This week at the Autism treatment center of America we have an 8 year old girl with Autism! We are so excited to have her here and have spent the day really studying her, celebrating her, joining her and getting to know every delicious inch of her personality. I will let you know more about her as the week continues.
In my last blog on Intense Energy I talked about the different reasons our children may hit, bite, pull hair, pinch, punch or kick us, and an attitude to adopt when they do this. In this blog I am going to talk about some practical things you can do to avoid getting hit/bit or having your hair pulled.
1. Learn to recognize the signs.
2.Get out of the way.
As you read this don’t forget to smile! So often when professionals or parents talk about their children hitting, biting kicking they get a really tight expression on their faces and talk in serious tones. Feeling easy and loving when our children are communicating in this way will be very important in helping them change .
1. Learn to recognize the signs.
Once you have recognized the circumstances when your child hits/kicks/bites etc you know when they are most likely to do it. For example do they tend to hit you when you have just said “no”. Or do they tend to pinch and bite when they get really excited, or just after they have really tensed up their bodies. Once you know this you can:
Get of of the way!
2. Get out of the way.
If you know that you are going to tell your child that they are not going to get something, and that they often hit you when you do this, then before you tell them “no”, step out of the line of fire, and keep out. Some of you may think to yourself, well “of course”, but often times when we are uncomfortable we forget to do the most obvious things. I have often seen a student or a parent have their hair pulled by their child, and less than 10 seconds later they kneel down and put their head and hair in easy grabable distance from their child, and their hair gets pulled again.
I work with this fabulous mother and her lovely 18 year old young adult who has autism and down syndrome. He has a tendency to grab hold of her hair and pull it with all of his might when there are a lot of transitions in his life. Given that sometimes she was not able to calculate easily when he might do this, I suggested that she wore a hat that covered all her hair. Just doing this simple thing helped her feel easy when working with her son, and when he went to grab her hair he only got her hat and she had time to move out of the way, he now pulls her hair so much less.
If your child is older and bigger than you or nearly bigger than you and kicks if he cannot communicate his own wants easily, when you see this beginning to happen, move away and slowly position a large therapy ball/or cushion between you and your child. This way if he does decide to kick, your can easily hold the ball in-front of you so that he can only kick the ball verse you.
If your child has a lot of sensory challenges, she may show you that she needs to release some of her energy by jumping up and down more, or tensing her whole body. When you see this offer to squeeze her hands, arms, feet and legs. Experiment with different pressures, often times our children really enjoy deep pressure. By offering them a squeeze you are helping them release their energy before they get to the stage of biting or pinching you.
When I work with young children who bite when they are excited or when whey are seeking close physical contact from me, I will have a small squishy ball in my pocket, so that I can offer them to bit the ball instead of me. I will also put padding underneath by t-shirt on my shoulders, so that I can give big deep pressure hugs to children who may need this kind of sensory input without being concerned that they might bite my shoulder as I do this.
More blogs on “Intense Energy” to come
Much love to you all