Q&A Session 1

Q&A Session 1 with the Director of The Son-Rise Program, Bryn N. Hogan

Topic: Throwing and Screaming

Q: Dear Bryn,
After the January Son-Rise Program Start-Up training in Rotterdam, we came home and started our own program the very next day. It is going very well. Eye contact has increased every day. He is making contact by taking us by the hand and then leading us to the things he wants. In the past contact with water was a major problem for Luuk. All it took was a little water on his little finger and he would scream like hell. One day my wife, Paulette, went with the other two kids to the swimming pool. I stayed at home with Luuk. After a while I said to Luuk, “We are going also”. I had a feeling that this time would be different and it was. We went into the kid’s pool. No tears! I pulled him down to sit next to me. No tears! I start wetting his belly with water. No tears! We went into the deeper part of the pool. No tears! And after half of an hour we had to put swim-aids around his arms because he was pushing himself off from the side of the pool into the water and he was having the greatest time of his life. In the morning when we open his bedroom door, the first thing he does is run into the playroom. In the beginning we used to have to lock the door but this isn’t necessary anymore. So everything has gone very well. But, a few weeks ago he started throwing things around. Everything he can reach has gone flying. We’ve tried everything, but we failed. He seems very angry. When he is throwing things around he is screaming. The eye contact is gone and he is very difficult to reach. The first thing that we thought of was a “mode”. You talked about that in Rotterdam. But can this go on for weeks? We also thought of a nutritional problem, but he is eating the same things as before. When he started throwing things, he also started having problems taking his medication. Do you know about a study between autism and anti-epilepticals? We asked our doctor but he said that this was impossible. We still don't believe him. Hopefully there is an answer for our problem. We are also looking forward to October when my wife and I are coming to the Institute to take part in The Son-Rise Program Maximum Impact: Advanced Training.

With warm regards from Holland,

Name: Max and Paulette H. Country: Netherlands Child: Luuk, 5 years old Diagnosis: Autism, Developmental Delay, Epilepsy

A: Dear Max,
Hello - forgive me for the delay in responding, my schedule here at the Institute with families (as well as my own Son-Rise Program) has been incredibly full and I apologize for the delay. I was so excited to hear how well all has been going... good for you! Here are some suggestions regarding handling the throwing:

  • Be aware of how people are responding to it. If those around him (yourselves, or your volunteers or helpers) are feeling uncomfortable or frightened or frustrated when he behaves this way, he may actually do it even more. Watch how you feel - remember that he is doing the best that he can, and take a few deep breaths and “relax” once he begins to do this. Even simply stand still for a moment and observe him. Also, look for ways in which he may be getting what he is wanting faster by throwing things: Do people move quicker when he throws? Does he somehow get food, attention or toys faster? It is very important to look at how you have been responding, so you can then change this.
  • Always be aware of moving even SLOWER when he throws things. Rather than beginning to speed up how you respond when he acts this way, actually slow down your responses so that he sees this is not the most useful way for him to get what he wants.
  • Offer him soft toys or pillows and tell him, “If you want to throw, you can throw this” - so he does have a direction in which he can put his extra energy
  • Explain to him, in a very relaxed way, “I don't understand what you want when you throw things. If you use your words or look at me, it would really help me.” Then, if he speaks, or tries to speak, or looks at you, you RUN to the shelf and offer him different items. In this way we show him that throwing does not help him to get what he wants, but rather eye contact and speech are much more effective.
  • You can also get something soft as well and throw with him to see how he might respond to this.
  • These are some things I have seen work incredibly well with what you are describing and you can try them immediately. I have also seen a “mode” last weeks. If this is why he is doing this, it is ever so important that you remain relaxed and “stay the course” with the program and trust he will most likely move through this way of communicating (if you have other questions, you could call and perhaps a consultation would help you further??)
  • I hope this is helpful. Why not try these ideas and then let us know how it goes.

My greatest hopes go with you,

Bryn

Q&A Session 1