Tips and Tricks: Behavior

Oh boy oh boy have we had some increases in undesired behaviors from ALL of our children during this wild quarantine time.  This tells me a couple of things: we are all stressed, adults and children alike. 

Adults are pretty good at knowing what they need to feel better: a snack, a run, a shower, screaming into a pillow, listening to music.  These all fill some sort of sensory need.  I tend to like to go for a run. Maybe my body needs sensory input with the pounding on pavement. Maybe I need to be outside where it's quiet.  I'm not fully sure, but I do know that I tend to feel better afterward. 

Our "neurotypical" children also do a decent job of letting us know what they need.  Though during this time, we might not be able to give it to them (socialization, taking a trip, seeing friends...all things that are hard to come by right now).

Our children (and adults) with ADHD are having heightened symptoms. Did you know that emotional dysregulation is a symptom of ADHD?  This is true for both males and females.  Females tend to "fall apart" and males tend to "blow up", but both behaviors can occur in either gender. 

Our children with autism are feeling especially anxious.  They thrive on routine, predictability, consistency.  The pandemic has brought us none of that...and it has been a hot mess at our house!  Thankfully, I have been able to find and create some resources that have helped within our household. 

First, for our neurotypical children and adults: make sure you have some sort of schedule in place. This could be a simple to do list, a planner, a calendar, etc.  For our children (and adults) with ADHD, offer a little more visual support and plan to change things up often.  I've found my children with ADHD get used to one method of keeping track of things, then it disappears...they enjoy and thrive with novelty.  Some things that have worked: The Brili App, the Cozi Calendar , Alexa routines, and old-fashioned block schedules (checklists). 

Now, for our dear, sweet boy who has the most on his shoulders: Lucas.  We have needed more for Lucas.  A LOT more.  He has been wild.  He is clearly not getting enough sensory input (he lost OT, swimming lessons, school, time with a care worker, etc.).  His body is letting us know that he is wired to go at all times of day.  There are holes in his dry wall. He has "beavered" around his bed with his teeth.  He has jumped naked in his bed with his clothes spinning on the ceiling fan.  Oh what fun!!! Throwing has always been an issue, but lately, whew.....

Here are some things I've put into place that have helped little Lucas (who has autism and ADHD). 

A schedule.  This is a must.  I've gone on and on about schedules before, but I'll say it again.  VISUALS VISUALS VISUALS.  Kids today are just plain visual learners.  I tend to think visuals are for nonverbal kiddos, but really, they're for us all!  You can read more about visual schedules and how to use them here

I have a set of visuals in a bundle on Teachers Pay Teachers. 
Ultimate Visual Schedule Set

I've also put together many resources to teach children what TO do.  This is hard sometimes.  As parents, it's instinctive to yell "no" and "STOP" all day long, but this becomes ineffective pretty quickly.  There are lots of options to use at home and several one page and book-style social stories on things like biting, throwing, etc.  I've also added some visuals to help with general communication (again, remember that even verbal children might need visuals to help express themselves).  These include sheets on feelings and sheets that have pictures to help cue "I want ___". 
Behavior Bundle (A Growing Resource)

My son has really enjoyed Boom Learning games.  I had a hard time thinking of a way to make behavior into a "game", but I did manage to turn a social story I Can Take Care of Things (no throwing) into an interactive "game".  You can find it here:

Hang in there, guys. This is really, really hard.  We can't get a break from each other within our household right now and that just plain wears any of us out, kids and adults alike.  Parents of all children are weary and those helping children with special needs are especially worn thin.  

If you look on Teachers Pay Teachers, I have lots of visuals that are free.  Let me know if you need something specific.  We might all be in the same storm, but we aren't in the same boat. I'm happy to help in any way I can.  

P.S. I'd like to give a shoutout to the makers of  Smarty Symbols.  They have been incredibly responsive in helping me to put together some sheets for basic hygiene and acts of daily living.  Their customer service has been wonderful; when I didn't find what I needed....they made it for me.  Can you believe that?  Definitely take a look at their work and website.  

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