Thank you so much for your post. My name is Susan and I am a Son Rise Teacher here at The Autism Treatment Center of America. We are so excited to read that Timothy is communicating using his language!!!!
I celebrate you for really looking out for some clues to get a deeper understanding of what your son may be trying communicate in the above describe circumstances. These detective eyes are helping you get the valuable information to best help your son when you think such behaviors are a mystery. We want to ask the questions; What happened before, during and after the mysterious shouting and running after he asks for runs and kisses.
Before we turn to Timothy let’s first look at the assumptions that are being made about his feeling of discomfort. We really do not know the actual feeling that Timothy is having during these times. You suggest that he is “annoyed, angry, agitated,” when really all we know is what he is doing, screaming and running, not what he is feeling. It is important for you and your team to see the behavior of him running and screaming is just a form of communication that we really do not understand the meaning of because he has not clearly told us “I am really annoyed with you.” If we attach the described emotions to these circumstances it most likely will have an impact on how you and your Son-Rise volunteers respond to him. You want to see these moments as an opportunity to help and teach Timothy be more clear.
Based on the information you are giving me about after he verbally tells you kiss and or massage here are some ways to adjust how you offer it to him.
It may be that he need some more warning from you that you are about to respond to his request. The request of kissing or massages does suggest he will have another person come in direct contact to his physical space. Also, by what you are describing with this need to lock onto you during some transitions in certain space, he sounds to have a level of tactile defensiveness. To help him develop a deeper trust in us for these circumstances we want to be especially predictable, controllable and calmly loving. When he asks for the kiss or massage, vary your celebration of his language. Try a gentle whisper or a gesture with a smile and nodding of your head. Open your arms up for him to come to you for a kiss or offer your hands out for him to come closer to you for a massage. Tell him to show you where he would like the massage. If it’s his foot then explain to him, “ I want to make sure your ready for the massage so you can put your feet in my hands for the next one.” We want to give him an opportunity to tell us with his body he is ready, so look out for cues of him leaning into you vs. us pouncing on him when he asks for kiss or rubs.
If he screams, then sweetly explain, “ I am not sure what that means, you can show me or tell me “no” if you do not want something. “ You can offer an alternative in his response to his language of saying kiss, by grabbing a toy or puppet and have the puppet kiss you a few times and if Timothy is interested you can offer him the next puppet kiss.
In terms of the corridor I suggest that you try some of the following techniques to help with such transitions. Really look out for his cues. It sounds that he is seeking a lot of control. Maybe he wants you to hold onto him in a very specific way. Let him guide you on how to support him. Set up your environment so that it can give Timothy maximum amount of control. Light up the corridor, maybe place some tape or feet on the floor so it can give him a place to focus. Try placing yourself in front of him with your arms extended, like you would do with a newly walking child. If he screams or whines, calmly let him know that he can show or tell you “no,” that you are not sure what he wants when he yells. Acknowledge him in celebration when he shows you or tells you vs. when he screams. Sometimes our children on the spectrum are unclear where their bodies end and begin in space, so that can lead to a level of defensiveness or uncertainty in his space maybe leading to a high level of alertness. During these transitions we want to be highly predictable presenting our delight in a calmer more digestible way. For example, when celebrating or explaining do it in a calmer voice vs. a bursting loud one. It sounds as if Timothy could use a sensory diet to help him regulate more for his future transitions. I encourage you to look into some simple sensory techniques you can try in your Son- Rise Playroom. You can find out more about heavy work and regulation through the HANDLE Program and the Alert Program. Here are their website http://www.handle.org/
. There is useful information on both sights that you can access at no cost.
Please let us know if these techniques help or if you have any questions about it. We are cheering you all on.