As our year comes to an end I am trying to get through to one of our young men who continues to be physically and verbally disrespectful to his teachers and school staff. Blaze is our most challenging autistic who is the king of finding loopholes so that he can get out of whatever it is he doesn’t want to do. I have been working with him and his therapist for months on how he talks to his teachers, how he addresses his school work, and how he addresses people in his life when he is not hearing what he wants to hear.
Today I had an epiphany of getting into his world and letting him see how his behaviors have been. I started asking him about the character a hero shows when he has interactions and Blaze quickly recapped that they treat everyone nicely even when people are rude, they try to help not harm people, and they are always willing to learn.
Next I asked him to tell me the characteristics of villain and again Blaze was quick to voice that villains are rude, disrespectful to everyone even if they are trying to help them, and they will go out of their way to get out of doing things they don’t want to do.
Hum doesn’t that sound a lot like the kid I described above! I then asked if his behaviors are more like the hero or the villain. He thought for a minute and then said, well I guess I have been more like the villain. I gave him time to let that percolate as we call it on his team. He thought for a while and said “yeah I have been a pretty decent villain, but I really wanted to be the hero”. I asked what was keeping him from being the hero and he was able to voice that his anger always takes over.
Lightbulb moment I start talking about the Hulk. I asked him how the doctor was able to keep Hulk away even when he is upset? Blaze answered “he works really hard to only let the Hulk out when he needs him. He has learned to manage his anger”. I took that and ran…….. so why can’t you use the skills you have learned to keep your Hulk hidden?
A few minutes pass and Blaze honestly answered, “I haven’t tried”. Ok so we are down at square one right! Now I have to be very careful on how we rebuild this picture for him. So we go over how the doctor moves away from people that make him angry and we talk about how he can ask to take a break when he is frustrated in class or at home. We talked about the doctor choosing to fight the urge to be Hulk and using deep breathing, guided imagery, and even sensory or distraction to keep his anger and rage in check.
Again the percolator is starting to bubble. As we sat there a few minutes Blaze started just listing the things that he could do to improve the situation. The conversation ended with a lot of praise, but that now the work really begins because he now needs to focus on harnessing his anger and rage instead of letting it harness him.
We have always used the hero or villain approach to tattling as it is something that most kids can relate to. Now we can use those same cue words with Blaze and not draw a lot of attention from the other children. I will keep everyone posted on the successfulness of this theory later on!