Behaviour Help for HFA 3 yo - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 30 Old 11-09-2013, 07:30 PM - Thread Starter
 
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DS just started preschool in September and before this we've never really had any real "behaviour" issues with him- I guess we're lucky in that regard. He has his bad tantrums and normal kid stuff but nothing we couldn't handle and nothing that I couldn't try different ways to address it and eventually find something that worked to avoid, eliminate or defuse the behaviour. So I'm just baffled now and would love to hear any of your suggestions.

 

We've been getting lots of complaints from his teachers about aggression and hitting all of a sudden. It started out as DS would have a meltdown and when the teachers tried to calm him he would lash out physically at them. We quickly found out that it was because they were getting too close, too quickly when he was upset. Hugs don't calm him, neither does close face talking (doesn't work for me either!). Anyway, then he began hitting and pushing other kids, with little or no provocation it seems. Although he is a quite a big and strong 3 yo his pushes and hits are not hard at all, it doesn't seem he is trying to really hurt anyone. Nevertheless in the preschool world this is THE behaviour that they won't tolerate- we are already at the point where they are talking about us having to take him out! Not because he has really hurt anyone just because it happens so often, like all the time. I've seen it myself. I can't tell what sets him off- a lot of the time he doesn't even seem angry- a kid will just walk in his vicinity and he will reach out and softly smack him on the arm or whatever. Or he will walk up to a kid and lightly push him. :( He has hit and pushed harder- when someone takes his toy, or otherwise "provokes" him but usually it is these softer but aggressive touches. He hasn't really hurt any of the kids like I said, he has hurt his teacher once by head-butting her when he was upset and she got way too close to his face (she doesn't seem to get this either :irked) Now it has spread to home and his baby sister- he used to be nothing but gentle with her. 

 

We've tried all the usual stuff. Positive reinforcement when he is using appropriate touches (lots of this). Natural consequence of removing him from play. Talking about good touches and bad touches. Direct and brief admonishment when he does the behaviour combined with all the above ("We don't hit" "We don't push"). Read books and watched videos about no hitting etc. NOTHING works. We just can't get through to him.

 

Like I said, this is THE behaviour they won't tolerate in his school and if he is kicked out of this school there is no where else he can go. So we are in a pretty desperate place.


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#2 of 30 Old 11-10-2013, 05:26 AM
 
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Expat-mama, did you make changes in his diet at the end of the summer?  I seem to remember a thread about that?

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#3 of 30 Old 11-13-2013, 07:25 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Yep, we did. We are going back on the diet straight away. *Sigh*

It's hard because DS was actually losing weight for a while last year and was literally eating rice crispies with rice milk for 2 out of 3 meals :( and now he is eating so well I'm afraid of what will happen... I think we will try taking just gluten and soy out and see if we can manage with at least minimal amounts of dairy.

 

But I'm starting to get a better picture about what is happening at school now though. DS had a field trip today and DH was the chaperone so spent a lot of time there. I haven't really spent time with the class since the acclimation period at the start of the year, just observed for 10-15 mins at pickup time. Anyway, it seems that the other kids in DS's class are unusually docile, compliant and quiet! Seriously. I have noticed when I pick up DS and they are still having lunch or when they are having "choice activity" time that it is eerily quiet- the other kids don't talk! Don't laugh! It's weird (maybe it's a cultural thing? but I think a Canadian preschool would be far more boisterous). Except from one kid who is a year older than DS who is DS's bestie in the class, none of them TALK.

Also DS is very gifted (a topic for another thread- but he is reading at 2/3rd grade level can do simple math and other stuff) and I think he is bored and disinterested in what they are doing when they need his "cooperation" (sit and listen, be quiet). We knew this would be the case, but figured he would be learning social stuff and as a bonus a second-language since it is a bilingual school (he has already picked up an amazing amount of Arabic).

 

So it is becoming clear that there are a lot of factors that could be causing this behaviour. Diet is a big one we are considering. But I'm thinking DS is just smacking people to liven up the place! :eyesroll So I don't know where that leaves us. 


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#4 of 30 Old 11-14-2013, 09:15 AM
 
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Hi....

 

I totally get it.  Mine lost a lot of weight on the diet initially too.  That, I think, is the detox period which lasts six months to a year.  Then amazingly, he put on a great deal of weight on the diet, in the more normal range (30%), after he got used to getting more of his calories from nuts, meats, complex carbs and the like.  His taste buds matured yes, so he was willing to eat other foods, but, I also did a lot of explaining about food, how, we eat healthy foods to help us grow, sometimes, we like something better with ketchup, mustard and spice and to try the food again that way...etc. 

 

I went back and forth with the diet so I TOTALLY recognize the pattern of behavior change.  Since they grow and develop so rapidly at this age, it can look like they've matured, and you don't trust if the diet played a part in the learning and growth or if it was just greater maturity.  But, i'll be curious to know, if in two weeks time, you notice a significant change in his ability to tolerate touch and physical proximity and if he also tries to interact in a playful way with the other children.  It used to take only two weeks to see it when my son was very young. 

 

My son went from being very awkward in his preschool, which for him, was not physical pushing or touching, but he used "echolalia" to try to connect.  The other boys called him "echoboy"....ouch.  It took two weeks and he started to make friends.  

 

If I were you, I would worry less about calories and food variety and stabilize his school life.  I'd take all three out, gluten, dairy and soy, and then try and reintroduce a tiny amount of diary after he's stabilized.  Then, do it so infrequently that you'll know if any change in his behavior is due to the food he ate.  I would give my son a cheese stick or a yogurt drink, once a week, in the lunch box, for example, since like you, I probably worried the most about calcium intake and milk has tons of calories. 

