Spectrummy Mummy

Asperger's, Allergies, and Adventures Abroad

Behaviour Is Communication

with 22 comments

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.

Written by Spectrummy Mummy

April 7, 2011 at 6:43 am

22 Responses

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  1. Yep. 🙂

    So much I know doesn’t become useful to me until hindsight shows me what was going on. :sigh:


    April 7, 2011 at 7:13 am

  2. oh how I know that forced calm. All too well.
    Yup, many days I’d like to go back and tell myself what was going on. But we just take that knowledge and hope to remember to use it another day.


    April 7, 2011 at 8:10 am

    • Yep! Days when I wonder what this whole awareness thing is about, it is about ordinary educated parents who didn’t have that knowledge, and could use it.
      Forced Calm sounds like a cheesy movie.

      Spectrummy Mummy

      April 7, 2011 at 3:43 pm

  3. Go easy on yourself – from your experience of moving from country to country – you KNOW that when you’re learning a new language, even when you think you’ve got it down – you have those days when you realize you have sooo much more to learn!! But every experience you have brings you that much closer to understanding!


    April 7, 2011 at 8:18 am

  4. […] Behaviour I&#1109 Communication « Spectrummy Mummy's Blog […]

  5. “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.”

    Some days that’s all we have to give. Over time, it builds trust.


    April 7, 2011 at 10:19 am

  6. And you got me with the manual thing…I was all like, “Manual, you got a manual?!? Hummph.” LOL

    Thing is, communication goes TWO ways. Pudding is receiving what you’re sending her–a constant steady stream of love even when she’s all out of sorts. Shes getting that and she’s a lucky girl indeed.


    April 7, 2011 at 12:15 pm

    • Aaww, thanks.

      You’d think with how much all the evaluations cost that we’d at least get a free book out of it!

      Spectrummy Mummy

      April 7, 2011 at 3:38 pm

  7. I’m still working on that forced calm…it’s hard. Now if only I could get the school to understand that behavior is communication…then maybe we’d make some progress.


    April 7, 2011 at 3:18 pm

  8. Ok, I want to learn how to have that forced calm, because I still get frustrated and irritated when I can’t fix it! When my girl is whining or crying because she doens’t feel right. (And my daughter “only” has mild SPD!) I have never been a very patient person, and it’s hard for me to be calm sometimes when it’s a child that doesn’t ABSOLUTELY NEED calm. How much harder it is knowing that if I’m not calm, if I can’t handle it, it will only make the situation worse….. Ok, I’m ranting a little here, but sometimes I’m afraid I can’t be what she needs. She has special needs, and there are some days when I blow it, and I think I’m just not very special. Ok, I’m sitting here crying now, because that’s the first time I’ve admitted that. (Anonymity can be a good thing, I guess. LOL! And yes, I really did laugh out loud with tears in my eyes.) I’m just finding out that she has SPD, so maybe it’s a combination of fear and relief that there’s a reason for all this. But also part of it is knowing that I always feared that I wouldn’t measure up when it came to mothering children that were “typical” how much more scared am I now that I know my daughter is “nearlytypical.” But, here’s the perspective I need to keep: I’ve been doing it all along! This isn’t anything new. It’s still the same child. She still has the same needs, fears and quirks. Only now, I know she isn’t just a strange child, there is a reason for her “different-ness.” So, anyway, thanks for helping me find some perspective myself.


    April 7, 2011 at 4:45 pm

    • I know you’re what she needs, because you’re trying. That is the only qualification we need. It isn’t easy, I constantly feel that I’m too ordinary for my extraordinary kid, but I guess we get lots of opportunities to practice patience until we get better at it. 😉 You’re in good company. 🙂

      Spectrummy Mummy

      April 7, 2011 at 4:59 pm

      • Thanks! It’s nice to know I’m not the only one. 😀


        April 7, 2011 at 5:06 pm

  9. this is EXACTLY what i needed to read tonight.
    thank you, thank you so much.


    April 7, 2011 at 9:09 pm

  10. Fantastic blog. I couldn’t have wrote that better I think u just open the eyes of many.
    I’ll be back to read more as having a child on the spectrum I love to read other parents experiences.


    April 9, 2011 at 9:23 am

  11. […] my B post, I almost went with Behaviour, but beyond saying that behaviour is communication, don’t have much to say about it.  Instead, I’m going with Balance.  Balance, or the […]

  12. […] of control. I hope, as you’re reading this, you remember that I wrote a post called “Behaviour is Communication“. Such a simple concept, you’d think I’d remember it, wouldn’t you? […]

  13. […] of highs like Pudding beginning to write, and the lows of anxiety.  I had that revelation that my behaviour is communication.  Some of those days I’d be glad to forget.  I got the chance to tell Parents that the 1 […]

  14. […] she she has this sense of justice, and expectation of fair treatment. I’m glad she uses her behaviour to communicate what she can’t fully express in words. Such indignation of unfair treatment will serve her […]

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