AUTISM TREATMENT CENTER OF AMERICA®

Turn Around of a Tantrum!

Turn Around of a Tantrum!

FROM BECKY: Last week I was working with a lovely family in their home and going into their Son-Rise Program playroom for the first time with their incredibly cute little guy called Sid who has just turned 3!

This was his second time in his new playroom with someone he had never played with before. As soon as his Mom left, he began to cry and whine. The crying and whining soon turned into screaming and throwing himself on the floor as I started explaining that I loved him, wanted to help him and that the door was going to stay shut for the next couple of hours.

I wanted to help him know that even if he cried, it wasn’t going to bring Mommy back any sooner. I loved him, accepted him and knew he was doing the very best he could to communicate something to me. I remained calm and comfortable, slowly offered him things from the shelf, squeezes on his feet, or to sit with him and give him a hug.

I noticed that whenever I would talk to him or focus my energy on him, he would escalate and cry and scream more. Taking that into consideration I decided to take my focus off him. It seemed like he wanted to cry and was doing it to soothe himself in some way.

I still wanted to have fun myself, as that is one of the reasons of being in the playroom. So I got a Thomas the Tank Engine book and some stickers, gave him some space to work through it and let him know that I was there and ready to play whenever he was done.

I sat and quietly read the book and focused on loving him and having fun on my own, The minute I took my energy off him, his crying decreased and in fact, the more I enjoyed myself, the quieter he got, until eventually, he couldn’t resist it anymore but to come over and check out what I was doing.

As he showed an interest in my Thomas book, I began to pull off one or two if the smiley face stickers and excitedly stick them on different characters on the book, Sid started to smile and get more interested, so next I stuck a sticker on my face. He was very interested in this and came to pull it off, as he pulled it off I made a funny popping sound by smacking my lips and bringing attention to my face by letting out a delighted giggle.

This evolved into a beautiful 20 minute game of me sticking stickers on my face and him chasing me around the room and pulling them off to get different fun sound effects. The connection was incredible as we belly laughed and chased each other. I was able to work on eye contact and interactive attention span, simply by connecting and having fun with my little friend.

If your child tantrums in the playroom and they seem to escalate as you try to help them, experiment with giving them space, creating an activity of your own and see what happens. It’s not a bad thing that they cry, it’s just a way of trying to get something across. Your child will work through it in their own time, while still learning that it’s not an effective way of communicating.

Have fun!

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