 

But I have to tell you, now that he's older and can tell me what it feels like to eat the food off diet, I am glad we are "cold turkey".  He says he feels very fuzzy headed and unable to think clearly when he eats dairy. 

 

Having a calm quiet environment for a preschool can actually be advantageous for a child with sensory issues so I wouldn't attribute your son's behavior to being in a "too quiet environment".  My children's preschool was very well modulated.  People spoke in quiet tones, the walls were painted in muted colors and the children were very sweet and peaceful.  (It was waldorf)  Maybe he is bored, but, I he certainly wouldn't be if he could figure out how to interact with the other children.  You don't need words to play cars or tag.  Being gifted can certainly complicate things a bit, but, being so young, gifted children often benefit the most from being in environments where there is no academic learning at this age, and they can focus on learning how to play and be a friend.  These are life long skills that if learned in childhood lead to happy adults :)

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#5 of 30 Old 11-16-2013, 07:44 AM - Thread Starter
 
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We just came back from a session with a behaviour therapist and consultation with our developmental pediatrician. They both are thinking that DS's behaviour at school is related to him being bored and UNDER-stimulated. Both also think we should try the diet again.

Also that the hitting behaviour and resulting attention and actions taken by teachers and staff and us have all become a reinforcing thing for him- he likes it because it all unfolds so predictably. He hits and then he can predict what will happen next so it is comforting when faced with other unpredictable things going on. The whole thing of liking routines etc. Behaviour therapist said it is imperative to ignore the hitting and avoid going back to the predictable reactions and when needed just silently and calmly remove him from the situation with as little fuss as possible and if we are consistent with this the hitting should stop in max 3 weeks. 

Actually this approach worked for a similar problem we had a long while with inappropriate things DS would say in public and to strangers because he liked the predictable reaction he would get from others and us. We totally ignored it and it stopped within a couple of weeks. Talking about things only seem to exacerbate these things with DS as he loves talking and is really stimulated by verbal interactions and excited when people get emotional when talking about things. 

 

I wonder how the teachers will react when we tell them they should IGNORE the behaviour. Hm.


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#6 of 30 Old 11-16-2013, 07:53 AM - Thread Starter
 
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 Maybe he is bored, but, I he certainly wouldn't be if he could figure out how to interact with the other children.  You don't need words to play cars or tag.  Being gifted can certainly complicate things a bit, but, being so young, gifted children often benefit the most from being in environments where there is no academic learning at this age, and they can focus on learning how to play and be a friend.  These are life long skills that if learned in childhood lead to happy adults :)

I agree with this in theory. But I really think DS is not really capable of "figuring out" how to interact with other kids. I mean isn't that the nature of ASDs?- they can't figure these social things out the way others naturally do. They have to be taught systematically. I think this will be how DS learns how to interact in a social way but I am starting to think  he is incapable right now, at his age and level of development, of really learning all he needs to not be so stressed at school and to function well in the environment. I'm so worried that the anxiety he is feeling and the reprimands he may be receiving for his inappropriate behaviours and interactions will affect his self-esteem and will cause him to have a negative association with teachers and other kids and any school-like setting (I think this may already be the case).

 

DH and I have been talking a lot about this and thinking that it may be best to keep DS's social interactions limited to what he can handle- small play dates and activities in controlled environments. This might mean home-schooling him until he has learned (through therapy, social-skills groups, play dates etc) how to handle a school-like setting. I can feel the stress and anxiety emanating from DS when I pick him up from school. Even though he says he likes it, maybe he is just not ready. 


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#7 of 30 Old 11-16-2013, 08:58 AM
 
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Every child on the spectrum is different.   My son on the spectrum IS able to learn social interaction easily and well when he can concentrate on interaction and only interaction.  A play based preschool was marvelous for him, as was summer camp during the regular school year, where he'd make huge leaps in social skill.

 

Like your son, he's on the "milder" end of the spectrum and likely has the social communication disorder diagnosis that will be given to many kids who used to have PDD-NOS.   Did your son speak early?  Do you see him as being a child who relates more through his intellect and fixed interests like one with aspergers?

 

It may be wise to take him out.  OR, change his diet, and wait a month and see if improvements occur in his ability to interact and manage his reactions to the other children.  Don't minimize the effect of being able to think clearly and well on a child's ability to modulate their reactions and make leaps in development.  I've seen it happen so many times for my son I can't overlook it any more.  For me, rewinding back to the time when my son was 3 and 4, changing his diet made HUGE improvements in his social language within 2 weeks.

 

I think, if I may hazard a guess, your son has NO idea what he is doing is inappropriate so he isn't even seeing himself in a negative light.   Many children have phases where they hit, pinch and push other children, of course, not to minimize that your son isn't coping ideally, but most children get through this phase without negative consequences to their self esteem.  Unless, however, they get "stuck" there and are known as the child who pushes and hits.  The hope, i'd imagine, if he stays in the program, is to figure out how to help him get through this phase. 

 

One idea....something my children's preschool used to use, was a montessori technique, where children who wanted to play alone, without sharing, could play on their mat, which was a rug remnant, that they'd sit on with their toy.  No other child or teacher would be allowed to enter their space while they were on the mat, nor, would they have to share.  I wonder if the school would be willing to create some rules and structure that would make it feel safer for your son.  Teachers also can also stagger lines to snack or the bath room, even taking a child alone if needed to prevent people from entering your son's space.   These are the kind of interventions that could help him reduce his anxiety.

