Tuesday 26 November 2013

The Scream

Alex has discovered a particularly intolerable reaction to being frustrated of late.  He will get as close to you as possible and then let out a high-pitched, high-volume scream.  It actually literally hurts my ears when he does it.

I'm noise-sensitive.  I get driven nuts by dripping taps or electronic devices left playing at low volumes.  I hate background music in stores because I can't tune it out (and often don't like what they're playing).  This is probably one of the autism traits which Alex gets from me.

Unlike many of Alex's tantrum choices, this is something I cannot ignore by pretending not to react to it.  Which has led him to realize it gets a reaction from Mommy and encourages him to use it.  So now I have to figure out a way to make it a less desirable option.

We've been using our standard loss of privileges approach.  If he screams, he loses access to something he likes (usually Megablocks, computer and iPad, in that order).  Right now, we're in the extinction burst phase where he uses it more to test our resolve.  (Many parents give up on consequences during extinction bursts, leading to an overall escalation of the problem behaviour.)

I'm trying very hard to stay calm and react in a productive way but this screaming is really getting under my skin.  I hate it and it's physically painful.  It was actually easier for me to respond properly when he was kicking me.  It hurt but didn't press as many buttons.

I know I have to stick it out.  Eventually he will realize we're serious and that screaming isn't a cost-effective way to make his point.  I just hope it happens soon.

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