Often I ask myself , does my son have any discomfort, is he sick, or he is just simply misbehaving. A non-verbal autistic child, or a child who can not express himself adequately can give you a difficult time to decode their behavioral issues.
Understanding the root causes of behavioral problems are critical. We can not just simply say he is spoiled, neglected, bad parenting, or having a learning disability. Finding excuses will not solve any problems, instead it will create even more. It is crucial to acknowledge these issues if they exist, and to try to find solutions for them.
Also we should analyze what type of behavior they exhibit, how often this occurs, and how long will it last.
Furthermore, try to see if you can find the trigger for these behavioral problems.
The first and foremost task is to eliminate physical illness. Check their temperature, their ears if the child has frequent ear infections, and also their throat. I usually check my son head to toe ,to make sure he didn’t injure himself and that he isn’t having pain caused by that injury. Once you’ve cleared them from the most obvious causes, try to look for clues for why is he exhibiting these behaviors.
These behaviors can be anything from aggression toward others, or to themselves, excessive head banging, scratching, biting, body-slamming, screaming, crying, destruction of property, complete non-compliance, and/or excessive crying.
My son had been crying so much , so long and so loud that It scared me. The first few days when Amin started to scream and cry uncontrollably, I was terrified that something was really wrong with him, especially since he had that very serious episode just a few weeks ago. I checked his O2sat, listen to his lungs with my stethoscope, and I monitored him probably more intensely than they would in ICU. (No offense to the hospital, they did a good job, just a figure of speech).
It was a breaking point for me, when I watched him him like a hawk, and I discovered that he is kicking and screaming until he is blue, but I never see a drop of tears. I was shocked to realized that my son is having a real temper tantrum. He never really had it before, or if he had something similar it was a very short lived one.
In this past month I found every excuse for my son to validate his behavior. He was very sick, required CPR, he has high fever, he is scared being alone after that experience, he is not sleeping for over a week, and the list can go on and on. I was completely oblivious about those little signs that he might just be misbehaving, and testing how far he can push me.( he did trick me all along, and got away with a lot)
It was quite an eyeopener when I came to this realization. After my “mommy awakening”, I was looking for clues to validate my theory. I was right after all, when I realized that the triggering issues were that he just didn’t want to work at school, or at home with me. He was a bit tired, and didn’t want to do his therapy.
The other night after a 30 minute intense crying and carrying on episode, I discovered I was late almost an hour to give him dinner. Amin is very set on his schedule, especially his meals, and sleep, therefore when any changes occur he has a hard time to adjust to it. (what cruelty he has to endure…sorry Amin)
Also, before, during and after his illnesses he is more sensitive to different sensory input. He gets very easily overwhelmed, annoyed, and he has not yet developed adequate coping skills to deal with certain issues.
So, lets get back to the question… IS IT A BEHAVIORAL PROBLEM, OR AN ILLNESS?
There is not a template that can be applied to all children. They are all unique in their own wonderful way, and an approach has to be different to solve problems with them. Once you eliminate the most obvious indicators for illness, or sensory issues, you can assume that it might be just a behavioral problem. If you are not sure, there is always an option to call the doctor and get an appointment with him to check the child.
Two weeks ago when Amin stopped sleeping and cried all night, pulling his ears – that is what I did, but I knew that he has ear infection. He was diagnosed with an ear-infection, and after being on the antibiotic for 10 days he is slowly starting go back where he was before, except he just doesn’t want to work with his therapist, or his teacher.
The teacher, and the therapist are worried that there might be other medical issues that arose with him, but all the indicators point to my suspicion that he needs to relearn to transition back to his schedule. It might take some time, but he is on the road to recovery, I just have to be patient with him.
What I learned from this experience is that I need to relax and acknowledge that these kids are very clever, and they can play you like a violin.