 

But, what I am also responding to is the thought that children on the spectrum don't learn social interaction unless taught.  When my son was diagnosed with PDD his neuropsychologist explained that it is common for children with high functioning PDD to copy social interaction.  It makes good role models for interaction important and why going to preschool was so helpful for him.  He literally learned how to play by watching other children do it and copying them.  It was such great fun for him, that he hasn't stopped and it has served him in good stead, as, he has many friends and considers himself a good friend.  But, some children on the spectrum may need these skills explicitly taught.  Certainly, that's true but isn't always.

 

 

I think it is hard to tease these things out at age 3 though.  You're in a tough spot. It certainly isn't a bad idea to pull him out nor is it a bad idea to push it and see if he can resolve this especially if the school is willing to make some changes to reduce his anxiety.  Are they?  Or is it all on you?

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#8 of 30 Old 11-17-2013, 07:25 PM
 
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Not much to add, except to say that some of this may just be him being 3--it's one of those tough ages, and it's like they literally become a different kid for awhile...it's not my favorite age for this reason.

 

If he's in a public pre-school, and has an IEP/IFSP, you may want to call a meeting and put together a Behavior Intervention Plan (BIP).  That might help a lot--basically, it outlines what the known issues are, and outlines a consistent set of responses for what is done when those issues occur at school.  If it's a private preschool, you can't do something that formal, but you may want to try something similar--a behavior plan is always a good idea when you have a kid who's struggling.  It's basically just a reminder that some approaches are more effective with your particular kiddo and should be the go-to strategies.

 

Hope you figure out something that works better soon.

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#9 of 30 Old 11-18-2013, 04:05 AM
 
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Sageowl, I think part of the problem is that they're overseas....no IEP's....

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#10 of 30 Old 11-18-2013, 11:32 PM
 
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I have little to offer in the realm of concrete suggestions - diet did exactly nothing for YoungSon, and social interaction was really rough, until he learned by watching and copying, just as Livinglife said. Therapy, social group classes, and formal lessons had no impact - we just had to wait it out. In our case, that meant withdrawing him from school - that environment really did not work for YoungSon. Today, at 17, he is thriving, has several really good, long-term friends, and is in high school with no accommodations.

 

But I wanted to heartily recommend a book: "The Reason  I Jump". An autobiography written by a 13 year old Japanese boy with autism, this is the most insightful, amazing view I have ever seen of what autism feels like from the inside. Jaw-dropping in its depth, it really made sense to me about how his brain works.


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#11 of 30 Old 11-19-2013, 07:26 AM
 
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I don't know either. DS1 who is 4.5 but more like really 3.5 cognitively, can be very aggressive. It used to be with random kids at parks, he would just walk up and kick them in the shins. That has passed. He is very aggressive with his younger sibling to the point where they can not be together. We spilt them up constantly,for everything.  DH takes DS2 away so DS1 and I can eat dinner together alone even. It's not ideal, it bites honestly but we've tried so many things and this is just what we have to do right now. We haven't had problems with him being aggressive at school. He is very passive there. For now anyway. 

 

I'm wondering if a break from school for even a couple weeks might be enough to push the reset button? That might be something I would try before you are forced to take him out. 


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#12 of 30 Old 11-19-2013, 12:02 PM
 
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I'm wondering if a break from school for even a couple weeks might be enough to push the reset button? That might be something I would try before you are forced to take him out. 

I agree with Peony. I don't think that the teachers can just ignore the actions, since they affect the other students.  Can you imagine a kid going home to their parents and saying that another kid hit them, then the teacher tells that parent, "Well, we're ignoring the behavior to try to stop it." LOL!  So it sounds like keeping him at home to settle things down would be a good idea for everyone involved.  

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#13 of 30 Old 11-20-2013, 08:23 PM - Thread Starter
 
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I agree with Peony. I don't think that the teachers can just ignore the actions, since they affect the other students.  Can you imagine a kid going home to their parents and saying that another kid hit them, then the teacher tells that parent, "Well, we're ignoring the behavior to try to stop it." LOL!  So it sounds like keeping him at home to settle things down would be a good idea for everyone involved.  

While I see what you are saying, I don't think it is for other parents to have a say in how the teachers manage my son's behaviour. How they react to and manage my son's behaviour has nothing to do with how the teachers are responding to OTHER children. Ignoring my son's behaviour in order to promote a more positive pattern and reduce the effect on other children does not stop them in reacting with the requisite compassion and care for the other children. This is how inclusion works right? Special needs children require different styles and methods of education than other children.


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#14 of 30 Old 11-20-2013, 08:29 PM
 
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I'm really dismayed reading about your situation and how it is being handled and interpreted. 

 

My HFA son had exactly the same issues when he started preschool, except that we knew before then that he had the tendency to hit and be physically aggressive. By keeping him away from stress and limiting his social interactions to very small playdates (one or two friends at the most) that were highly supervised we managed well. But preschool made it all just blow up. In no time at all every day I would pick him up and hear about how he hit a kid, threw something at someone, etc.

 

IMNSHO you have to view these behaviours as a response to stress. It's not about attention or making things predictable, so much as it is his way of dealing with a surge of emotions that he cannot handle. For my son it is almost always sensory-related, and it took some real experts (and my own trial-and-error experience) to figure out what some of the triggers were, as they can be almost invisible to people without those issues. Also, he gets stressed out with social interactions, which require a huge investment of mental and emotional energy (you wouldn't guess if you just watched him a bit), and he gets fatigued and frustrated and blows up. 

