Stop Hitting!

I am so incredibly frustrated with Tad.  He is quickly approaching six years old, and he’s come so far with therapy and school and his academic skills.

His social skills, on the other hand…

We were at Friend and Doc’s house yesterday for Ane’s weekly piano lesson and a lunch play date.  We were just winding down (I had pushed off Rerun’s nap to the limit, and while he wasn’t cranky, he was rubbing his eyes quite a bit), when Tad decided to take a foam bat to Head’s head.  Head burst into tears, and Tad went running, because I had seen the whole thing, knew it was completely unprovoked, and Tad knew when he heard me that he was busted.

He was made to apologize (“Sorry, Head, I no hit with the bat”), and Head was made to accept the apology, but clearly, both the Brain and Head have had their fill of Tad’s antics, especially when it comes to hitting.

I’m not sure when this is ever going to stop.  Part of it is that when Tad is around the Brain and Head, it’s always at their house or ours, which I consider to be “uncontrolled” environments for Tad (i.e. not school, church or therapy).  Whenever Tad is left to play on his own with other children, he simply cannot control himself.  Sometimes the kids will just back off and leave him alone.  Other times, like with the Brain and Head, they present as easy targets and Tad just lashes out.

And, then there’s Ane and Rerun.  We try to prevent Rerun being left alone with Tad, just because we know that Tad could really hurt him.  Rerun finds some of Tad’s attentions funny, like Monday night, when Tad was hitting him with a stuffed shark.  Rerun was actually giggling, which was just encouraging Tad, which I finally put a stop to because I never know when Tad was just going to cut loose and really whack him one.  Ane and Tad scrap regularly, and she’s old enough to keep an upper hand with him, but that will probably change someday.  However, she is the one person who he really wants to play with and is dependent on for a playmate.  It absolutely kills him whenever she has a friend over to play, because it means that he is left out.  And that’s really the only time that he ever feels “left out.”

As he gets older, his lack of self-control just becomes more stark in contrast to his peers.  We walk a delicate tightrope of asking other kids, including Ane, to play with him… and then we try to stand vigilantly over the play time so he doesn’t hurt anyone.  It’s exhausting.  It’s depressing.  And I really don’t see an end in sight.

All I can hope for is empathy from the parents, because the kids around him are fed up.  Goodness knows, I’m fed up.  I pray daily for some sign that he will develop self-control someday.

His speech has improved dramatically.  He can now express ideas and tell me his likes and dislikes.  He’s learning to present a “calm body” in ABA therapy.  It’s Shark Week, so he’s loving what’s on the TV right now.  He’s really focused on coloring books and is demonstrating that he can stay in the lines and use appropriate colors for objects (apples are red, Cookie Monster is blue), plus he’s using crayons, which means he’s working those fine motor skills and his writing grip.  I see SO much potential in him.

Which all ends the moment he takes a swing at someone else.

4 Responses to “Stop Hitting!”

  1. Nana
    August 3rd, 2011 07:58

    I can remember a certain boy getting aggressive when he had to leave his playmates. In frustration he would hit them. We would leave and I would talk with him in the car and bawl. There was a long period when he couldn’t control himself in those situations, but I can’t remember his age. It sometimes helped to make quick exits with me right beside him. He grew out of it. I pray you will see a change as time goes by.

  2. Stephenie
    August 3rd, 2011 09:47

    I could have written so much of this! This is our biggest problem. We can’t keep friends for my little guy right now and he hurts his sister so often! I feel so badly for her. Good luck trying to get a handle on it.

  3. Webmaster
    August 3rd, 2011 12:29

    The summer seems to be the worst. He may have gone through a month of summer school in July, but he’s three fully-unstructured-days into August and it’s only going to get worse until school starts again.

  4. Heather
    August 4th, 2011 04:45

    I have a 7-year-old boy on the spectrum and have experienced the same issues over the years. For the past several summers, I have sent my son to a camp that our ABA providers put on that exclusively works on social skills and behavior. It has definitely helped. Would your ABA provider come over and help facilitate a playdate? With my son, I feel like the behavior comes out because he wants to play and is just seeking any kind of attention to interact with his peers. Hang in there! It is so frustrating!