Behaviour Is Communication
I didn’t come up with this idea. It was….ooh, can’t find it. Probably Skinner though, sounds like one of his. Feel free to let me know in the comments, I don’t have time to find out this week. Anyway, behaviour is communication. I know that. I’m a Spectrummy Mummy. I know these things because we get a nice little manual explaining everything with the diagnosis. No, I’m just messing with you. I know this through learning the hard way. There never is an easy way, now is there?
So just to be clear, I know that behavior is communication. Right?
I also know that my girl has a pragmatic language delay, and that her senses create a bunch of mixed signals, which cause her to be disconnected from her body. Yep, I know that. I know things, see.
On top of this, I know my girl. I know my girl. I don’t claim to always understand her, but I do know her.
Still, on Monday, all I saw was a terrible day. I knew her sensory issues were driving her behavior, but that seemed to be all I could see. She was more impulsive, compulsive, destructive than I’d seen her in a very long time. I asked myself why, but I guess the part of my brain that figure out these things was too busy trying to deal with the chaos. Because unregulated Pudding is chaos. Impulsive, compulsive, destructive chaos.
She was ill. She felt wrong, and was compelled to make herself feel right, with her sensory-seeking ways. When they didn’t work, she didn’t stop, she just kept going. Desperately trying to make it better, angry with me and herself for not being able to fix the problem. She can’t tell me she is ill, in fact, she says the reverse when I ask her. Experience has given us clues. If she talks about wanting to clean her mouth- get a bucket, she is less than 10 seconds away from vomiting. If she wants to lie down, or needs a blanket, or tells you to clean it up, she is ill. She’ll tell you she is not sick if you ask her, but she is. You just have to read her behaviour.
So I can’t tell you why I didn’t think she was ill on Monday. That I didn’t interpret all that behavior as communicating that basic fact. If I’d known, we’d definitely have skipped speech therapy. Who needs that when they are ill?
Yet, aside from that, I wouldn’t have done anything different. When she got into the fridge and began smearing food everywhere, I found some tactile activities for her. When she jumped on the sofa and the bed, I directed her to the trampoline. When she asked for hugs, I gave them. When she pushed me away angrily, I let her. When she screamed, I was calm. Not a natural calm, but a learned, forced, necessary calm. A calm almost two years in the making.
I’m not a saint, I was ready for a drink when Daddy walked through the door, I whined to him about all the gory details of the day. But I’m also a little wiser than I used to be. I know that behaviour is communication. And even when, especially when, I can’t understand hers, I need to make sure I’m communicating the right thing. That I’m here, even when she pushes me away. That I can’t always make it better, but I will always try. That when her world feels terrible and different, I will be constant.
You know though, if I could go back two years ago to that Mummy who didn’t know, I’d whisper in her ear what I know now. Behaviour is communication. Somebody (damn it, who?) very important came up with that, but before you even try to understand Pudding, you’d better look at your behaviour first. You can read all about it in this manual. Nope, just kidding! Still no manual, sorry. I keep finding there is still so much I just don’t know, even when I know it.
Today you’ll also find me at The SPD Blogger Network. Come over and read and share.