 

At his preschool, they took it seriously and got funding for a special aid to basically shadow him at the school. He never hit another kid again, but not because the impulse was gone, just that someone was there to redirect and prevent him from getting to that place of overload more often. That your school would consider "giving up" on him and booting him out is disgraceful.

 

DS is now 9 years old and it is still an issue. However, now he is attending an after-school program (we homeschool and preschool was his only year of formal schooling) at a centre for kids with autism, he goes twice a week for 3 hours. At first he was hitting kids pretty much every day, and during spring break or summer camps it got really bad. But they worked hard at figuring out what the triggers were, again mostly sensory-related, and I'm happy to say that he is going on two months now without a single incident of hitting. This is not so much because he is able to completely control his impulses (although he does get better and better each year, but it's a slow process) but because they have figured out his triggers and now avoid putting him in situations where he will blow up. Just being there is a hard enough challenge, and I'm very very pleased with his progress, but my point is that they looked at hitting as a sign that the environment was not working for him and they took steps to adjust it as best they could and make allowances for that. They saw it as a failing on THEIR part, not his. 

 

Having "that kid who hits other kids" has been an extremely challenging and painful part of my journey as a mother. I know your child is not a bad kid, and I hope that everybody involved in his care treats his hitting as a sign of stress, which it is, and uses it as a motivation to seek out what those stresses are. The more we adults figure out what those are, the better we can communicate that to the child, and the more the child understands himself the better he gets at self-diagnosing his moods and self-regulating. My son has made huge improvements in the last year because of this, and it has made our lives much less stressful too. Big hugs to you!!

 

PS - you might also consider this a sign that he is simply not ready for preschool, that it is too stressful for him, and pull him out. I would have done so in a heartbeat had the preschool not brought in the aid (he really liked going so I was willing to continue). Our decision to homeschool had already been made before he went to preschool, but if it hadn't I still would have done so because I could see that full time school would be way too much for him to handle and would have made everything a lot worse for all of us.


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#15 of 30 Old 11-21-2013, 04:28 AM
 
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While I see what you are saying, I don't think it is for other parents to have a say in how the teachers manage my son's behaviour. How they react to and manage my son's behaviour has nothing to do with how the teachers are responding to OTHER children. Ignoring my son's behaviour in order to promote a more positive pattern and reduce the effect on other children does not stop them in reacting with the requisite compassion and care for the other children. This is how inclusion works right? Special needs children require different styles and methods of education than other children.

My son is on the autism spectrum, and we dealt with a similar situation in K.  Basically, what I meant was that they either had to come up with another way to deal with it besides putting other children in the way of getting hit or it would be better if you took him out instead of having him get kicked out.  So, yes, I get inclusion, considering I have 2 kids on IEPs and one on a 504, so you're preaching to the choir here.  

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At his preschool, they took it seriously and got funding for a special aid to basically shadow him at the school. He never hit another kid again, but not because the impulse was gone, just that someone was there to redirect and prevent him from getting to that place of overload more often. That your school would consider "giving up" on him and booting him out is disgraceful.

 

 

Exactly what Piglet said here would be the best way to deal with the situation, so I'd push the school to support him, while protecting the other kids.  Like Piglet, having your kid be the "kid who hits" sucks, so if you can do something in order to help your child not be the hitting child, whether that be an aid, reducing stress, or simply giving him  more time before putting him in a stressful situation the better.  


 
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#16 of 30 Old 11-21-2013, 08:07 AM
 
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I'm just assuming since you are overseas and if this preschool doesn't work, there are no other options that the schooling options are very limited. Not all schools are equipped nor able to handle inclusion. While I do agree that other parents shouldn't be having a factor into how your child's issues are handled, if it is something like a private school not a school where inclusion has to be done, like a US public school, other parents will have input.

 

I've been on both sides of this fence, it's a very difficult to balance here. I've had the child that was granted access to inclusion in schools that have never done it prior (we've been here several times now) and I've had the child where another child's inclusion caused significant damage to my child because this classroom/school was not equipped to handle the inclusion. I know the feelings where you are so utterly grateful this your child be will "allowed" to go to school here and the utter rage because other child is smashing my child's face into the wall daily because of their behavior issues. This was obviously an older child then your 3 year old but actually the behavior plan called for ignoring the behavior. I am not ashamed of this at all but yes, I caused a stink about this. I lobbied heavily to have the child removed from the school after all my other efforts to change the situation failed. For the sole fact that there where NOT the resources to maintain safety, nor was it possible to create. When it didn't happen, I started with ultimatums, them or me. I took it to the level where there was no place else to go. And yes, I yanked all three of my children from that school as did several other families causing severe financial strain on the school. I can't even begin to describe how nasty it got. I don't regret it for a second, I would do it all over again. I feel sad for the child in the middle of all for it, but not at the cost of my own child's physical safety. 

 

And now I'm once again in the boat where I am utterly grateful to yet another school that agreed to take my SN child and to have inclusion in a setting where he is the only one with SNs. And I live in fear that something will go "wrong" every day and that we will burn our bridge with the only option we have left. It's a tough place to be in. If this school doesn't work, I don't know where he will be allowed to go. Public PK is very limited in my area even though I am in the US, he still got refused. They obviously can't refuse him for K but we are already having massive battles with the school district as far as what does K look like for a child like DS1. 

