Behavior Log

The past two weeks I’ve been keeping a log to identify problem behaviors and triggers that interfere with Tyoma’s speech therapy and joint attention activities. These observations, along with a retrospective of my journals gave me a “top ten” list of activities that cause distress; i.e. “tuning out” or becoming hyperactive. These situations invariably cause behavior problems. They follow, in order of most intense (serious, continuous or intense meltdowns) to least (fussiness, running away to avoid activity).
Activity
Behavior
Cause?
Solution
Hair washing
Red faced screaming, shaking, hysteria
Doesn’t like water poured on head
Nothing has ever helped.
Trips to the beach
Series of meltdowns when movements restricted
Overwhelming, too many new things. He loves the ocean/beach.
Hard to work with.
Putting on hats.
Cries, pulls off hat. Wails/fights if forced to wear hat.
Always hated anything restrictive on head.
If it’s very cold he’ll wear the hood on his jacket.
Cleaning ears.
Fights/screams
Sensory
Work quickly & distract.
 Haircuts.
Fusses, twists about.
Hates water sprayed near face/ hair touched by stranger
The right stylist makes the difference.
Speech Therapy/ Dr. Appointments
He runs off, becomes “hyper.”
Overstimulation?
Still working on it!
 Serious Conversations
Hyper, gets into stuff.
Sensitive to tone of voice.  (not volume)
Give attention, talk elsewhere.
Wal-Mart.
He fusses and tries to get out of the cart
Sensitive to noise from TV/loudspeakers
Redirect attention, rock cart.
 Bookstores
Fusses, tries to get out of stroller.
Distracted by print? Does not have trouble at toy stores.
Be quick, rock stroller.
10:50 and 4:10 Madness
Hyper, gets into stuff.
Hungry, needs to burn off energy.
Intense play, snack
Behavior is communication. I’m not sure if I identified all the causes of Tyoma’s challenging behavior, nor am I certain that I am using the best solutions. But I am certain that by sharing this with you that we can develop a plan to help make his therapy sessions more productive.
Let me add a bit more about Tyoma’s behavior. His baseline is sweet, affectionate, and compliant with just a touch of mischievousness.  His remoteness and hyperactivity are not predominate or persistent.  They occur in specific situations and usually have specific triggers.
Remoteness
Tyoma can tune the world out. When he does, he will rarely respond to prompts or look at you. This frequently happens when he is deeply focused on a favorite task (attentiveness will return after he’s finished). I am not troubled by this type of self-absorption—I consider it to be willful ignoring and his Papa and Grandpa are masters of it. What concerns me is the other type of “spaciness” where he is truly in his own world.
I’ve noticed that this aloofness is often connected to his health. At home, the aloofness goes hand in hand with fevers, blue circles under his eyes, cold symptoms and fussiness. Tylenol and cuddling make the difference.  I’d estimate that 70% of his remoteness in our home is associated with him not feeling well. This is unfortunate, since preschool floods our house with new viruses every other week.
His remaining remoteness I ascribe to some sort of mental overload. New activities, uncertainty of expectations and too many distractions contribute to Tyoma shutting down. He won’t answer questions, participate in activities or even look at you. This reaction goes hand in hand with hyperactivity.
Hyperactivity
Tyoma sometimes transforms from the sweet well mannered boy I know into the hyper-monster.  He runs about, gets into stuff and tests limits. A part of this behavior is the need to burn off some physical energy. I can predict when he needs a break by the time of day. Break given=energy spent, his focus and attention return. Being overtired or hungry also brings out the hyper-monster. I suspect that this behavior is fairly normal and that most toddler boys need to run around, eat when they’re hungry and sleep well.
This hyperactivity becomes demanding when it interferes with play, speech therapy and conversations with other adults. Tyoma probably has some sensory issues that contribute to this problem. The novelty factor is a major influence. And I am all out of time! I’ll finish this up for you later!

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