Monday, 20 October 2014

Elevator Annoyance

Alex likes elevators.  We all know this.

But lately he's been  humming the tones from various elevators (and sadly, I can recognize which ones are which by the pitch).  At first, not such a big deal, but now he's doing it constantly.

The school sent home a note asking if we could discourage it as it is interfering with his work and with other students in the class.  I was already getting to the point where the constant hmmm-mmmm in various tones was driving me nuts.  (I'm the opposite of the boys, I can't tune out my aural feed no matter what.  So repetitive or unpleasant sounds will quickly frustrate me.)

The question is: how do we discourage it?  Especially since it's probably an unconscious vocal manifestation of what's going on in his head.  The only answer I can think of is to tell him "no elevator noises" for a particular activity and then remind him to be quiet.  I'm not sure how effective it will be as a strategy, but it's got a chance of breaking it if the noises have just become habit.

With a regular ten year old making an annoying repetitive sound, you could ask him to stop, you could explain when and where such noises are appropriate, you could offer a reward or punishment.  The strategies may not work but where one fails, there are other options.

When it comes to self-reinforcing behaviours like shredding, making the cats hiss or humming elevator tunes, the behaviour itself makes him feel good enough that it doesn't really matter what the external consquences or expectations are.  Breaking those behaviours is really tricky.  From the list, as you can guess, I haven't had a lot of success.

Here's hoping this one works.

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