Hi Magicharp -
It is so wonderful that you are asking such a great question to support Sophia and those that are close with her! So many of the lovely children that come to visit us at the Autism Treatment Center of America act or have acted in similar ways to which you describe. They are communicating to us in the best way they know how, just as Sophia is communicating with you and those around her. She is communicating as a way to express what she is wanting and trying out different ways of getting those things for herself-- to take care of herself. What can we do to help this process?? What an excellent question!
A great way to think of this process of helping Sophia is actually looking at the ways in which we are responding to these different ways she is communicating with us. For example when Sophia expresses herself in this intense way, are you "lighting up like a Christmas tree"? (This phrase is something we playfully use to describe ways in which we react to our children - We raise our voices, jump up or move more quickly, and sometimes use more facial expressions in our reactions, etc. In each of these ways we are the most attractive button to push!) She may be looking for one of these reactions from those around her. Also too, she may be looking for the most direct and fastest way of getting the thing she wants, and knows when she is acting in an intense way- you move faster. There are many possibilities as to why Sophia is acting this way... By looking at ourselves and ways that we react we can actually help and guide her in communicating with us in other ways! Isn't this great news!!
Here are a few things that you can try out with Sophia when she acts in this way:
-Try lowering your reaction and energy (e.g. moving slower while still remaining helpful in seeking out what she is looking for in that moment)
-Use explanations to share another way for her to tell you what she wants (e.g. "I dont understand what it means when you pull my hair or bite me, try using your words to tell me exactly what you want and then I can help you even faster, by knowing exactly what you are looking for.")
-Offer an alternative (e.g. give her a chewy toy for her mouth if she is biting, or offer her some sensory input as she may be seeking out some pressure somewhere on her body)
-And my very favorite ---Remain calm and loving yourself as a way to best help Sophia and yourself through this process.
These a just a few of so many wonderful and useful techniques! Please take a look at our webinar on -Challenging Behaviors- to help you even more. Please let us know how these tools and techniques work out for you and Sophia, so we can help you through this journey!
Warm Regards and Son Rise Hugs!
The Son Rise Program ™ Senior Child Facilitator