather sweet and quiet, and now he is still sweet but WILD. Here are some of the behaviors I am noticing (and have NOT responded to regular disciplinary measures).

 

- jumps on and tackles people when they are sitting down, reading or something. Will not stop if asked politely. He isn't angry, he thinks its fun. He'll stop after time out but he's back at it in a few hours or next day.

 

- throws toys and books frequently. He used to sit quietly and play with his blocks. Now they've become projectiles. He will stop after a time out, but it happens at least 3x a day.

 

- hits and screams at older brothers repeatedly throughout day if they are sitting somewhere he wants to sit or don't do what he wants them to do (like play a game with him). He has fantastic language skills but won't "use his words" despite prompting and encouragement from them and me. He just goes, "Eh, eh, eh, eh" while shoving them off the chair or raising his arms up and shreiking the way a toddler might who wanted something out of reach.

 

- he'll run up to you and make this buzzing noise and lightly tap your body with his fists. It doesn't hurt, but its annoying. It literally seems like his whole body is buzzing with pent up energy. He does this to his baby brother and sometimes it knocks him down which frustrates me.

 

- I used to be able to talk to him and/or gently physically guide him and he'd be receptive. Now when I go to touch him when he's misbehaving he takes off, usually laughing. I can't seem to connect with him when I try to get down on his level. He is either trying to wiggle away or looking everywhere else other than my face.

 

- its a huge fight to get him dressed or brush his teeth or wash his hair. Nothing new there but I thought I'd mention it. 

 

- he does "flap" his arms and hang his tongue out when he's super excited but he's been raised with three autistic kids so it very possible that is a learned behavior.

 

I recognize that he probably needs more exercise. We are cooped up indoors most of the time and its worse that usual because we've all been fighting viruses since the holidays. But even today after working up a sweat with a vigorous indoor game, he was not better. I was totally losing it by bedtime. He has a routine, but he just runs around like a wild child. 

 

His reciprocal social/emotional and language skills rule out autism, but what about ADHD or SPD? Or do I just have a typical active little four year old boy who is sick of winter? I know that four year olds go through a really tough testing stage and where they can get super aggressive and defiant. He's not angry though, its more like he's just wound up. He frequently apologizes to me during the day, "Sorry, Mommy. I don't know why I do that." Like I said, still sweet. 


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#2 of 6 Old 01-19-2013, 10:06 PM
 
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Sounds like a normal 4 year old boy to me. They really are inexplicable! 

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#3 of 6 Old 01-20-2013, 11:43 AM
 
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It sounds a bit to me like he could be sensory seeking. Maybe an under-aroused nervous system (hence the quietness as a younger child) that is now looking for the input it's missing. I wonder how he would respond to a sensory diet? Maybe an OT could help.

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#4 of 6 Old 01-20-2013, 02:27 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Originally Posted by baltmom View Post

It sounds a bit to me like he could be sensory seeking. Maybe an under-aroused nervous system (hence the quietness as a younger child) that is now looking for the input it's missing. I wonder how he would respond to a sensory diet? Maybe an OT could help.

  

 

By sensory diet do you mean sensory activities that we do daily to help give him that "input"? Can you give a few examples? I admit though my ASD kids have sensory issues they take a backseat to the mood issues and we haven't done much sensory with them other than providing headphones for dinner time auditory overload and accommodating clothing preferences etc. Occasionally we've done deep pressure, squeezing, etc.

 

Also can you tell me more about under-aroused nervous system? Or give me a link I can read more? I am going to look into that ....

 

Also wanted to add that DH and I are both gifted and have at one time or another received a dx of ADD but neither of us had hyperactivity as children. 

 

ETA: I looked up sensory seeking and I can see that perhaps is an issue esp the proprioceptive (although I also think much of that behavior is normal for a young boy) but looking at some of the recommended toys and activities I realized something. I deliberately have kept him away from that stuff most his life. Toys that move, flash, make noise....we don't have them. I am of the belief that many modern toys are overstimulating and might cause the very issue we are struggling with. I am totally willing to re-evaluated that though. I may start a new thread about this...its really making me wonder!


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#5 of 6 Old 01-21-2013, 11:06 AM
 
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I'm no expert, but I'll try to respond to some of your questions and I'm sure others with more experience and knowledge will chime in.