 

My heart goes out to you. 


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#17 of 30 Old 11-21-2013, 02:48 PM
 
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HI Expat-Mama, I happen to like the plan come up with by your specialists.  Often children who are sensory sensitive and sensory reactive organize themselves around reactions to their behavior and it can be oddly calming because it's predicatable.  You hit, you get chastised.  You'd rather he organize himself around positive reactions which are calming and give him feedback for modulating himself.  As long as "ignoring" his hitting doesn't mean just redirecting.  Did your specialists come up with a behavioral recognition plan for positive interactions, like constant positive feedback for keeping his hands to his sides, keeping his hands in his space,  using his hands gently, etc? 

 

I'm sure you've had the chance at this point to come up with a plan and I wish you luck in it's success.  I also have a "feeling" that cleaning his system out with the diet will also aid this process enormously.

 

I look forward to learning how things go.  I would hope that your private preschool is willing to give it a go and try to help him get through this successfully.  Unfortunately, in the world we live in, there are many young children they have either already met or will meet, who struggle with spectrum disorders and I hope that they will be more than willing to learn how to help him.

 

The other children, at three, are going to have "short memories" as long as he gets through this.  Really, despite the pain we parents go through when our child hits other children, and the worry we have as parents, three year old's often push and hit.  It's when they get stuck in an endless loop of reactivity that no social learning can be made.  The other children learn too, to be accepting, patient and understanding.  Sometimes "kids have things they're working on" would be what the teachers used to say about my son when he'd echo other children.  Your son's working on keeping his hands calm :)  In a child's mind, that's all they need to hear sometimes.

 

Good luck with your plans.  I too think it can work. 

 

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I lobbied heavily to have the child removed from the school after all my other efforts to change the situation failed. For the sole fact that there where NOT the resources to maintain safety, nor was it possible to create. 

 

I agree with this. I won't put my child in a situation where they can't handle him. It's not fair to him or any of the other children. I'm all for inclusion, but inclusion without the appropriate supports in place is bad for everyone involved.

 

I hope you can find a place that is able to support your son in the way he needs, OP. We have been feeling truly blessed to have our autism program, and DS has truly blossomed over the last few months...


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Just a quick update, we have put DS back on the GFCFSF diet and it seems to be helping a lot. The hitting and temperamental behaviour have all but stopped and he does seem more focused and "with it" lately. He is showing more of his sweet side and has made some surprising strides in a few areas in just a couple of weeks. I'm done questioning if the diet actually does anything. It seems to, so we'll stick to it even though it's so difficult and expensive where we live. We've also had some success with communicating and collaborating with the teachers and staff at his school. It's not perfect, but it's what we have and DS is happy there for now.


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#20 of 30 Old 12-07-2013, 05:17 AM
 
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Yay!!  I'm so happy to hear from you.  I was just thinking about you yesterday.  I know that sounds funny, on an internet forum, but, I so relate to the struggle of whether the diet helps or not and I was wondering how your son was doing.

 

My son has now been on the diet for almost 4 years and he's still growing and developing in amazing ways which I don't think would be possible without dietary intervention.

 

He's about to have a neuropsych and I think that the spectrum diagnosis will be dropped.  I'm curious to see what residual issues are clarified.  He definately has a learning disability of some kind, or the new social communication disorder which is actually defined as a language based learning disability.  BUT, he reads emotions now, can explain his feelings and is an A/B student with a group of sweet quirky friends.  He is on solid footing and I am so happy for him.

 

Take care, and I hope that he starts really enjoying preschool soon by making friends :)  I know he can do it.

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#21 of 30 Old 12-07-2013, 07:14 AM
 
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:joy That's wonderful!


 
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#22 of 30 Old 12-07-2013, 10:56 AM
 
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Such great news, expat-mama!

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#23 of 30 Old 12-07-2013, 12:08 PM
 
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While I see what you are saying, I don't think it is for other parents to have a say in how the teachers manage my son's behaviour. How they react to and manage my son's behaviour has nothing to do with how the teachers are responding to OTHER children. Ignoring my son's behaviour in order to promote a more positive pattern and reduce the effect on other children does not stop them in reacting with the requisite compassion and care for the other children. This is how inclusion works right? Special needs children require different styles and methods of education than other children.


I have a child "on the spectrum" also. However, she is quiet and passive, common in female children with Asperger's.

 

I do have an issue with "ignoring the aggression" and people saying that other parents should have "no say" in your child's behavior. They do if their child is being hurt! My youngest DD is very quiet and passive, a perfect victim for aggressive or hostile kids. When they hurt her, it effects her very negatively, puts her development at risk and hurts her feelings as well as her physical well being and causes HER to withdraw and insulate herself. Add that to being a child who doesn't like being touched, and you have a recipe for disaster. I can't imagine the Nursery School she attended letting an other child regularly victimize her and simply allowing it to happen. They didn't and never would have. She's in middle school now and bullying and super aggressive behavior is always dealt with immediately. I'm glad for this because not long ago these types of behaviors were "ignored" and quiet soft children were hurt repeatedly without anyone to speak for them and the aggressors never learned any other way to relate to people.

 

The child being hurt and his or her parents certainly DO have a say in what happens that may damage their child. Their child is no less important than any one elses.

