Understanding why

I recently wrote about a day of  challenging behaviours at the beach. One of the difficulties when dealing with behaviours in a child with communication difficulties is understanding why. If you don’t understand why something is happening you can’t deal with it, or help in anyway. But if your child can’t talk, well you have a problem. You learn to analyse behaviours and look for triggers and patterns.

So we went to the beach again. And had exactly the same pattern of behaviours. Archie was relaxed, until we were about a mile away from Bigbury when the shouting and hitting started. Once again Archie was talking/shouting about going to Ireland. The talker helped understand what was being said. “Monday surfing, Thursday Uncle Stephen, Saturday Granny and Grandad Ireland, go ferry”.  Finally the reason for the behaviours dawned on me, it’s almost a year to the day since we travelled to Ireland, and the above is what we did that week. Of course I couldn’t remember which day we’d surfed, or travelled, but luckily amongst the clutter found last year’s diary and yes he had remembered correctly.

Archie’s memory is extraordinary. Using google maps he has shown us he clearly remembers places he last visited when he was 2 (he has, for example, corrected me when I have found the wrong house on google maps). But this memory can cause problems particularly because he can get very stuck in particular thought patterns related to things that have happened in the past that he would like to happen again. This is hard for him to deal with and painful for us to watch. In the case above his memory means that he knows it’s nearly a year since we travelled to Ireland. I barely remember my wedding anniversary each year, let alone what I did when. Archie can’t forget. Add in some teenage hormones, and a dose of obsessive-compulsive thoughts where he can’t stop thinking about Ireland and we get a mini eruption with each beach visit. I’m hoping that once we have had the anniversary of the trip he will calm down. In the meantime, now I understand the reason for the beach-trigger I will talk to him more about trying to think of something else (this has worked before). Understanding why we’re getting the reaction has made me feel more positive about helping him remain calm.

Once Archie had got over thinking about Ireland he had a pretty good surf at Breaking the Barrier with Jon, and again visibly relaxed once he was in the water. Breaking the Barrier had its usual happy atmosphere, even the rain obliged and held off. Archie is getting pretty good at standing.

The swell wasn’t great. The waves were a decent size although weak, but Archie managed to persuade Jon to give him a tandem ride as well.

4 thoughts on “Understanding why

  1. Loved your post for a couple of reasons. I love the photos! The surfing program looks fantastic and of course, I relate to the issues you talk about with challenging behaviour. We’ve just had a beach holiday too and though our on our last trip my boy was straight into the water, fully clothed, this time he didn’t want to go too close. He’d panic if he thought I was trying to get him to go in (I wasn’t!) but he did have a wonderful time walking between the surf lifesaver flags. He’d go from one to the other, touching a logo on the flag stand when he got there, then turning around and heading back. He walked for miles, but really enjoyed it too.

    • Archie refused to set foot on the beach (any beach) for a few years, then one say went straight in with his clothes on. Now we can’t get him out. He does that back and forward between objects thing as well (although not so much these days, thinking about it, you’ve just made me realise he’s sort of let that go). We call it patterning. Love your blog btw – have followed!

      • It’s funny how something that you’ve been dealing with for ages somehow fades into the distance and they’ve taken a step forward without you being totally aware of it. Thanks for the follow. I’ve got to grab some time to read more of yours!!

  2. Pingback: Castle gone | A Life Unlimited

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