Wednesday, March 13, 2013


Behaviors, behaviors, behaviors....That's the W O R D in the autism world. What is behavior?  Its any observable or measurable act by an individual.  It the response to some stimuli.  I am in grad school right now to become a Board Certified Behavior Analyst and everything we learn is about behavior and the antecedents and the consequences.  Up until now, it has all made sense because I am simply learning about behaviors from a book or clinicals that I am reviewing online.  Jacob hasn't had many behaviors that need changing so far.  We have just primarily been focusing on his adapting new skills and working on communication. 

Recently, however, Jacob has started engaging in some seriously distracting behaviors.  He is obsessed with opening and closing doors and drawers.  Wait...before you say "My child used to do that, or I know a child that does that".... This is not like the typical child who sees an open door and really wants to close it.  He will run from door to door in the house in a frenzy opening and closing the doors, making noises and very upset and then open and close the drawers and then run back to the door and open and close it and then back again.  This will go on for up to an hour, back and forth with no easing up.  If you try to stop him he will scream and contort his body all around in a panic.  If someone is looking in the fridge he pushes the fridge door so hard it hurts and if you don't let him close it he gets very very upset.  In fact, we were at a birthday party the other day at my sister's house in which the kids were coming in and out of the house and he was so obsessed with the door and eventually got so upset we had to leave.  He is also doing this during therapy time.  Additionally, he has started squealing during therapy when Mindy is instructing him so he doesn't have to listen to her. 

So what have I learned about changing these behaviors?  Not much yet.  I know that redirecting and giving different options works best.  Sometimes a parents instinct is to discipline, but when they are seeking to meet a particular need and you just discipline, it doesn't give them the option to fill that need in a more appropriate way.  That's about it.  We have studied behavior, how to define it operationally, and how to graph and document it, but not how to change it yet.  So I asked Mindy.  She said that I need to get those baby doorknob covers on the doors that lead to outside and the upstairs doors.  This will allow me to monitor just the downstairs inside doors to help him.  She said when he is in his highchair I need to open cabinets to let him see them and not let him close them.  I also need to redirect him when he is opening and shutting all the doors.  She said I can't allow him to do it.  Here in lies the problem.  He physically won't let me hold him long enough to keep him from closing and opening the doors.  He just moves in all sorts of crazy ways crying until I let him down and then he goes right back to it, or he acts like he doesn't care so I let him down and then he runs and closes it.  HAHA I have no idea what to do about the squealing during therapy either.  Jacob seems to be getting a bit more aggressive and irritable.  We haven't changed his diet or anything, he is just starting to act out a lot more.  Obviously, it could be that he is getting older.  It just appears that he is having a harder time, though, as well. 

This weekend our family will be on a mission trip with our church.  I wanted to ask for prayer.  Particularly for the mission trip and that it would be a success and God would be glorified.  Secondly, we will be staying in a hotel which will be very hard on Jacob.  He usually can't sleep much for than a few hours when other people are in a room with him.  Also, blitzing and BBC will be hard on him.  When there are a lot of people around that he isn't used to he usually has meltdowns or starts engaging in his repetitive or self stimming behaviors.  However, I didn't want to let this hold our family back from doing what we know God is calling us to do and neither does my husband.  I just would love prayer for our family and that a peace that only God could give Jacob would fill him up.  Please also pray that we can figure out some of these behaviors and get them under control in the future.  I realize this isn't as serious as some of you have to deal with, but for us, challenging behaviors are only just beginning.  I will also be in prayer for those of you with children that engage in behaviors that are hard on them and the family.  I also have heard many people are really struggling with insurance nightmares right now and do not know what to do or where to turn.  God is in control.  I will be praying for peace and understand and guidance for you.

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