Saturday, October 9, 2010

Addressing Challenging Behaviours in Children With Down Syndrome

Looks like we need to start talking about our children and their Challenging (to say the least) Behaviours. As a parent, and a blogger, I think it would be good for us as a community AS A WHOLE to talk about our children's behavior. If anything it will only help us understand our kids, and I know it will personally comfort me and other parents to know that I am NOT the only one dealing with an exceptionally difficult child.

To start things off, I will share an article that my father found online for me one day when I called looking for my MOMMY, but she wasn't home. It was a good thing he answered because some days, it's better to talk to a less emotional , more Logic and Reasoning, kinda person. Not that my mother ISN'T logical and reasonable, but I AM NOT logical and reasonable when talking to her. Regardless, here is a link to the article. Addressing challenging behaviour in children with Down syndrome: The use of applied behaviour analysis for assessment and intervention

It is a very in depth paper and not something that is easily perused.

As I mentioned in an earlier post this week, I have a girl who comes to the house to work with Hunter 5 days a week now. She plays with him for 2 hours a day and is there specifically to help me work with Hunter on certain Challenging Behaviours.

First I will give you a run down on some (certainly not ALL, because I would be here all night) of the behaviours that Hunter is doing regularly.

~When Hunter is not given what he wants he will get angry and throw himself on the floor and smash his upper body backwards so as to smash his head on the floor. (Clearly he figured out that when he is hurt mommy and daddy come running)

~Hunter yells constantly and when asked to be quiet he will not listen. He shouts everywhere we go. On the bus, in the stores, EVERYWHERE. The bus driver the other day mentioned to me how he was being pretty quiet today.... I didn't think so. But I guess, comparatively he really WAS being quieter.

~He can not be left alone for any real length of time with his sister. He impulsively smashes her on the head, drags her around by her legs(which she actually thinks is quite hilarious), pushes her over or tries to undress her and remove her diaper.

~Hunter will RARELY take no for an answer and due to his lack of understanding and reasoning, giving him an answer is most often pointless.

~Hunt will not leave any clothes ON. He will not wear pants, shirts, diapers, pull ups, or anything on his body for any length of time unless it has been Hunter proofed, Read - Duct taped. 90% of the time he spends in zip up one piece sleepers that are either on backwards or taped across the zipper to keep him from taking off his clothes. If I DIDN'T tape his clothes on, I would spend my whole day cleaning my carpet and chasing him to put his clothes back on.

~Hunter has little to NO attention span and just runs from one toy to the next at an alarming speed. This is extremely challenging in that he is VERY difficult to contain for more than 3 - 5 mins or so. Anything beyond that and he will get very frustrated and angry. Sitting still for more than one or two pages in a book is completely unheard of in my house. Because of his lack of attention span, Hunter will not cooperate with a lot of tasks that are asked of him, like sitting still to have his shoes put on or waiting for his food.

~Hunt does not look or THINK about where he is going. In 2 and a half years, my son has had at least 4 black eyes, mostly because he just RUNS full bore into things. I can't seem to get him to slow down at all. I ask him to go slow and LOOK before he does things but he is constantly injuring himself by being careless.

~Hunter obsesses about certain things and he can't seem to be diverted from these obsessions very easily. For example, the diapers. The moment we put a diaper on him, he reaches for the Velcro tabs and starts pulling at them to take them off. There isn't even a SECOND where he will just wander around with clothes or a diaper on when he WONT instantly start taking them off. Even when his clothes ARE duct taped on, he will spend half the night trying to get them off. The telephone is another object that he obsesses about. No matter how many times I tell him NO you can't have the phone, he still points at it and asks over and over and over again in his own little Hunter way. "Neeh! Neeh! Neeeeeh!" Point Point Point, Signs please over and over and over again. Point point point "Neeh! Neeh! Neeh!" (We aren't sure what "neeh" means but I think it might be him trying to say please.

~The tap in the bath is yet another obsession and he WILL NOT FOR THE LOVE OF ALL THINGS HOLY LEAVE IT ALONE!

~Glasses are of course a challenge but that seems to be coming along with the help of Coleen.

~Hunter will not remain seated in any sort of Stroller, High Chair, Car seat, Shopping cart, ride on toy, or any other SEAT unless he is completely strapped in with a proper seat belt or harness that he can NOT undo. He is very good with buckles, zippers, belts and clips. I have booster seats that have little trays on them which I use all the time with Phoenix but I CAN NOT use them with Hunter because he will not stay in his seat. He just wants to climb out. I still use his old baby high chair with the five point harness to ensure his safety when he is eating.

~As I mentioned, Hunt is very busy and very curious, but do to the fact that he does not listen, cooperate, pay attention to where he is going or even have any sense of fear or danger (except loud noises like trains, that scares him), I can not let him have free run of the house. This causes exceptional behaviour issues with Hunter because he is pretty much forced to spend most of his time in our living room, which we have set up specifically for him. We have to maintain the baby gates at the bottom of the stairs and between the living room and the kitchen. This is strictly for his own safety at this point.

~Additionally, because he has ZERO attention span, he is VERY hard to entertain. He also does not play with things the same way other kids would. If I give him washable felt markers, he just wants to take the lids off then put them back on. On and off, on and off.... all day. If you give him a Tupperware bowl and a lid... he is in heaven. I struggle to find things to keep him busy, such as little projects, drawings, puzzles, books and such. He has no patience for any of that.

~Lastly, If MOM has asked me to do it... I'M NOT GONNA! If dad says NO, then it means NO. If Mom says no.. it means do it harder, faster and more furiously till she gets to me! ( I KNOW... That's totally Typical Two year old boy)

These are some of the things I contend with everyday while trying my hardest to not lose my SHIT!

I know that some of them are totally normal, while others are just so beyond annoying and not typical of a 2 and a half year old.

Ironically.. a friend of mine said she wished that some days her daughter could just be a "stereotypical child with Down syndrome," .. all smiles and cherubic. Frankly, I think this is TYPICAL of all kids with Down Syndrome, and anyone I have ever talked to who has raised a child with Down syndrome would probably agree. Stubborn, hard headed, determined and FIXATED! If only we as parents can work together to help each other out!

So this is where I ask YOU for your input. What kind of challenging behaviors do you deal with and how do you cope? How do you try to change them?

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