 

I understand that you are hurting because of what is happening with your son, but the children who are being hit need to be protected because their rights to being included are just as important as his. I'm not hearing a lot of understanding about the children who were being hit. I don't agree "kids this age have short memories." My DD remembers people who were mean to her when she was 2 or 3 and she's 14 now.  My older children remember being hit or aggressively touched in preschool and they are 25 and 27! No short memories that I see. Small children don't understand "someone is 'working through' something, so you'll just have to put up with being attacked on a daily basis." I'm sorry your child is hurting, too, but he can't hurt others in the process of learning. It just isn't the way socialization works and it hurts OTHER people. Other people have feelings, too. And they are just as important as he is.

 

I'm glad the diet seems to be working, but if the hitting behavior returns I do wish you'd have the empathy for the child being hurt by him as you want everyone else to have for your child. It's only fair.


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#24 of 30 Old 12-07-2013, 01:03 PM
 
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In fairness to the OP, given that she's getting a lot of input about her son's aggressiveness and how it relates to the other children in the preschool, it IS very common for children to developmentally go through a hitting, pinching and pushing PHASE, especially in response to stress, confusion, and sensory overload.  It does not make a young 3 year old child a bully, an aggressor, or even hostile, as always, children at that very YOUNG tender age have not developed empathy for others so to confuse his behavior as deliberate is to misunderstand his developmental level.

 

It is not unusual for a child when beginning a school program, to be reactive in some way, either with separation anxiety or confusion. 

 

The concern for her child is that he not get stuck there but move on from this negative pattern.  She did not say, that the other children's feelings don't matter, but that how the school teachers handle the behavior would be different for her child, because what works for some children won't work for hers.  To react with emotion and chastisement only feeds the behavior.  To ignore it does not mean to allow it.  It is a method for eliminating behavior and is a COMMON behavioral technique. 

 

Parents of the other children can even be told of the technique if they have concerns, and if it doesn't work, of course they should be concerned.  The point is, to get the behavior to stop.  We live in a world where teachers need to learn how to respond and react to children with HFA.  For better or worse, the world is now full of children on the spectrum.  It is very typical that if you interfere with this feedback loop the behavior will stop.  This is good advise and important to remember that if followed all the children will be able to grow and learn together.   So, why is this bringing up so many negative experiences for other posters?  This child is only three and has two months of school under his belt.  There's a good plan in place, a mom willing to go the extra mile, and every hope for improvement.  Let's look at it for what it is and not project negative experiences any of us have had with our children in the past.

 

Only one more thing,  I applaud the OP!!!!!

 

When you open yourself up for advise and input from other parents it is very hard.  Your child was in crisis and you are trying your best to pull him out.  GOOD job!

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livinglife, you said: The concern for her child is that he not get stuck there but move on from this negative pattern.  She did not say, that the other children's feelings don't matter,

 

Actually, she nearly did. ExPat Mama said: I don't think it is for other parents to have a say in how the teachers manage my son's behaviour. How they react to and manage my son's behaviour has nothing to do with how the teachers are responding to OTHER children. Ignoring my son's behaviour in order to promote a more positive pattern and reduce the effect on other children does not stop them in reacting with the requisite compassion and care for the other children.

 

Only AFTER those children have already been not only hurt, but felt they were not protected by the very people who should have been protecting them!

 

IF no one is getting hurt, of course, ignoring behavior won't be a problem. But, to ignore aggression, when people like my daughter are getting hurt is simply not right. I wasn't "chastising" simply saying that the children who are being hit have just as much rights as the child who is doing the hitting. The school cannot, in good conscience, allow one group of children to be harmed, in an attempt to see if it will stop one child's aggressive behavior who may be "going through something."

 

As a mother of three kids with 504 Plans, two with Tourette Syndrome, two with ADD and one with Asperger's I know how frustrating it is to have children who are "different." However, I would never expect my child to be allowed to hurt other children, and be ignored while doing so, as part of their "going through something." There are other children involved here, and they need to be protected.

 

Please read my ENTIRE post and then tell me how my empathy and care for the children who were being hit was somehow off base.

 

My sympathies go to all children, but as mine are often the ones being victimized, I have to give the children being hurt a bit of attention and empathy as well.

 

Having the teachers of the school start "Ignoring" a child's hitting and other aggressive behavior MEANS the children being hit is being subjected to unfair and cruel treatment by not being protected by the adults who are enlisted to provide that protection. I just wanted to speak for those children.... as my kids were often those kids, until the hitting, bullying etc was stopped.

 

As for that type of behavior, one of my kids was a "biter." Granted she was only 18 months old, and it only happened in an intense situation. I was doing child care for a community field house. I was the mom doing the child care for the other children while the other mamas took their exercise class. There were too many children in too small of a room, my DD Moon reacted by biting other children. It happened once, and we thought it was a fluke, when it had happened 3 times, I felt awful for the children she had bitten and apologized profusely. I cried every day and felt awful for those other children and realized I couldn't expect other children, and their parents, to be allowed to be hurt.  I quit the job and my DD was taken out of the child care room.... and the biting stopped immediately. (She bit a little friend once during the days I was working there, but it never happened again once I removed her from the situation.) I didn't expect the other mothers to simply allow their children to be bitten because my DD might have been "going through something." She was going through something... a room with too many kids in it at an age where she wasn't ready to share her Mama with 25 other kids. She wasn't ready for the situation, nor was the situation a good fit for her. I removed her and the behavior stopped, never to return. I'm not saying the OP's situation may be as easy to remedy, just asking that she have the same empathy for the children being hurt as she wants others to have for the child who is hurting them.

