Tuesday, February 3, 2009

I Scream, You Scream, We All Need A Better Way...

    Tallen's progress is coming along so fast, I can barely keep up with it! To see it all on paper, you would never believe that the child that I present to you today, is the same child who was present 2 years, 1 year, or even 6 months ago. 

     Tallen was a screamer.  Some days were worse than others, but every day was bad. If you have never lived with a child who's main form of communication is  screaming, you cannot even begin to know what a mental assault this is on everyone else in the home. I really reached a point of thinking it might well send me to the mad house. I prayed, "God, I cannot take this anymore. Please, please, please, help me get through to him. Help him talk to me!" Sometimes, God answers prayers, not by fixing the problem, but by giving us the ideas, tools, and a little more patience, so we can fix them ourselves. 

    I realized that we just had to stop catering to him. Living with so many females and having special needs, had basically guaranteed his being coddled and babied. I realized one day that we weren't requiring him to ask us for anything. He would start his ear piercing screaming and we would all make a mad dash, trying to locate what he wanted. I explained to the girls that we must stop this and gave them suggestions on how to handle the screaming situations. For the next few weeks, (yes I said "WEEKS"!") whenever Tallen started screaming for something he wanted, we continued with the old routine of trying different things, until we found what he wanted. But, as we gave him the object, His blue truck for example, we would say, " Tallen, next time, just say,' I want my blue truck.' " We also made a point of letting him hear us asking each other for things in the proper way.

   Eventually, we stopped responding to his screaming at us and only got him the object he wanted, when he used words to tell us. When we saw him "winding up" for a fit, we'd quickly ask, "What do you need, Tallen?"At first his answers were one word. If, for example, he asked for "milk". We would smile and reply, "Oh, You would like some milk! Thanks for using your words, Tallen!" I know this may seem sing-songy and dramatic. But it was really important for us to mirror back to him  what he was asking for and to praise him for asking in a way that we could understand.   At first, if it was safe for him to have and was on the premises, we gave him pretty much whatever he asked for. lol We were just so happy to finally have the communication with him. It was a long road and a lot of hard, repetitive work, but the screaming is a faint memory. Like any 5 year old, he has a tantrum on occasion. But, after what we have endured, a few screaming, stomping, fits every now and again are nothing...

   He wasn't screaming to be mean. He really just needed to be taught how to communicate. I liken it to being dropped into a foreign country, where you don't speak the language, and can't make anyone understand what you're saying. Everyone must seem so distant and uncaring. But, once you learn the language, once you can make a connection, everyone one seems warmer a friendlier to you. I really think that must be how Tallen felt. He didn't enjoy these episodes anymore than the rest of us. But, even with his advanced vocabulary, which one would think should make communication easy for him, something in his brain just would not cooperate and let him talk to his own family. I didn't, still do not, and may never know just what that mysterious "something" is. The best I can do is work around it. Try to outsmart it and do my best to pull my son from it's grip.

2 comments:

Amanda said...

What an amazing trial. I'm so glad that you were all over to overcome it and open the lines of communication for him. Congratulations! I'm sure it has made life so much easier for you all.

tara @ kidz said...

I'm so glad you've found something that is working for you! We're starting speech therapy in a few months, and I'm beyond anxious to get any sort of help I can in this dept. I've been recommended a couple of books, which I have purchased but haven't had a chance to read yet. I don't know if they'll help you, but it might be worth considering. "Love and Logic for Special Needs Children" and "Magic 123." I can get the author names if you need those too, just let me know. Best wishes that this positive trend continues!