 

Yes, a sensory diet provides activities that provide that needed input.

 

For us, I really can't separate out sensory from mood - for my son, the sensory experience has such a large impact on the mood, and vice versa. If he's getting the input he needs, he's calm and regulated. If he's calm and regulated, he tolerates sensory shifts better.

 

Headphones and clothing preferences usually have to do with sensory sensitivities or avoidances, while things like deep pressure and squeezing are more related to seeking. I'd really recommend talking with an OT for suggested activities, but just to give an idea of some that we've experimented with: My son has a lot of proprioceptive seeking, so to accommodate that I try to offer activities like jumping on a trampoline, crashing into the couch (beanbags are often recommended), standing rather than sitting while drawing at his little table, standing on something - OT's like those balance cushions, but for now I just use a pillow, and playing tug-o-war. From what I understand, vestibular stuff often goes along with the prop, so activities like swinging or spinning can be helpful.

 

I totally agree - most of this is very typical of young boys! All of us have sensory stuff going on, both sensitivities and preferences. Pencil-chewing and foot-jiggling are common examples of very common behaviors that most of us never really notice but that are all about sensory need. It usually just becomes an issue if it becomes an issue, if you know what I mean - if it starts to interfere with his experiences or development, or with your family life - you said you were finding some of the behaviors challenging and that he wasn't responding to the guidance you've been using.

 

I certainly don't feel qualified to discuss the under-aroused nervous system, though my general understanding is that a system that by nature is not very sensitive to stimuli (e.g. my son didn't seem to feel a lot of pain/discomfort as a baby), then needs to create situations with stronger stimuli to keep it regulated. Regulation in general is central to this sensory stuff - it's all about finding those combinations of activities that keep us aroused but not too aroused, and calm but not too calm, so that we are as available as possible to take in and process information - social, emotional, academic, etc.

 

I too find some of the stuff online confusing. I think it's mostly because sensory stuff is so specific for each kid, and the examples never seem to match up very well. Honestly, I've learned the most from this board, though I know there are some recommended books out there too. By the way, I've always avoided those stimulating toys too and am surprised they were recommended as strategies... maybe someone else has insight into that?

 

Best of luck, and keep us posted.

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#6 of 6 Old 01-26-2013, 02:09 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Some success to report....he is doing a little better the last couple days, at least with the aggressive play stuff. I am trying less to reason with him and more to just redirect his energies to something that is ok to do. That is usually my MO anyway but I think I just got distracted with all the energy and was trying to figure out and talk him out of it and when that didn't work moved to consequences, instead of remembering DH and my basic parenting philosophy of trying to meet the kids' needs. Climbing on furniture incessantly = time to go to park and climb play equipment. Throwing blocks = time to put blocks away and get out balls or bean bag game. When he does that buzzy thing, I assume he needs some input and I give him a big squeeze or a tickle. Seems to work! I am also working on adding more structure to the day. We have regular meals/naps/bedtimes, but I'd like to add some structure to our free play time. When I was a Pre-K teacher we had a nice rhythm to the day, a mix of structure and free choice, quiet and busy activities, and honestly, if I hadn't all hell would have broken loose in those 3 hours! So why I am expecting so much more of him (and less of myself) at home?

 

Now on to work on the screaming. The eh, eh, eh, thing and the toddler-like shrieking. I know that a huge part of the issue is his relationship and interaction with his ASD brothers. They are hard to communicate with and its also very hard to get their attn. I think he does it partly because it works! I mean you can say, excuse me please 10 times or you can just whine and push. Over the last year, he's learned option B gets the biggest response. I am thinking of trying to just take a break this weekend from household chores and kind of shadow him and see if I can 1) really see what is going on in those moments and 2) provide some direction before it turns to screaming. I have got to get to the bottom of it because with some auditory sensitivity myself its making me batty!


Mom to DS(17) autismribbon.gif DS(15) autismribbon.gif DS(12) autismribbon.gif My gifted, quirky, wonderful teens!

Mama to Jack bouncy.gif11.08 and Liam  biggrinbounce.gif 9.11 and due with boy #6! stork-boy.gif  

Blissfully married to the love of my life since 8.8.8 partners.gif 

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