 

It really sucks to have your child being the one who is acting inappropriately. It's sometimes comforting to try to find ways to explain it away, without taking into account the feelings and experiences of the other children in the situation. Sometimes the child is simply to young for the situation, or the situation isn't right for that child, but in the long run, the protection of the children being hurt trumps the child "going through something"  being allowed to continue to hurt others. Or at least, the other children shouldn't be expected to be allowed to be hurt repeatedly, until one other child may or may not resolve whatever the problem might be.

 

What about the other children in the preschool? Do they not count?


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There's so much emotion in this for you Maggie LC.  I can hear how hard this is for you to write about in regard to your children. 

 

But, in reading through the OP's statements I am not reading them the way that you do. 

 

I am comfortable with a behavioral approach.  Children who are "reactive" can not have their negative behavior reenforced.  I think what may be tripping you up is the use of the word "ignore".  A limit is being set by adults when this child who is acting out physically is moved to another location.  The "ignoring" is then, not ignoring the occurance of an unsafe behavior, the ignoring is the lack of discussion about the situation because this discussion "feeds the behavior" and causes it to reoccur. 

 

How will that lead the other child who was hurt from believing they are still unsafe?  Discussion and time outs are considered ineffective in creating change for a child who needs a behavioral approach.  Would it make the child who was hurt feel better to see the other child get a "time out"?  Will it please a parent that there was some "consequence" for the behavior?  

 

These are notions of justice and fairness.  They don't really fit the situation.  I don't really know what else to say.  I'm sure we all have stories about how our children were targets in some way or who were at fault in harming another child.  I know I do.  Having special needs makes a child especially vulnerable to other's aggression and likely to be the cause of aggression to others.  I am sure that the OP does as well.

 

 

 

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There's so much emotion in this for you Maggie LC.  I can hear how hard this is for you to write about in regard to your children. 

 

But, in reading through the OP's statements I am not reading them the way that you do. 

 

I am comfortable with a behavioral approach.  Children who are "reactive" can not have their negative behavior reenforced.  I think what may be tripping you up is the use of the word "ignore".  A limit is being set by adults when this child who is acting out physically is moved to another location.  The "ignoring" is then, not ignoring the occurance of an unsafe behavior, the ignoring is the lack of discussion about the situation because this discussion "feeds the behavior" and causes it to reoccur. 

 

How will that lead the other child who was hurt from believing they are still unsafe?  Discussion and time outs are considered ineffective in creating change for a child who needs a behavioral approach.  Would it make the child who was hurt feel better to see the other child get a "time out"?  Will it please a parent that there was some "consequence" for the behavior?  

 

These are notions of justice and fairness.  They don't really fit the situation.  I don't really know what else to say.  I'm sure we all have stories about how our children were targets in some way or who were at fault in harming another child.  I know I do.  Having special needs makes a child especially vulnerable to other's aggression and likely to be the cause of aggression to others.  I am sure that the OP does as well.

 

 

 

 


Thank you for listening to what I had to say.  :heartbeat   Yes, I feel emotional, because my children (and myself as a child) were sometimes targets for those who tended to act aggressively. I know myself and my two older children often felt unsafe in certain environments, because aggressive children's behavior were left alone, ignored or not "seen."

 

My youngest child was emotionally and then physically attacked by a neighbor's grandchildren, after playing together several times. The fact that neither the mother nor the grandmother seemed to think anything of it, and expected them to be allowed to play in our yard, after my child had come into the house crying (after being hurt)  astounded me. My husband had to kindly tell the children they would have to leave our yard, as they had made Sage cry, and she was in the house and that treatment of others was not allowed in our yard. They didn't get it, and as no one would intervene (I assume their behavior was "being ignored" by their mother and grandmother) they yet again were kindly asked to leave... and not asked back. Sage expressed no interest in those children the next few times they were next door at their grandmother's house, and I honestly don't blame her. She never blamed them, just said, "I really don't want to play with them, Mama." Her wishes were respected, and I can say, after parenting for 27 years, Sage's reaction is very common for children who have been attacked by other children. The end result, if adults do nothing, is eventually the child who hits or uses unkind words ends up with no one to play with. I hardly think the OP wants her child to be in this position, yet even if the adults do nothing, the children themselves will naturally not want to play with a child who makes them feel unsafe.

 

I would remove my children from any environments where they felt unsafe (and I wish I had been removed sooner from an unsafe environment as a child.) I can imagine the parents of the other children in this preschool may feel the same way if their children are allowed to ever be hit. Not to mention what the effect on the OP's son would be if he is allowed to hit others.

 

I would never want the OP's child to be punished! bigeyes.gif No, I hope I didn't convey that idea. I don't think punishing a child who is acting out is helpful or conducive to healing or learning at all!

 

When I think of this child "being ignored" I'm imagining his being allowed to hit the other children and nothing being done to protect them from the assault in hopes that this will eventually extinguish the behavior. In the meantime, other children are feeling unsafe, unprotected and losing trust in the adults who should be protecting them and even eventually not wanting to be in the company of the child whom they cannot trust with their feelings. (I hope that makes sense.)   But, I think several posts may have conveyed by lack of detail, that this very thing may have been suggested, if not carried out. I hope this isn't what is happening.


A way to distract this little boy before he starts hitting in the first place and perhaps ignoring his attempts to hit people is one thing (while removing him so he cannot continue attempting to harm others) allowing him to hit other children without preventing him from hurting others is an other. I see no reason to over discuss the behavior, either. I have seen to many parents talk their kids half to death about "what you did" and rarely see any improvement from this technique.

