Thursday, January 17, 2013

crash into me - not just a dave matthews song; a realization about my son

imagine a five year old, 45 pound boy running with all his might toward you and crashing full force into you.  that's what harrison does to me.  a lot.  and i do not like it - it hurts!  sometimes he will crash into me from behind and catch me completely unaware.  those times are the worst because i'm not able to prepare for the blow. 

i've seen him do this to jeremy, too.  and to papa.  i know jer doesn't like it.  i think papa is more tolerant than we are.  either that or he is just too nice to say anything about it.  but jeremy and i have told harrison again and again that he needs to stop crashing into us!  it is not nice!

so far our pleas for him to stop have fallen on deaf ears.  he either forgets or he just doesn't care.

i've noticed an increase to this behavior, and more of a pattern to it, recently.  it seems to me that harrison crashes (into people) when he is excited.

everyday when i pick harrison up from school he runs at me - not toward me like the typical kindergartener, but at me like a bull in a bullring.  his purpose isn't to hug me, it's to tackle me.

i've noticed this behavior at other times, too.  when we tell him that he gets to go to meme and papa's house, for example.  or when meme and papa come to our house for a visit.  or when other people come over for a play date.  anytime he's really happy about something, he crashes into us.  it seems that excitement is an overwhelming emotion for him.  he has trouble processing it and expressing it in normal ways, perhaps by saying "i'm so excited!" or by jumping up and down.  so, instead, he crashes into people.  

now.  he is not being mean.  he has no negative intentions.  here's what i've learned...

harrison does not, cannot, understand why we don't like for him to crash into us.  he doesn't realize that he is hurting us because crashing into us doesn't hurt him at all.  it feels really good to him!

and, further, he's not doing it on purpose.  it's more of a natural instinct for him - and instant reaction.  whereas when i get excited i might say "yippee!", when he gets excited he crashes.  simple as that.

as i've been reading, i believe (although i could be wrong) this behavior falls into proprioceptive category.  one of our eight senses, the propricoception sense has to do with our joints and muscles and is responsible for giving and receiving pressure.  for example, how much pressure do you need to use to hold a pencil?  or how does it feel to receive the pressure from a hug?  can you judge how much pressure you need to throw a ball a certain distance?

in the instances when his body is trying to process an extreme emotion (what would typically be a normal emotion for most is extreme to him), it seems that harrison is completely ignorant about the appropriate amount of pressure to apply.  an extreme amount feels good to him.

i have to admit that this realization and learning the background behind the behavior has helped me considerably!  knowledge and understanding are truly beautiful things!  harrison may be ignorant about how much pressure is appropriate, but i was ignorant about his behavior.  

before, i would get so upset with harrison for hurting me and for disobeying me (because he knows he's not supposed to crash into me like that!).  now, i let him run as hard as he can and do my best to catch him.

and i find other ways throughout the day to roughhouse and get some crashing out.  both harrison and graham think it is to use a pillow as a battering ram in an attempt to knock me down.  they run at me with all their strength and i block them and knock them backward.  they land hard on their tooshies but continually get up and come back for more!

so one of harrison's little quirks = another eye-opening lesson for me.

we've discussed his crashing behavior with him.  we've explained that we understand it makes him feel really good but that it hurts us.  and we've explained that he is not ever allowed to crash into his brother or friends.  (although maybe we should sign him up for football.  defensive tackle anyone?)  so far, i believe this behavior, as with most of his behaviors, are only displayed with people harrison loves and feels comfortable with.  for the most part harrison does an incredible job of regulating his behavior while he's around others, which, i'm learning, is a testament to how smart he is.  his smarty-pants brain has developed lots of coping mechanisms to make up for his struggling sensory system.

i am so thankful for that.

and i am so thankful to god for revealing these things to me.  i consider each little realization a blessing.   

i am so curious to see how this crashing instinct, along with his chewing/oral seeking, will improve once we start therapy.  and i can't wait to share those results with you!

** updated to add i have submitted this post to the spd blogger network

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