I am a single mother and I am in need of help or advice. I have a 3 yr old son that was just diagnosed with pdd nos. He is currently attending an early education daycare but he is being very aggressive with the other children in his class and with me. I have no idea how to stop this behavior, Currently he is biting, pinching, grabbing, pulling hair, shoving and pushing. This past month he has recieved 19 incident reports this month. And I am afrid that its going to get worse. He is can be a very sweet little boy but then there are time that he can be so mean where anything and everything makes him become aggressive. There are no behavior therapist where I live so I dont know what to do to help. I will appreciate any advice anyone can give me thank you...
Is your son is a special educational daycare? If not, could it be that he isn't able to cope in the present daycare? Do they have any experience of autism, or any of the difficulties that you son has. How is his speech and communication. What is he like with social interaction, sharing and taking turns. If he doesn't understand these concepts he is going to get angry when another child tries to share his toy or join in, or when it is time to put toys away to do another activity etc.
It is good that he has a diagnosis at such an early age. My son was very unhappy at nursery because he couldn't/didn't want to join in and was made to comply. He wasn't diagnosised for a further 2 years.
Do you have a clear picture of his cognitive ability as well as his strengths and weaknesses to enable you to be confident that he is in the right educational setting?
My son is 31 months old and doing the same thing...being very agressive. We do not have an actual diagnosis yet, but we know that it is a spectrum disorder. We have found that anything that he perceives as agressive in any manner really sets him off, so we really try to watch the tone of our voice, how we say things, etc. He gets very upset at school too with sharing, noises, etc. No punishment works either...it just makes things worse. I do not have any words of wisdom but I did want to say that yo uare not alone, and I hope that things get better soon.
When my son gets very upset/angry I simply take him to his bedroom and tell him he needs to calm down. When they are in that state you cannot talk to them as it only adds to their anger/distress. Touching or hugging them can also make them worse. So I tell him to stay in his room to calm down. Then I go back in 7 minutes (approx a minute for each year old they are). If he is still upset I leave and go back again in 7 minutes. Eventually he will be calm and I can talk with him about what happened and what upset him. For very young children this is harder especially if they are on the spectrum and aren't being taught things like sharing or transitions yet. (Transitions is learning to cope with either starting or stopping doing something). How can you tell them off about a concept that they don't understand. You cannot punish for ignorance. You wouldn't punish a blind person for not being able to see. You would show them other ways to cope. If they then did something 'naughty', ie. they knew what they should have done, but didn't, then you can punish. No child is being naughty unless they have a concept of what they should have done, but chose not to do it that way.
You would want professionals to be working on this and to be telling you how to do the same at home eg. how to share etc.
Quoting Sally44: "You wouldn't punish a blind person for not being able to see. You would show them other ways to cope. If they then did something 'naughty', ie. they knew what they should have done, but didn't, then you can punish. No child is being naughty unless they have a concept of what they should have done, but chose not to do it that way."
So nicely stated!
I used to get so tired of people telling me that my DS just needed a "spanking". Anything that he considers agressive flips him out, and it was always like he never "gets it" with the time out...plus I would literally have to velcro him to a chair to keep him there. I am not an advocate of "spanking" anyway...how can someone tell a child that it is wring to hit and then expect them to differentiate when they are hit by the parent, KWIM?
DS will just follow me and throw himself at my feet sometimes when he is having a tantrum. With DS inability to calm himself it has made it very difficult to decide what to do with him at all...like I said for him time out never worked. I have tried to do like Sally said and just put him in his room and leave him for just a few minutes, but he would run out and throw himself around everywhere.
We do a variation of putting him in his room...the ped suggested that I go in the bathroom/my room and close the door and tell him that I need a break because he is too upset. I tried it and now all that I have to do most of the time is tell him that I need a break so that he can calm down...and he screams "no, don't go...I hold you". We use the bear hug to help him calm down most of the time...but sometimes like Sally says it does not work either.
I think the important thing to try to get across to the child is that they are having time out to calm down, and not as a punishment. So I will tell my son, 'you are very upset and you need to go to your room to calm down'. When I return he might say something like 'I can't control it, I can't stop the feeling'. So I might get out a toy for him to play with but again remind him 'you are in your bedroom because you are very upset and you need to calm down'. When he has calmed down, we can talk about what happened. For example he got very upset after having watched TV for a couple of hours, his father wanted to change the channel. All hell broke loose. He was telling us that we were mean to him and that we were a bad family and that he was going to leave and live with his friend and watch TV all day long. When he had calmed down I explained to him about sharing and taking turns with the TV. I told him 'if you watch TV all day, we don't get a turn, and that is being mean to us'. He was totally devastated by that and started saying he was a bad boy and that he would never see the TV again etc etc. So, when they don't have a good 'Theory of Mind' it is hard for them to see things from another person's perspective. My son is 7 and we have all done alot of work with him. Your children are much younger and will have even less understanding of spoken language.
What my son has told me about his tantrums is that he 'cannot control it'. So regardless of the situation he gets totally overwhelmed by emotions that he cannot bring under control. He also says he 'cannot stop it'. So regardless of how insignificant the situation appears to us, he cannot stop that flood of emotions.
Time out to calm down (not as punishment), and re-directing are the best ways to use. As they get older you can start to use emotional faces to show them their emotional state eg. when you are like this (angry face), you need to calm down. To calm down you do ............... (could be things like deep breathing etc). But again professionals should be teaching you how to do this at home and in school.
I know alot of this sounds impossible when they are at a young age and you just have a child that collapses into a screaming/crying/hitting/biting rage that neither you or they can control. But with time it does improve.
Regarding spanking. I try not to. I have occasionally when he has driven me to despair or is trying to do something dangerous. But apart from 'how can they learn not to hit others if we spank them', there is also the question 'what are they feeling'. If they are oversensitive to touch then it will really hurt them, and if they are undersensitive they won't even feel it.
Whatever you decide to use, you must be consistent. They need routines and rituals and this is a way that you can use that to your benefit. Infact it has been shown that some autistic children are 'naughty' in school or home just so they can cause the predictable outcome they want. If their day is not structured enough with a schedule and a timer etc then getting sent to their bedroom might be predictable and more re-assuring to them then having to put their coat on and go shopping with mum. Does that make sense?
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