January 1, 2012

A Very Long Break

Two more days.

On Tuesday, life returns to what passes for normal around here. School will start. I will wake up on time, pack lunches, get kids dressed and fed and out the door.

I cannot wait.

This has been a difficult break for us, probably the hardest one yet. Moe's aggressive behaviors increased throughout the break, reaching a peak on December 26-27. For those two days, it seemed every interaction we had with Moe involved him grabbing or pulling us. He went after the dog repeatedly. We would grab his hands and sharply tell him "no!" but often he would just continue to come at us, over and over. One time he just ran up to me from behind and pushed me. He grabbed Jelly when they were riding in the double stroller.

We couldn't figure out why, only that it was constant. Was he sick? Just bored or missing the routine of school? Were these outbursts sensory in nature? Moe wasn't sleeping well, but we couldn't tell if that was the cause or another symptom.

Things have gotten a little better over the past few days, and we learned that a softer response tends to extinguish the behavior faster.

Jeff also installed Moe's Hanukkah present, a hammock chair/swing that Moe took to immediately, and has been a perfect respite when things are overwhelming, relaxing spot to hang out with a book, and excellent sensory replacement for banging the rocking chair repeatedly against the wall. The installation was a big project, involving things like joists and eye hooks and, in what may seem like a non-sequitur but was actually crucial to the process, walking through setting up WiFi at my in-laws' house.

We also feel pretty strongly that this aggressive behavior is not just sensory in nature like we originally believed, and was so often the case with Moe in the past. There is still an aspect of that, as when he's overly excited, and wants to calm down. But there definitely seems to be an attention seeking component as well, as if he's telling us "Hey! I'm excited!" or "I'm bored" or even "feed me." He's figured out that this "bad" behavior gets a response, even if it is a negative one (which to him, may not seem negative at all). If this is the case, it would be a very good thing.

Back in August, when I wrote about Moe pulling hair at school, his old teacher, told me "aggression is interaction."

I'm starting to believe her.


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