I’ve decided that my last Discipline post should be elaborated on, because I got some really great comments there.
The first thing parents of children with sensory issues have to decide when they’re confronted with a situation they need to deal with, is if the behavior the child is displaying is sensory/compulsive (no, those two aren’t usually synonyms) or if it’s something he has control over. Consider this carefully because this is how you decide your next action, which you want to be appropriate, I’m sure.
Our house is pretty chaotic because if MeMe’s vestibular and proprioceptive dysfunction. He cannot control the amount of noise he produces- talking, singing, banging, kicking, every part of him is always moving and noisy. I’ve learned to treasure the quiet after-hours, when finally…. he’s sleeping. Believe me, I’ve tried to get him to keep quiet or still for a few minutes. It’s been years and NOTHING’s worked. When MeMe’s not home for a few hours (barely ever), we all notice the difference in the noise level. Obviously, this is not something MeMe can control, therefore it isn’t bad behavior, even when I’ve asked him for a little quiet and he’s “disobeyed.” He simply can’t help it.
Practice does make perfect though, and so when he’s crashing and thudding instead of walking, I will ask him to please go back to where he started from and walk this time. Or if he’s slammed a door shut (no “if” there, it happens all the time!), I’ll ask him to go back and close it gently. We practice being gentle. If he’s impolite, I teach him how to say whatever it is the right way, and we practice. It’s slow progress, but this is the only way to teach these children because they don’t understand with the other ways.
Practice is also easy on the parent and easy on the child. Once I learned to simply re-do the behavior, the frustration and annoyance I had building up inside me, vanished. Gone were the time-outs, threats, punishments, etc., which didn’t work anyway, except to diminish his fragile self-confidence. Gone was the negative atmosphere (I so hated) from my home. Yes, my migraines remained but I needed to figure out a different way to prevent that from happening. Someone suggested earplugs. 🙂
Here is the important thing to realize though: Not every method works the same on every child. It is important to have some general guidelines as to what do to if your child does x, but all of the methods need some adjustments and tweaking to fit a particular child, and many methods won’t work at all with some children.
I know that the time-out method does work for some children with sensory issues, helping them to regulate their behavior. I know that for other SPD children, just the idea of going to a place where they’ll be alone results in increased anxiety and meltdowns. You really have to know your child. I also know that if I say the same sentence to two of my children, one of them will stop what he’s doing, and the other will be encouraged to do it again.
My biggest beef is with parenting “experts” so many people turn to for advice who are outdated and haven’t at all experienced the world I (and fellow parents of children with sensory disorder) live in. These “experts” who consider being sensitive a personality fault instead of a handicap. They leave no room for bio-individuality, every child must be the same and must conform to the same rules. They consider the new medical disorders of ADD/ADHD, sensory processing disorder, etc. to be the result of bad parenting.
One of these “experts” publicized his view in an article a year or so ago. I haven’t heard he’s changed his mind since. I’d like to see that accomplished in my lifetime!