Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Self Damaging Behavior Update

I took some time last week and categorized all the posts on Adventures in Raising a Disable Child. There is now a topic-based index on the right side. So when visitors are looking for information on Eating, Sleeping, Mobility or some other specific topic they can hit that link and see all the posts I've made pertaining to the topic. It will also help me track which topics I've been ignoring and need to write more about.

For example, I haven't said much about my daughter's behavior for quite some time. I mentioned before that she had issues with biting her hands and wrists in frustration when she couldn't communicate her needs to others. This subsided completely when my daughter learned enough basic sign language to tell us when she was hungry, thirsty or tired.

But we've come a long way since those days. Now my daughter gets frustrated when she asks me to put on a Signing Time DVD, turn on her electric keyboard, or go out back to play and I tell her no. I always explain why she can't do something and that she can do it later when there's time. But it rarely prevents her from being frustrated.

Depending on the level of frustration, she reacts by hitting her chin or cheek with her hands or she'll launch into a full fledged crying fit. In the case of the crying fits, my wife and I have been using time outs in an effort to control them. Once she's isolated in the other room, my daughter realizes that the tantrum is useless and she'll stop. Once or twice she has quiteted down, come to find us and then resumed the tantrum. (Which is pretty funny, really, but we'd better not encourage it.)

This seems relatively minor compared to other 1p36 parents who have described very severe biting, hitting, banging heads on the wall and even vomitting fits. Several parents with children in situations like these have used a behavior therapist to help get things back under control. They report good results and I'll have to keep the suggestion in mind if my daughter's mild hitting and short tantrums become a bigger problem.

I'm no doctor but it's puzzling to me how a piece of missing genetic material can predispose an individual to harm herself when she's not getting her way. It's kind of like a super terrible two period built right into the kiddo. I'm grateful that our case is minor, and I'll keep reporting on this since it is one of the more major aspects of raising a child with a disability.

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