Stop biting behavior in an SPD/ASD kid?
May 13, 2014 11:29 AM Subscribe
Our young (<6) child has sensory processing issues, and is lashing out physically when she is overwhelmed. We don't want to pull her from a generally beneficial school, and she's already in occupational therapy, what else can we do to stop the aggressive behavior?
posted by anonymous to Human Relations (11 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
(Sorry for the length - trying to be complete)
Let me say first that this kid is AMAZING - funny, sweet, cuddly and cognitively gifted, and thoroughly adored by her parents. She's been reading from an early age, and has no problem expressing herself, or thinking through complex situations to the point where adults often assume she's much older than her real age. The specialists we've seen have waffled back and forth with whether she'd qualify for an autism diagnosis, with phrases like "she's not far from the spectrum, but not clinically on it."
She is not very good at handling extended social interactions, particularly with peer groups. And the sensory processing issues are a clear problem. But here's the main thing- if another kid bumps into her, takes a toy, or even just prevents/delays her from getting what she wants, she can completely lose control. It's like a blind rage. It used to be "just" a tantrum where she threw herself around and flung things or kicked indiscriminately. But now she will hit or bite whomever is closest to her, clearly aiming to do maximum damage. She is unbelievably remorseful once she's calmed down, and even shocked at her own behavior. Sometimes she doesn't seem to remember what happened. She also accepts punishment (e.g. losing privileges) and seems to feel genuinely sad after. It's a literal Jekyll and Hyde situation.
How do we stop the hitting and biting? Occupational therapy wants us to work more on the sensory processing triggers, and I get that, but the biting NEEDS TO STOP NOW. We can't reason with, or even discipline her, when she's in one of the rages, it just heightens her panic level. And she promises resolutely not to do it again when she's calm, but I don't think she can exert that control even though (if?) she wants to.
In addition to gentler methods, we're willing to assign punishments/consequences, and being strict parents in general. We also use strong firm voices to dissuade behavior that seems to be heading to a bad event. (Basically, it's not like we're running around meekly whispering "no no precious")
I'm crying myself to sleep at night, and I'm useless at work - it breaks my heart that this gorgeous human being is being sabotaged by some internal trigger switch. I am devastated every time she asks for friends, and every time the other kids avoid her, but I can't blame them. Please tell me anything that you can think of, we so badly want her to have the chance to be around other people without the constant fear of an explosion.
(One request - please don't offer suggestions that inherently involve aggression themselves. As many of you likely know, shouting at an SPD kid or engaging in corporal punishment is pointless and in our opinion, cruel.)