Monday, 14 July 2014

Giving In or Strategic Retreat?

Food is a challenge for Alex but we've slowly managed to coax him into eating more and more "regular" food instead of the pureed stuff.  But sometimes we hit a barrier.

Today he didn't want to have his apple at lunch.  He began spitting and throwing the pieces at me so I had to cover his mouth.  (This is a strategy that we absolutely cannot let him get away with, so I put my hand in front of his mouth, careful not to block his nose and not putting a lot of pressure on.  I just keep it screened so that he can't spit.)  To up the ante, he then kicked me, which incurs an automatic time-out.

Now I had a dilemma.  Do I do the time-out immediately to reinforce not-kicking or do I force him to finish the apple first since he's almost certainly doing this as a way to get out of eating it.

I put him in time out but told him he'd have to finish the apple when he was done.  He was not inclined to cooperate and kept bolting from time-out.  It quickly became clear that this was becoming a game, he'd bolt and I'd bring him back (and get swatted every time). 

I ended up going down into the timeout area with him and holding him with his back to me.  I kept his arms held down so that he couldn't swat, stood far enough back that he couldn't kick and we were far enough from the wall that he couldn't headbang.  I held him like that for two minutes and told him to stay put.  Then I restarted the timeout.

It took almost 45 minutes to get our 1 minute of calm (although he did stop bolting after being held).  By then, our therapist had arrived to start therapy.

I took him back to the table to finish the apple and he immediately began spitting and throwing it again.  Restart the whole procedure (another 30 minutes).  The therapist suggested we put away the apple until snack and try again. 

I agreed but it's not sitting entirely well with me.  I'm not sure I could have gotten him to eat the apple without physically forcing it down his throat (not advised).  But it still feels like I gave in to a tantrum.  I did make him ask "No eating apple, please" before giving up, so maybe there's a little success to be gained.

It was a very frustrating day.  One of the reminders that no matter how well he does, we will always have to be ready for setbacks.

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