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…



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.


Growing Pains

Last night on ‘The A Word’, Joe was upset about his carer having to leave and he reacted badly in his school classroom by having a tantrum and ‘flinging a few chairs about in the classroom’ and his parents were called into see the Headteacher. They then had a debate about how much Joe actually understood and felt but his Mum made a remark that I have often heard and said myself : Joe’s behaviour might be sweet now, but when he is older, what then? When he is not cute anymore and no-one can handle him when he is 16 and still flinging chairs to express himself, what then?

That is a  very real reflection as our children grow up into adulthood; Their little quirks or coping  stategies are not so tolerable. Joshua always bounced up and down as a young child, he was never still, and that was one of the things that made him stand out from his peers. I can remember in a special needs playgroups when Joshua was a toddler, we all sat around in a circle singing action songs, with Joshua bouncing continually. I had thought he was happy but the leader had called me aside at the end of the session, to tell me that his behaviour ‘was not right’ and it indicated to her that he had a problem. Given that he was in a special needs playgroup, that seemed to me , then and now, an odd thing to say, even though I am sure she had our best interests at heart.

But we frequently said, that he could get away with bouncing as a toddler and even at primary school, but we were fearful of having an adolescent, or even adult, son who jumped up and down in public places. Then it would not just be seen as exuberant behaviour, then it would be regarded as being anti-social and no longer ‘cute’ enthusiasm.

Fortunately for us, Joshua does not have behaviour problems and is not normally destructive – other than when he had a reaction to one anti epileptic drug that he was given and that was a frightening insight into the world that many parents face with a chid who is violent and aggressive. Fortunately it was so alien to Joshua’s placid character that we were able to identify the source of the violence and remove the drug quickly and the problem went away, but I am aware that not every parent is that fortunate.

But equally Joshua’s open affection to strangers, by grabbing them for a hug or for attention, might well have been sweet when he was a toddler, but now that he is a 5’10” teenager,  it is more probematic. Most strangers recognise Joshua’s intention to be friendly, but not all and some look genuinely horrified as he approaches. Although I am concerned by ‘stranger danger’, I am not prepared to lose that affectionate side of his personality and to tell him off for that behaviour. I tend to make  a joke of it and say ‘Put her down Joshua, not everybody wants a hug!’ as my standard response, but it is a challenge to know how that might develop as he becomes an adult.