I suppose that certain things are inevitable when you’ve a child with communication issues.  Frustration often boils over, and we’ve been accustomed to the fact that there are times that a meltdown’s going to happen… and to date, we’ve been fortunate that the Monster’s easily diverted.  Certain kinds of meltdowns at certain times could be easily enough interpreted, and…

Well, we’ve reached a new behavior that’s not so easily diverted.

I don’t know where the most recent bout of this came from.  Talking to other parents of children with special needs, I know certainly about kids who lash out and either do damage to others or themselves.  The Monster’s generally been a calm child, and while he can get excited, the most ‘violent’ he’s gotten has been to squeeze someone’s arm when he’s really upset.

It’s turned into hitting.  Though… even I have to admit that there’s a comical side to it.

Usually, it’ll go like this.  We’ll be sitting at the dinner table, or on the couch, and the Monster’ll look at me and make sure he has my attention. And then he’ll announce, “Hit.”

“No, Monster,” I’ll say calmly.  “We don’t hit.”

“Don’t hit,” the Monster’ll repeat.  And then, “Hit.”

There are times that this is accompanied by a feigned stroke at me or at R (he doesn’t go to hit his mother, interestingly enough), which usually is followed by a chiding again about not hitting… and then he’ll hit himself.  This can suddenly find that slippery slope where he’s actually hitting one of us, or more that he’s hitting himself and getting himself increasingly worked up… but that it’s coming out at bedtime also is perhaps more a sign that he’s finding a new expression for letting us know he’s tired.  It’s just really more disturbing to see him slide into expressing a need via a threat of violence.

And I suppose the saving grace is that he’s actually not hitting hard.  (As a side note – I’ve never figured out why it’s never hard – even when he gives a high-five, it’s not hard, and he’s certainly stronger than that, not that I’m really complaining in this context.)  I’m more troubled by the fact that he’s thinking that this is an appropriate way to express frustration, especially since we don’t physically discipline either him or R.  The only time I hit either of them is when they hit me and after I’ve given them warnings that continuing to hit me is going to get a reaction, and even then, I don’t really hit them hard, given how big I am compared to them.

On a positive, though, we’re starting ABA soon.  It’s something to work on, certainly, along with trying to get him to use his other communication tools more frequently…

One thought on “HIT!

  1. I feel your pain and understand your frustration. My son is 26 now (dx’d with autism as a toddler). As a child, he was very physically aggressive – he bit, hit, pushed, pinched, screamed in my face, etc.) He was also self harming- hit and bit himself. I think there were many reasons why he did these things- tremendous sensory issues, communication issues, rigid tendencies, inability to move his body the way he wanted to or get his body to do what he wanted it to, etc). I would do all I could to redirect him and give him sensory input before he became too frustrated and “came at me” or anyone else, but it was very difficult. When he was little, there was a lot of “aggression” days – it was pretty much a daily thing. As I said, he’s 26 now, and he no longer is aggresive towards others or himself. With lots of different sensory therapies, speech therapy, OT/PT, redirecting, praise for appropriate behaviors, and consequences for physically going after someone, he did stop. It took years, but he did learn to express his frustrations in other ways. He is a very calm, happy adult with a great sense of humor, he’s VERY bright, and a very loving, sweet guy. He’s a college graduate and writer. He’s had five children’s books and four poems published and is working on a novel right now. You hang in there. This is a tough issue to deal with. I wish you and your boy all the best.

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