Let’s talk about breakthroughs and when challenging behaviors present with your child who has autism and developmental disabilities. Jaiden has lots of challenging behaviors and what that looks like is being disobedient, screaming, spitting, kicking, throwing himself on the floor, biting, pulling hair, scratching himself and there maybe a few more I can’t recall.
Back in the day like 1700’s they had what were called norms of behavior where there were rules and norms of society and for those people who did not follow the norms of society they were called misfits. A long time ago, they would place the misfits those people that couldn’t follow the common rules of society, in separate places to live in the so called asylums. How crazy is it to think about that they placed people with criminal behaviors, intellectual disabilities, dementia, and schizophrenia all these people were bunched into asylums. I read that in the 1800s they began to separate the criminal individuals from the others and then eventually the mentally ill was bunched in with the people that had intellectual disabilities, however they still kept all of these people secluded from society. It wasn’t until they discontinued mental hospitals and institutions for people with intellectual disabilities in the 1980s where things started to change.
What happens now when our children with autism and intellectual disabilities have breakdowns and a first episode of psychosis? What do you do as a parent? I can tell you a little bit about how it’s been for Jaiden and how hard it is being a teenager with all that he has going on. Jaiden has a lot of stuff going on because his hormones are fluctuating all over the place, he’s 13, nonverbal, has seizures and is on medications. So of course he has frustrations right?! His first episode of so called psychosis was December 2019. The look in his eyes changed he screamed repeatedly, not any of us could help him calm down and became combative.
What we did as parents was made sure he was safe from harm, we were safe from harm and called the psychiatrist left a message for him and then called the emergency room for psych intake nurse. We spoke with a nurse who basically left another message for the psychiatrist to call us as it was an emergency. That’s pretty much it. His meds were changed and he was stable within three days. I know it’s a lot for some you to take in, but I feel who better to take care of Jaiden then his parents. It was hard, but we helped him manage and you can do the same for your child too.
I’ve been reading the wonderful book by Bo Hejlskov Elven “How to make behaving positively possible for people with autism and developmental disabilities.” He explains that nobody with an intellectual disability ADHD or other developmental difficulties are referred to diagnostic assessments and treatments because they experience problems themselves. The actual reason for the assessment is because someone close to that person has difficulties handling the person in question. Ouch! When I read that I was guilty and frustrated because there have been times where I have reacted when I shouldn’t have. We know that some of these behaviors our children have are very hard to change.
We have to except the responsibility and we have to be motivated to help change the maladaptive behaviors. If the responsibility is placed within a professional person helping your child, and they accept the responsibility then the probability of problems disappearing will improve greatly as well. We have seen this with Jaiden too. We have to find methods to change it and I know that there are some behaviors that are not OK. I totally understand that, trust me, Jaiden can get into some dangerous behaviors like slapping, hitting, kicking, biting, and pounding. I can also talk to you about behaviors that are difficult but not dangerous such as him being disobedient, him biting himself, him literally digging in his underpants and sniffing his fingers things like that are disobedient, but not dangerous. So how do we deal with these things?
I’ve been working with some great behavioral therapists and one thing that I have learned is that you can’t remove a strategy for difficult situations without replacing it with a good one so you always have to find a better strategy in the long run. We have to learn how to endure these behaviors and work with the causes we have and step in immediately when they’re disobedient, when they are abusive, and dangerous. We have to figure this out as their parents.
It’s so much easier to blame other people too because we don’t know what to do with our children. Trust me, I was like that about a year ago and was blaming everybody but myself and what I’ve learned is I didn’t want to lose power over my life. I’ve had grandparents tell me just give me a few months and you’ll see I’ll change him, but that kind of thinking is not the right kind of thinking because my Jaiden with all of his disabilities doesnt need a schedule lots of candy and scolding or punishment Jaiden needs structure and also needs to be present with his difficulties.
I know that if Jaiden can behave he will behave I know that it’s hard because he lacks communication skills that we have, he lacks patience that we have, he lacks flexibility. Jaiden will get into a state of anxiety and react because of not being able to be flexible with certain things. I have learned a lot about Jaiden, a lot about myself, and brain development. I’ve graduated with a psychology degree, but as a parent to a child with severe special needs I don’t think I’ve learned particularly too much. I have attended lectures, conferences on mental health and adults with autism. I have learned a lot about dealing with behavioral problems and I also worked in and out a group homes, in a behavioral health unit, but even with all of these things I am still a parent and I still have a child with behavioral difficulties.
I have a wonderful behavioral health team in place for Jaiden, however I still need guidance for how to understand and deal with behavioral difficulties and it is rarely given from a psychiatrist. You will get explanations of this medication or that medication, what works what doesn’t work, what may work and what may not work, therefore we use a lot of working methods and a lot of non-working methods. It is frustrating so I will tell you yes I have experienced lots of problems because I have not had a lot of methods that are necessary to help to deal with Jaidens behaviors therefore I have to learn methods and take responsibility and work with my child who has special needs and I want the same thing for you to.
I can literally go on and on and I don’t wanna do that because I know that you don’t have much time because you’re a very busy parent. I get it. Hope this rent helped you a little bit with your teen with screams and everything in-between. Please check out the autism stress less podcast and click the link below to see the top 20 autism podcasts I’m number 11!
“I’ve commanded you to be strong and brave. Don’t ever be afraid or discouraged! I am the Lord your God, and I will be there to help you wherever you go.”Joshua 1:9 CEV
Today on the podcast: https://anchor.fm/molisfam/episodes/Breakthroughs-Teens–Screams-And-Everything-In-between-efgfpu
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