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contentedness vs appropriate behavior

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Old 09-11-10, 01:20 PM
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Default contentedness vs appropriate behavior

For those of you who have children with behavior-related special needs, which is more important to you, your child being "comfortable" or your child learning age-appropriate behavior?

For example, I have 2 friends who both have kids with food aversions, sensory issues, etc. One friend lets her kid eat chicken nuggets, fries, for every meal, because it's so upsetting and such a battle to get him to eat anything else. OTOH, my other friend insists her son eats a balanced diet, including things he likes, and things he hates. This sometimes causes tantrums, ruined meals, etc.

This is an extreme example, of course, but over the years I've delt with many special needs children and their parents, and have seen both sides of the coin. Can you please explain how you feel about it and why?
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Old 09-11-10, 01:28 PM
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I'm a fan of appropriate behavior. I used to think that was the "right" way to be, but I can see why parents would choose otherwise now that I've been a parent for a few years now. I can totally understand how when you have a kid with spcial needs, all you want to do is for him to be able to be happy.

I don't believe in my child constantly being upset/uncomfortable, but my approach is letting the child work toward goals at a developmentally appropriate pace, always keeping in mind the "appropriate behavior" goal. Of course, my child isn't going to always achieve the goal, but I want him to be as close as possible.

Matthew went to EI which was housed in a school for severely delayed children. I was amazed how well all of those kids were able to make eye contact, say hello, and exhibit appropriate social skills. Even though some of them could hardly speak, they had been taught to acknowledge adults/other kids as they passed by. Of course, I also witnessed people having to help kids through tantrums, outbursts, etc.
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Old 09-11-10, 04:54 PM
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This is a tough one for me. It totally depends on the situation, how her day is going, how MY day is going, etc. I often call it parenting by path of least resistance.

We have enough behaviour related outbursts that I have NO IDEA what caused them that I try and head off any I know could occur. So sometimes that means letting her get away with things that I shouldn't.

Does my kid eat a balanced diet? No, but I remember my neurotypical younger brother who lived on cheese sandwiches and hot dogs for years as a child so I don't worry too much about it. She drinks fruit/veggie juice so she actually gets the required daily amount of fruits/veggies without having to actually eat a carrot or piece of broccoli - so we're both happy.

She likes to line things up...books, cars, etc. The Autism Centre where she has IBI doesn't like it when she does it and they encourage us to give her more appropriate things to do. Sometimes we stop her from lining things up (and deal with ensuing tantrums) and sometimes we just let her go because it relaxes her and makes her happy.

My goal with her is for her to be happy and behave in an age appropriate manner - the two don't have to be mutually exclusive.
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Old 09-12-10, 12:38 AM
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I agree with Jennimac. Every child is different and has their own likes and dis-likes. It's hard to define "age-appropriate" when you may have a 6 year old child, but their mental capacity is around 3 or 4 years. Sometimes that also plays a roll in how you should handle situations.

Lexy is a very picky eater, and I try to give her a GF diet as much as I can. We recently started to give her what the rest of us eat at dinner, because she has shown an interest in what we are eating. IE, will walk over to our plates and try to eat what we have. One night last week she ate spaghetti with garlic bread for the first time!! We were so thrilled and overjoyed! The very next night we had chicken and rice for dinner. I put the rice in front of her, and she went NUTS. I held her down, forced fed her, it was INSANE. All I could think about was the movie "Helen Keller" that we watched in school. Rice was EVERYWHERE, stuck on the walls, in the dogs fur who was trying to keep up with the flying food, etc. I gave it 10 mins, and gave up. She was so upset afterwards, I wondered if it was even worth it. She wouldnt come near me for almost an hour. But, I felt like I did a good job of trying to stick with it and not giving in right away. Would I have tried this outside of our home, not a chance. In those situations, you want the child to be comfortable. I think I believe its ok to push your child to a certain extent; but sometimes it may not be worth it. "Giving in" IMO is not an easy way out, its just the way it has to be sometimes.
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Thank you onemellogirl!
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Old 09-12-10, 12:59 AM
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When it comes to food I have to agree with the others. I may try to urge my children to eat something they don't want to, but we back down fairly quickly. Tristan is actually a very good eater and there is very little that you put in front of him that he won't eat.
But Kimmie, our non special needs kid once vomited shrimp on my after I stood my ground and forced her to eat once, an no she is not allergic to shellfish. So I've learned to pick my battles with food.
Now when out in public, I may let things slide that I shouldn't for the sake of keeping him comfortable and not having a public scene. For instance he still carries a sippy cup almost everywhere and it is the quickest wat to quiet him when he starts having a meltdown in public.
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