Hudson Valley Parent

HVP March 2018

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Page 16 of 39 n Hudson Valley Parent 17 angry, that's when he would start swatting me. While his therapists and I worked diligently on teaching signs and simple gestures, the hitting continued. And it seemed the more I said "Stop hitting" the more he hit. Our Early Intervention teach- er recognized that I was actually providing a negative reinforcement. Meaning, by constantly saying "stop hitting," I was actually putting emphasis on the unwanted behavior. While it seemed counterintuitive, the new phrase I had to learn was "hands down." Instead of acknowledging the unwanted behavior, I could now put emphasis on the action I did want him to repeat. It's strange to find phrases that said the positive rather than saying "No" and "Don't". Counting on coffee, Tylenol and flexibility Another technique I learned was to simply ignore him when it was apparent the sole purpose of the behavior was to gain my attention. For a while, my son would scream at the top of his lungs when he was upset. It's nearly impossible to pretend not to hear glass-shattering shrieks. Those days required a lot of extra coffee and Tylenol. But it worked. Eventually he realized the screaming wasn't helping him get what he wanted so it eventually faded. It's so tough to raise a toddler on the spectrum. They have a double whammy of growing pains: part sensory overload and part regular toddler tyranny, and a lot of the time I can't tell the difference. So I keep trying new things, new ways of helping him grow and express himself appropriately. On the days when I can think straight, I remember that flexibility is the one of the best mommy super-powers. Rielly is a part-time writer and full-time mama to an adorable toddler with autism. Her favorite hobbies include naptime, drinking coffee, and trips to Target. ®

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