Tink says “Thank you”
Ask Tink: “hold ball” Tinks holds ball, “tags” rewards Tink with a crisp and I think I heard what sounded very like a thank you.
Head Banging Abolished
I’m happy to report Tink has displayed no head banging in quite a while now. I never stopped her doing it. She stopped doing it when I started to reinforce incompatible behaviours. Behaviour goes where reinforcement flows.
Why I no longer care if people stop and stare
Last month we were out shopping and Tink was getting hungry, so we popped in to cafe to have our lunch. Tink was getting so hungry and frustrated because she was hungry. The volcano irrupted. Yep you got it, the thing that most parents and carers have to deal with frequently MELTDOWN! This one was of epic proportions and would have given Mount Vesuvius a run for its money. So I started to use the TAGteach I had been shown, tagging and reinforcing incompatible behaviours during the meltdown. Things like quiet mouth, arms by her side etc. I was reinforcing these positive behaviours with a small baby hair brush. (Tink has sensory proccessing problems and often she would seek things that helped her to calm herself.)
As I was doing this and tried to tame the meltdown, I was very aware of people staring at us – you know the stares, the ones that look like villains from super hero movies that shoot lasers of scorn at you that pierce your very soul and make you feel like shouting “WHAT ARE YOU STARING AT ?” Well one lady across the cafe was staring quite a lot. I could feel her eyes intruding on our personal space and making me feel very uncomfortable but never the less I had bigger things to worry about. I tried to ignore these intrusive stares and carry on helping my daughter to calm so she could eat her dinner.
Eventually the meltdown subsided and Tink was able to eat her dinner, when I noticed this lady still staring. This was starting to really irritate me but then she got up and slowly started walking over to our table, my initial thoughts were ‘here it comes, the negative comments and ignorance’ and I was thinking of various profanities of how I could tell her to stick her unsolicited advice and ignorance. As this lady got closer to our table I saw that she was trembling so she slowed as she approached our table. As she slowly got closer and closer and I could see tears start to well in her eyes. Her mouth was open and she was trying to say something through her trembling and tears. She lifted up her hand and pointed still trying to get the words out of her mouth, then as she was pointing at something my daughter had and a word came out through tears and physical shaking “THE BRUSH,” she said again pointing at Tink’s brush.
It turns out this lady’s grandson had not long since been diagnosed with Autism and had sensory processing problems too. The family had been really struggling with meltdowns and they felt very lost in what to do in such circumstances. When she had seen me and how I deal with such occasions, something dawned on her. Her grandson also seeked things to calm himself. It turned out he often sought out his mum’s hair brush and would repetitively stroke it. The lady said her and her family didn’t realise what her grandson was doing and took the brush away from him which made things even worse. Through staring and watching me it had dawned on her how she could use this like I did with Tink. Right there and then it hit her that she now had a very powerful friend: reinforcement of the brush. She had a way of helping him to calm.
What a bloody ignorant fool I was to think this lady was being negative by staring when she was actually watching and learning. You see in this day in age conditions like autism are more prevalent. There are so many children out there with special needs that are struggling to cope and find ways to help their loved ones. So sometimes when people are staring they are not staring with malice or judgement they are staring with wonder and awe at learning something from another parent or carer that is facing similar trials and battles as them. Sometimes they are staring because they have spotted something you are doing that could help someone they love with all their heart just like I love my little girl.
So now I no longer care if people stand and stare because there is always a chance that someone just like me, may actually stare because they care.