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Tantrum-Is it actually communication?

Whenever I read something about Autism, either books or parent’s experience in blogs, groups, the usual word that accompanies it is “Tantrum”,

The people with no knowledge about Autism may look at some of the odd behaviours as Tantrum. Being a mother of a kid with Autism, I have realized that this is not tantrum at all. It is rather a form of “communication”. When I realized this, it started helping me and my kid.

I realized this recently while my son had his hair cut. During hair cut sessions (which we used to do at home), he used to be kicking, screaming and crying. I always thought this was due to sensitivity in his head. But over a period of time we noticed the hairs falling on his body irritated him. On our last hair cut session, we put him a shirt that covered him well and attempted once again. This time to our surprise, he was quiet cooperative. What I could surmise was since he had very limited verbal communication, he was not able to express himself fully. He just used to say, “No, No” when he saw the hair clipper and run away from the place. If we forced him, he used to throw the so called tantrum.

Now I have understood after all it is his way of communication. After realizing this, my tensions have come down significantly. Now whenever he throws a tantrum, I search for a reason and try to give him the right words or make him comfortable by providing what he needs.

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Managing tantrum - Familiarity leads to comfort

I have shared my experience about the reason for tantrum under the topic "How Movement, touch, sound or smell can affect your kids with Autism?".

In this article, I am going to share another reason for tantrum. It is “unfamiliarity”. This unfamiliarity can be anything like new place, new toys, meeting anew person etc. In short for kids with autism, it is anything “NEW” in their world. But this unfamiliarity can be overcome with little effort as I learn from the experience with my son.

Here I would like to share my experience. When my son went to school for the first time, he was not able to sit in a place for “Attendance” and for the “Story time”. This is because he was not familiar to that routine. Our speech therapist suggested having a play mat at those times (to indicate that specific routine has started). But still my son was not getting comfortable. Finally she told us to send his favourite toy to the school. This was supposed to be given during the registration and story session only. This at last helped him to sit in a place for those sessions.

And sometime later, we had to shift to another place. In the new place, he spent lot of his time, with all his usual toys bunched up together. Even when we visited our relative’s places, which my son had never visited before, we helped him carry his toys in a bag. In the relatives house he was absolutely comfortable surrounded by his own toys. It was like he was carrying his own world with him every where he went. But very soon when he became accustomed to the new places, his reliance on toy came down. He soon started interacting with people who were around him rather than just fiddle with toys only.

The lesson I could take is when kids with autism to face an unfamiliar environment, they can be made comfortable by some familiar routine or things.

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