Help outfit Michael, Sarah, and John

Sunday, October 09, 2011


Iryna has been pinching her arms and cheeks on purpose a lot the past two weeks. Any ideas of how I can redirect her to change these behaviors?

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suzanne said...

I am so impressed with the shredding of paper that you are providing for Iryna. That is really using your intuition as her mother, and meeting her needs. I also think writing about the pinching is inspired. You are really on track for recognizing this problem. I might have a few suggestions, but I do know that if my suggestions aren't appealing, too hard, or don't work, you do need to seek help for Iryna very soon.
The pinching is a self destructive behavior. It is MUCH easier to stop NOW, but it still will be extremely difficult. Self destructive behaviors escalate very rapidly. She is getting a much needed stimulation, that can do a downward spiral very quickly. It can get horrible and scary faster than you can imagine. Things like biting holes in herself and then trying to pull what is inside out, cutting, and many other things occur quickly when the pinching no longer satisfies with enough stimulation. I can't urge you enough to get help quickly. We had a 3 year old that was attending our preschool when I was in college, and even with professionals right there it went bad quickly. The child had to be hospitalized and watched carefully 24 hours a day, and given alternatives that satisfied when the self destructive behavior was controlled and taken away.
Possible suggestions for right now: bubble wrap to pop. It would take a large supply, available as often and as much as she could or would want or need to use. It has to be right there to be able to use it constantly instead of the pinching. Clay. Try play dough , lots of it, or move on to the type of clay that you use to make pottery if playdough doesn't help with enough stimulation. Use the clay as a special help to add extra stimulation at intervals throughout the day. Iryna needs to be able to come to you when she wants or needs to use it, and when you see her need it, and have it available for those trying situations. With the play dough, have it available again 24/7. Let her sleep with some in her hand. It needs to be as available as the pinching is. Peanut butter play dough is also a neat stimulus. Not only able to play with but it also brings in the new sensation of taste. So, peanut butter play dough would be a good starter, trying to go down to regular play dough when sitting in church, bed, etc. Computer games/iPad. The newest amazing educational tool for special needs children is the iPad. Their fingers are the controllers, making it quite easy to use. It would give plenty of stimulation to meet Iryna's need. So many free apps are available that would educate while meeting the stimulation need. Obviously, you'd need to encase it in an otter-box or some other type of armor to prevent damage before you could let her use it. I've read several on-line articles of amazing successes of special need children being able to overcome their handicap and show their true intelligence levels with the use of IPads. Then you have the "old school" standbys to keep hands busy: sewing cards that they use yarn to "sew" around. Braiding. Get 3 colors of yarn, tie 20 or so pieces of yarn of each separate color, about a yard long, together. Anchor these three sections of yarn to a piece of wood to create the tension required to braid. It will take some time to teach her to braid, but when she learns, it almost becomes an obsession. They can hardly stop. Great stimulus to keep those hands busy.

suzanne said...

Again though, I must urge you to get her to a specialist that has worked with these behaviors and recognizes how quickly it intensifies and how harmful it becomes. The next step is easily pinching a hole in her skin, and doing that over and over all over her body, and then pulling what is inside outside.
The last thing I want to do is say these things to you, but I have seen it go bad, and you don't want to go there. Prevention of the self stimulation is hard, as I have said, but the sooner you start, the easier it is.
Good luck, Iryna is such a sweet child. I know it is so difficult to constantly be faced with her illness. It's ok to be angry with the illness. She didn't choose this either. She has such a desire to please, and then to have an illness that makes it so difficult to control her impulses must break her little heart. I am so impressed with your constant vigilance in helping her. I know it's hard. If I can help in any way, please ask. Much love and best wishes to each of you.

Sorry this is so long.