Pay Attention

Joshua employs a range of strategies to gain attention, some of them are positive and some are more negative, but his intention is still pretty clear. He expects to be the main focus at home, and to be fair he usually is, and he is starting to feel the same way at school too. He has used hand gestures for some time: even at primary school he gave his peers rough high 5s and I had to teach him to tone it down, for the sake of the smaller children, and we deveoped a ‘zoob’ which only involved a mini high 5 with just one finger and that lasted for a while. The trouble is that I am sure he enjoys the smack noise and the burn on his hand after the gesture, so I have been unable to wean him off it permanently.

Joshua has been through stages of waving and more recently, at pointing at someone to catch their eye, across a room for instance he would pick someone out. Last week  he began to adopt a proper wave again. As he pulled out of the drive in his taxi, he gave me a royal wave rather like the Queen. He also has a new hand gesture, when he turns his hand out, palm up, as though he is saying ‘ta-dah’, which I love. When I took him into school last week, he stood at reception as though he was a meeter and greeter, beaming at the pupils as they arrived at school. He seemed to be saying ‘welcome…Look at me!’ So it seems that we have raised a show off.

However he has more negative gestures too, perhaps when that attention-seeking is not rewarded with a response. His favourite at the moment seems to be a kick to the ankles. It is not a painful kick, not overly aggressive, but he is saying ‘Oiiii’ with it and it is insistent too, accompanied with a twinkle in his eye. I have been on the receiving end of several kicks lately and I read in his diary that he has employed the same technique on staff at school too.

So now we need to work out how to teach him to communicate in a more socially acceptable way and to realise that he cannot be the centre of attention in every situation and at all times. This promises to be an interesting journey…


Attention Seeker

When you cannot say as much as you want to say, then sometimes you have to resort to controversial behaviour to get noticed, to get some attention. When I got home from work last night, I sang to Yorkshire Grandma as it was her birthday. Joshua was upstairs in his bedroom, watching Lion King from his bed, when I got home so we had a few moments alone while she opened her gift. He then heard my voice, I presume, as he appeared downstairs for a hug and I made a fuss of him too.

I then talked to Joan again about how she had spent her weekend – house and pet sitting for us – and her birthday so far, so Joshua was ignored while we talked. He resorted to all sorts of behaviour to try to get our attention and not all of it was good, but it was mostly effective , albeit temporarily:

  • He put his hand across my mouth to stop me talking!
  • He returned back upstairs, expecting one of us to follow him but soon returned when that did not happen
  • He threw himself on the floor in front of us, lying there giggling
  • He lifted his shirt up and flashed his tummy at Yorkshire Grandma, expecting a reaction
  • He ruffled her hair and tried to grab her glasses off her face, several times
  • Finally he tried to lift her dress up, to take a peek at her tummy!

The message was loud and clear : ‘stop talking to each other and play with me like you were before Mum came home’. Once Yorkshire Grandma had finished her cup of tea and some of her Belgian chocolates, she went home and Joshua calmed down and stopped his demanding behaviour. In fact he proceeded to have a cluster of seizures, within about 10 minutes of her leaving, sitting on the settee next to me. So rather than being ‘naughty’ and attention-seeking, as I had interpreted his behaviour, perhaps he was trying to say ‘look at me, something weird is happening to me, I feel funny and I need you’.

I know that this has happened a few times in the past  : one time at school I recall, he refused to climb onto the mini bus. He can be really awkward , sturdy and obstinate when he wants to be and he was told off for being difficult. Once on the transport, he had almost immediately begun fitting and had to be removed and given his emergency medication . That has happened at home too,  I have misinterpreted bad behaviour for him communicating an imminent seizure and of course  then, I am racked with guilt afterwards if I have told him off.

If you have limited language at your disposal, you certainly do not have the words to tell someone that a seizure is on the way, then you can only communicate physically. So we all have to learn to be sensitive to Joshua’s physical attempts to communicate and to try not to judge his behaviour by our own standards. I cannot imagine how badly behaved I would be if I could not communicate either with the written or spoken word.

School’s Out for Summer!

It was the first day of Joshua’s school holidays, so he got a lie in as Yorkshire Grandma was coming to get him at 10am. Of course, because he is contrary, he got up soon after 8am, when he didnt need to, and came downstairs where I gave him his breakfast and morning medication. So Joshua was knocking around when I went to work, already throwing cushions and trying to escape through the front door! He looked as though he might be a handful so I hopped onto my bike, and cycled the 2 miles to work, leaving Dad in charge!