 

I'm not sure what is being done to ignore the behavior AND to protect the other children from attacks. Being attacked by a peer can be very upsetting to many children. I remember my children telling me the story over and over when someone at preschool  (or school) hit them or hurt them, and I know how deeply it offended them and made them feel unprotected. My husband and I don't hit our children, and I don't want anyone else to, either. I think physical impact is detrimental to growth and health.

 

I detest physical violence and I can't see allowing a child to be violent, and then simply "ignore" him and hope the behavior will go away. If that isn't what is planned, then I would certainly want to hear the plan for changing this behavior without sacrificing the safety and trust for their safety of the other children in the environment.

 

Maybe if I had an idea of what this "ignoring" is, it would help. I can understand not reacting to violence with more violence, that teaches no one anything. But, what can "ignoring" do to keep the children who are not hitting others safe, while still doing what needs to be done to help the OP's child?

 

My thought were perhaps he's simply too young for the preschool situation, not yet mature enough for it, or this particular school is not a good fit for him. If it's stressful, and he's hitting, then maybe either waiting until he's older or choosing a different environment for him would be to his and the other children's advantage.

 

But, if there is an other way, that doesn't allow the other children at the preschool to EVER be hit by him, then what would be workable?

 

I do appreciate your reading what I had to say. Thank you.


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#28 of 30 Old 12-07-2013, 06:24 PM
 
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I think, MaggieLC, you just have to trust that the OP, when consulting with her experts, got a good working plan that she's confident in.  To me, when you consult a psychologist and a behavioral specialist, you are doing the best you can do for your child.  That's the opposite of ignoring a situation.  Nor did she seem unaware of the impact of her son's behavior on others because she is even willing to institute an expensive and hard to maintain diet to bring about behavior change.  To me it is another example of not ignoring the situation.

 

I think it would be fair to say that you are very sensitive about this but it is also fair to the OP to not attribute ideas or motives to her.  We all come to parenting with our own personal baggage and may also have hurts from when our children were not treated as well as we would have hoped.  Believe me, I am no stranger to that feeling either! 

 

But, going back to my original premise when I responded to expat-mama, I strongly suspect that the gf/cf/sf diet will clear her son's emotional reactivity and encourage his openness for healthy interaction with the other children.  I've seen the diet do the same for my child.  We can't underestimate the importance of gut and digestive health in healthy emotional and social development. 

 

I continue to think very positively and please, Expat-mama, let us know how everything turns out in another month or two.  I wish for the best.

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And I just wanted to add MaggieLC, that my son remembers incidents of being hurt by other children too.  (Yikes, another boy once tried to set him on fire with a lighter....can you believe it??) But he also remembers how the situations were handled.  I think that's the key to remaining emotionally unharmed.  He remembers being heard and listened to by grown ups, he remembers the apology from the other children and the times he has been tempted to hold a grudge, it is a good lesson for him in tolerance, as his "imperfections" and emotional ups and downs have caused him to hurt other children's feelings too.  He wants to be forgiven and to be seen as a good person.  The trick is being able to rise to the challenge of overcoming his own strong emotions not to lash out, and realize other children have the same struggles some times.  It doesn't mean you take it....the opposite, but forgive it from the safety of the adults protecting you.  That's our job, right!  I can tell that you take that job very seriously.  

 

Blessings.

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#30 of 30 Old 12-07-2013, 07:32 PM - Thread Starter
 
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I haven't been getting updates for this thread and didn't know it had sparked such a discussion. TBH I haven't really read the last few posts (I plan to when I have a moment) but I have skimmed and get the gist of what ppl are talking about.

 

I just want to make clear that when I said that we (including my son's therapists) were advising the teachers to "ignore" my son's hitting behaviour this means not to give a normal reaction or punishment as they would to other kids. This was very reinforcing to my son and only served to INCREASE the behaviour. This doesn't mean they weren't taking any action to prevent the behaviour and prevent triggers to the behaviour and take all the OTHER measures to eliminate and discourage the behaviour! It also doesn't mean that the other child in any altercation would be ignored or not attended to!!! Sheesh.

 

*sarcasm* Yeah, I just wanted the teachers to let him go on a slapping rampage, ignore it, and say screw the other kids. 

 

Of course the other kids matter! I never said they didn't. What I was saying is that other parents don't get to determine what methods of behaviour modification the teachers use on MY kid because what works for him doesn't work for others! So while it may make other parents feel better that if my kid slaps yours that the teacher makes a big fuss about him doing it and sends him to time out, it will only make my kid slap your kid again and again. 

Anyway, if anyone cares, my son hasn't been acting out in this way for about 2 weeks now since we changed his diet and the measures that we have been taking at school and at home on the advice of the therapists have worked. And for the record, no children were seriously harmed (and no parents pissed off) in the process. :eyesroll 

eta : I'm sorry if your kid was hurt by another (my kid has been too!) but don't paint my son into a "violent, hostile, aggressive, problem child" box.  It would be just as easy to paint yours into a "weak, emotionally unstable child" box. I won't tell you how to manage your child's behaviour and I don't need you to tell me how to manage mine.


Me dreads.gif 32, loving him fuzmalesling.gif33, more each day. Rad boy, jog.gif 7/12/10 & Cool gal baby.gif  4/28/13

I'm a biracial, atheist, humanist, pacifist, anarchist, bibliophile, and educator. Rainbow.gifgd.gifwinner.jpgnocirc.gif

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