We're only on day 4 of October and Down syndrome awareness month, and already I'm posting to ask for advice rather than to just give some informational stuff about Ds or life with kids that have it.
I had a post all planned out for today. It was about communication- or lack there of. One day this month you'll get to read it. But for today it plays only a small role in the difficulty we're having. Because even if there was available language, there must also be comprehension. And that's what we're missing.
I've written before that Emma was being aggressive toward Lynae, but now it's lessened a lot and we're doing much better with the two of them being within arm's reach and still both safe. Unfortunately, this aggression hasn't gone completely away though.
Emma's always been one we had to watch around younger kids. She has a tendency to go up to a friend's twins that are less than 2 years old and petite for their ages and to just knock them right over. No reason about it. She'll pull Micah and Brianna down if they're in her way or if she wants something they have. She'll throw a book or toy when she's done with it with no regard for who or what may be around or what damage may be done. Basically, she just has no understanding that what she does may cause someone else to get hurt.
Realistically, this may be in part due to the fact that her own response to pain is sorely lacking. She will fall on the tile with a hard smack to her head and not react. She'll scratch herself, pop joints out of the socket, and flick at the skin on her thumbs when she's frustrated. She laughs when her hair is pulled. She doesn't cry as a response to pain unless it's something really major. She's cut her head open when falling down and hitting the stucco on the outside of the house and not even blinked twice as she sat back up and scooted away. Pain doesn't phase her like it does others, and when it does, her reaction isn't 'typical'.
So brings the question-- how do you teach a child that doesn't understand pain not to inflict it on others? How do you teach her the social graces of not steamrolling people that are smaller than her or knocking down people that are in her way? How do you drill in that throwing large hard objects isn't ok and that books and frisbees are indeed different items?
Tonight as we drove in the car Emma was sitting next to Lynae. We had her carseat sun shade down so Emma couldn't reach her, but we heard her fuss. I quickly turned to see Emma had 'snuck' the shade up (it clicks but she'd done it so we wouldn't hear it... the previous 2x she did it we heard it and stopped her!) and had reached in to the carseat. She can only reach Lynae's hand, but she was messing with the sleeping baby and yes, I was concerned that she might hurt her. Emma was reprimanded, but as I told Mike, having Lynae next to Emma is like putting a musical toy on the seat next to her and telling her she can't have it. She really wants to mess with it, but she's not allowed. Over and over again she loooooooooks. Then she reaches. Then she touches. And eventually she grabs and hopes she gets away with it because her self-control is used up. When she gets in trouble she then pouts and fusses and the process starts again because she really wants it!
That wasn't the end to the day today, though. This evening after the kids were in pajamas I was in the guest room setting out clothes for the week for all the kids. Emma and Micah were playing with Mike nearby and I heard a quick short reprimand to Emma and Mike run to get to her. She had Micah pinned down and was playing with his feet. Yep, he's big enough to hold his own, but it's still not a good idea. Emma was reprimanded, moved away from him, and she pouted a minute, seeming to understand that she was in trouble. Then she did it again.
So what's the answer?? How does this work?? Though of course we're very careful about keeping each of our kids safe and we supervise them and separate them as necessary, it's still something that there's no way to completely avoid without keeping Emma out of play with the other kids all together. And that's NOT an option by any means.
The hard part is, they're seeing this at school too. This week I got a note home from her teacher saying she was hitting, kicking, and pushing another child in her class. Now, she's in a wheelchair or other 'device' much of the day, so the child likely got into "her space" to have been reached, but this is still inappropriate behavior. And who knows, Emma's pretty flexible with long arms and legs... the kid could have been 2' away and Emma just finaggled her way over there to do it.
Tomorrow afternoon I'm meeting with Emma's teacher- a sweet and caring Christian woman who I'm GLAD to corroborate with on Emma's learning and I hope she may have some ideas for curbing this behavior. In the mean time (or after!) I've come to my greatest resource for learning about these lovely difficulties... parents who have been there! :)
How do you get it to sink in???