I had a really busy morning at work but  was aiming to leave at 2pm. My bike chain came off as I cycled home and as it was very greasy, I let it be and pushed my bike the remaining quarter of a mile, where my husband fixed it and showed me how to for next time. Yorkshire Grandma brought Joshua back and we simply swapped cars, he was mad not to go inside the house, but we had a dentist appointment to get to and we were running late. Joshua’s latest trick is to bend down as though he is going to sit, as a way to object and in this position he is very hard to move, it s very effective as he plants himself to the floor.

It soon became clear why he did not want to come with me in the car, as within 5 minutes, he began fitting again. I pulled the car over, as he had three short seizures then put his head on his pillow to sleep them off, so we continued our journey.He was very perky at the dentist – waving at everyone, grabbing pens and telephones etc. In the surgey itself I gave him a marker pen- with the lid on!- and so he set about ‘scribbling’ on the walls and whiteboard, while I talked to the dentist about his impossible delay. She is hoping that he will get an appointment for his fillings, under sedation, in September. That will be 9 months after she initally referred him and when I chased it, the lady on the phone told me that some people wait for 14 months. I told her that that was nothing to brag about!

We went from the dentist to the supermarket – I know, I know how to treat my lad on the first day of his school holidays with the dentist and then shopping! But he did have fun – he loves to push a trolley, even though we hadnt bought enough to justify one, he adored the sloping escalator which took us upstairs and down again and he dragged me into ‘Donalds’!, for some chips and orange juice – he would not take no for an answer, even though he had eaten lunch with Yorkshire Grandma.

Then we drove to see a friend at her house, where he demanded attention while we sat talking and drinking tea. He used a variety of tactics to get our attention:

  • He pulled his t shirt up to show us his tummy. My friend began to squirt him with cool spray to cool him down, which made him do it even more
  • He lay on the kitchen floor then started to scoot around on his bottom
  • He grabbed at my friend’s son’s glasses, trying to pull them off and making him shout to be rescued
  • His eyes went dazed and in opposite directions, threatening more seizures
  • He climbed onto the table that we were sitting at, lying between us both, giggling

After a couple of hours we came home again, where he was calmer and after my tea, we had a cool bath to ease his heat rash. On the first day of his holidays, he was tucked up in bed at 9.30pm. I wonder what today will bring?

Whirling Dervish

Joshua woke up yesterday full of mischief and his cheekiness carried on all day, right up until bedtime when unusually, it took  four attempts to get him to stay in bed. He was awake too early, before 7am, but that should have made him tired and subdued, not this whirling dervish that I had all day. He was so restless at home that I took him to the supermarket at 8.30, as he loves to push a trolley normally and that wears him out. While he pushed the trolley down the aisles, whenever we turned round to come back towards the doors, he abandoned the trolley and made a run for the doors, at high speed. He normally sits on the seats while I pack the shopping bags, but yesterday again set off at high speed, causing me to take off after him and abandon my shopping. He was giggling like mad when I caught up with him and brought him back, so he knew exactly what he was doing.

I wanted to visit a friend who has been unwell and she was working in her shop yesterday, so we paid her a visit. He immediately began to behave the same in her shop – throwing cushions off the settee, pulling clothes off hangers and heading for the stairs. Needless to say, we did not stay long in her boutique, just long enough to deliver a home made sweet treat and a hug.

We were en route to meet my sister at Donalds, and I had hoped that might calm him as he was very excited to get there and very excited to see his Aunt, he gave her a lot of cuddles, but then would grab at her glasses sayng ‘No Glasses!’ as he did it. We had to sit either side of him to wedge him into the bench seat and then he kept blocking his head in front of my sister’s ,so that we could not easily see each other! He refused to eat his burger, throwing some of it, but he was thirsty and drank more than usual. We only met for around an hour as I was not keen to drag him round any shops, as had been the original plan, in this mood, so we headed home again as, at least in the car, he has to sit still and the air conditioining kept us cool.  he did still manage to throw the remainder of his ornage juice all over me and the car, making us both sticky!

He rampaged around the house when we got back, sweeping and posing in front of the hall mirror with the telephone were his most constructive behaviours. Joshua enjoyed all of his evening meal and we had an early bath too. But he was not interested in lying on his bed watching ‘Lion King’ as he kept coming downstairs while I  was making my own meal.

I am not sure what triggered this busy behaviour but I have two theories :

  1. The heat made him uncomfortable and unable to relax
  2. I was home alone as my husband has gone to London to see friends and a concert,  so this was a request for attention as, Joshua was not going to be ignored yesterday.

I am enjoying the peace now while he is still asleep and I am wondering if we will have a repeat performance today, in which case I will be going back to work in the morning for a rest.