Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Communication by Behavior (Reading the Signs) Revisited

This post is revisiting a topic I have covered several times in different ways since the beginning of this blog in 2005. It seems important to touch on it again because several parents have emailed about their frustration relative to their child’s behavior. A common line is “we are held captive to his behavior” or “it is impossible to plan anything because we never know she will respond”. Many want to know what medications Billy Ray takes or what medications will treat behavior problems with their child.

I am not anti medication but we use the very minimum necessary. I have found over the past 24 years of being Billy Ray’s Mom (he was adopted at 15 months old) that medication is a last resort for behavior issues. What works for us is reading the signs relative to his behavior. Two posts on this topic are Change is Coming – Reading Your Child’s Behavior and Reading Signs in my Complex Son. There are many others under the label Communication by Behavior.

When you allow your child to show you what he needs to feel safe and comfortable and adapt his environment, schedule, etc., etc. as close as possible to his comfort level life becomes much more comfortable for him and for the whole family.

Some have written that it is not fair for one member of the family to have things his way. I do understand that feeling. For me, it came to a point that I learned what Billy Ray can and cannot incorporate or understands. His logics are not mine. If he is confused by an aspect of the routine or environment we can get stuck and ruin a day or even longer periods of time. By doing things the way that he can understand or accept, it changes the flow of whatever we are doing. If that means we have to do things differently than another member of the family wishes but we will not get stuck it might well be worth it, depending on the situation.

Others have written that they don’t have time for the documentation, etc. suggested in Parenting Your Complex Child. My response is that being stuck with meltdowns or behavior issues takes more time than we realize. When we learn to read the signs, adapt to the child’s needs and communicate the child as he or she is to the professionals involved, it changes family life as well as the child’s. It takes time and initially a lot more energy than we might think we can muster but in the end it saves time, energy and frustration. It is really a choice of how you will spend your energy and that of your child and how much frustration you can cope with.

As aside, I am not keeping the blogs up the way I want, slower to answer email and moderate comments because I am getting more email and comments these days. I have decided that is partly my fault because many of the things I would respond is already on the blogs but hard to find because it has been archived by date. I changed the blog template today and am in the process of labeling every old post by categories. If you have any suggestions or comments please let me know.

Until next time,

Peggy Lou Morgan
For a list of my blogs and websites see