As an educator, I often do workshops and trainings for other teachers. Since becoming a mom of 2 children with special needs, a majority of my trainings now focus on including children with special needs in child care settings, and creating successful opportunities for children with special needs. I find these workshops to be very rewarding, and if they make a difference for even one child, then it is totally worth it!
Way back before children, I was asked to do a workshop titled, Working with children with challenging behaviors. Back then, I could not even have dreamed of some of the challenges I would be faced with as a mom, but I did a lot of research to prepare for the workshop, and over the years I have presented this workshop at least 20 times.
As I prepared for this workshop, one of the things I read has always stayed with me. I couldnt tell you the source anymore, but I can visualize the page, and think of the text often. What was written was the following:
"For a child with challenging behaviors, if their behavior allows them, even just once, to get away with something, or allows them to avoid doing something they are asked, then they will continue with the negative behavior with the hope that it will again get them what they want."
This is probably the most true statement I have ever read in regards to Matthew. If getting loud and out of control will help him to get what he wants, he will get loud and out of control. If he sees anyone who will help him to get what he wants, he will seek out attention from that person as a way to get his need met.
Please, don't misunderstand. I do not think that Matthew is coniving on purpose, but I do believe that often for Matthew his need to get what he wants, outweighs his need to do what is right. He has a nack for reading people, and quickly can work any crowd.
If I have said no more food, he will find someone who will give him food.
If I have said it is time to go, he will find a way to strike up a conversation with someone so he can stay a little longer.
For every person who "helps" by giving matthew what he wants so as to avoid a tantrum, it is just one more time that I have work that much harder to prove to Matthew that what I say is the rule.
For Matthew to learn anything, it truly has to be taught at least 100 times. However, if I have stuck to a rule 99 times, and just 1 time matthew finds a way around the rule, or is offered a bribe for better behavior, I essentially have to start with that rule again, and do it another 100 times.
Like everyone else, I would love to avoid Matthew's tantrums. Like everyone else, I would love to give Matthew all the treats and treasures of childhood. However, in my hopes to help Matthew understand rules, to be healthy and to gain the skills he will need as he grows older, I have to prioritize and handle the tantrums now, with the hope that they will become less as he gets older because he will have learned to respect the boundaries that are set.
Please remember, as a child with special needs, Matthew does not learn the rules of interacting with people like other children do. While it is funny that at the age of 10 Matthew goes up to strangers and asks for a taste of their ice cream, at the age of 20, it will not be cute, it will not be funny, and I may not be there to help him understand why this is inappropriate!
It takes a village to raise any child, it takes a village especially to raise a child with special needs!
- I am a single mom of three amazing boys! All three of my sons entered my family through adoption. All three of my boys have developmental disabilities. My oldest son, Matthew has been diagnosed with Fetal Alcohol Syndrome and Bipolar Disorder. David, my middle son, has a genetic condition, he has a duplication on his 15th chromosome which leads to autism like symptoms, seizures and learning challenges. My youngest son, Jacob has learning disabilities. Each of my children bring unique challengs to our family and also bring their own personality and joys to our everyday life!