Meltdowns at the Mall

It happens to all of us… Especially this time of year… We all have seen it. What am I talking about? Meltdowns at the mall. 

It’s not limited to people with diagnoses and it can happen to the best of us. People are frustrated by the long lines and wait times, they may be aggravated with all of the noise, they could even just be hungry or tired. Someone’s nerves could be frayed for any number of reasons. Vocal individuals may yell, stomp, off or complain (excessively). For non-vocal individuals they may cry, drop to the floor, or start engaging in self-injurious behaviors. 

I’m not here to talk about the other adults we may encounter. The best I can say to you about them is to try to maintain the spirit of the holiday season. I already know that I may come in contact with all kinds of people while out shopping. I try to stay positive and keep myself happy and bright. I also try to compliment the store personnel that are doing the same. I have often found (non-scientifically speaking, of course) that happy people working behind the counter tend to greet people in a more pleasant way and keep their lines moving. However, my concern with meltdowns is our clients and what we can do to help them be more successful. 

Here are a few proactive strategies that may provide some assistance…

  1. Go shopping at off times. If you are going to the mall, try to be there when they first open in the morning. Most times the crowd is smaller in the early morning and it will likely be quieter. You can also try going right before they close, if you know exactly what you need to get and where it is.
  2. Make sure your child has eaten. I know I get a bit crabby when I haven’t eaten and I’m not the only one out there who does. Sometimes, having a snack or a meal before heading out can go a long way towards someone remaining in a good mood.
  3. Don’t forget their communication method or device. Behaviors are a way of communicating. If I have a easier way to communicate with you (signing, PECS, voice output device etc.) to ensure that I’m understood, then I won’t engages in other less effective methods. 
  4. Rest is important. Have you ever tried going to work to work tired? Shopping may be fun for you, but it could be work for your child. Make sure they are well rested before heading out.  
  5. Try a visual schedule and explaining what you all will be doing. Telling someone the plan can be helpful. Some of us may need a visual reminder of the plan as well. A visual schedule of the activities (in this case the stores you plan on visiting) can be an easy way to support your child. If you child can read, simply write out the list. If you child can’t read, then print pictures of the store’s logos (or signage) and put them on a list for your child. If you don’t know what stores you will be visiting, then let your child know that you all are going shopping for certain people and make a list of names (or pictures) for your child to check off. 
  6. Reinforcement is always key. Don’t underestimate the power of good reinforcement. A reinforcer is something that causes a behavior to increase. So, if you want to see continued positive behaviors when out, provide reinforcement. Remember, the reinforcer is not something you want. If your child doesn’t like cotton candy, then providing that as a reinforcer will not work. If your job switched out paying you in dollars for paying you in curtains, I doubt they would get the same level of work from you (if any). 
  7. Pack your patience. We all know the stores and malls can be hectic this time of year. Remember to be patience with your child and the others around you.

If you have tried these options and feel like you could use a little help, contact a professional to assist you. A board certified behavior analyst may be able to provide you with the extra boost to help you reduce the meltdowns. 

As always, we at Breakthrough Developmental Services are here to help. You can start by viewing our website and clicking “I’d like to take the first step.”

Have a great week,

Barbara Erby-Young

Workshops

Dear Reader:

I sent this link out in our recent newsletter, but I wanted to make sure everyone had a chance to respond. So, I am making our ultra quick survey about workshops available to all of our readers.

Click here to take this 1-minute survey.

Your input is greatly appreciated and it helps us plan better. Don’t let your voice go unheard!

Thanks for your input and have a wonderful day,

Barbara

What are your intentions?

Our choices reveal our intentions.

~Simon Sinek

Think before you act… Act, don’t react. I think it’s important to consider different aspects when making decisions. What is the end goal you are trying to accomplish? Where is it you want to be? I also consider that my actions have an impact on the generations that come behind me. This includes my own children, family members, and friends as well as those of the children and adults that I work with.

Sometimes, it can be hard. The decisions that we make everyday are not always the easiest to come to. I think we make the best decisions that we can based on the information we have available at the time. Sometimes, you have to pivot from your current path and make a small change that can have a big impact. Sometimes, you have to change paths all together.

A good example of this is the construction of a Service Treatment Plan (STP). When I sit down to determine the best course of action within a STP, I need to take several things into account. Medical history, likes/dislikes, the assessment I will be using, every bit of information about a person that I know. Once we have the STP in place and I need to make changes, I have to consider all of this information again plus what I have learned over the time that we have worked with the person and their family. Sometimes it’s not the chosen goal, but the objectives and the details (targets or teaching methods) that I need to change. Sometimes, we need to re-examine the assessment and results for something we may have missed. Regardless, I have to consider what we want as the end goal.

When it’s all said and done, I want my children and those I worked with to say that I tried to make the world a better place for them and others. I hope the choices I’ve made (especially as an adult) have shown that.

~Barbara

Back to School

I awoke this morning to a crisp, cool weather that reminds us that it’s almost that time of year again… Time to head back to school! What have you done to prepare for the first day of school? Are you taking a last minute vacation? Have you already started your school shopping? Well here are some tips from the staff of BDS to help make the first day of school a success.

Get those school supplies, but remember that each teacher may have their own list. However, items such as hand sanitizer and tissue are always welcome in classrooms.

Prepare a study space at home for children to do their homework in and make it conducive to learning. Let children take an active role in choosing the space as well a decorating it (if you can). This space can double as a space for therapy sessions. 

Get those sleep schedules back on track. We all allow children’s sleep patterns to get a bit off during their time out of school. Now is the time to get them back on track. Children should probably wake up or be woken up at the time they need to get up for school. 

In Maryland, children 4 and under are required nap time in school. If you know what time the school/classroom schedules naps, you may want to plan for that too. If you don’t know, try to get in contact with the school to find out when it will be. Remember, teachers go back before the students do.

Make meals match the school schedule. If you know what time your child will eat lunch at school, switch their lunch at home to that time. Include any snack times they would have at school. Once again, if you don’t know contact the school or teacher. 

Gentle reminders can help. Remind students that they are going to school next week. If your child does well with visual reminders, make a countdown calendar. 

Be creative with it. On the last page, put “The First Day of School 2019” with the date, a picture of the bus (if your child rides one) and the school. Include all fun facts about your child and don’t forget to take a picture of your child. 

Get your child to help you prepare for the first day. Have your student help lay out their clothes, fix their lunch (if they take one), and pack their backpack. These steps can also help with independence later in life. While you’re picking out clothing you can talk about colors, what the weather is supposed to be like for the week, and why the clothing is appropriate (think long pants versus shorts or long sleeves versus short sleeves). Take every opportunity you can to teach. 

Remember to lead with positivity and optimism. Discuss how you are both hoping for a great school year and how wonderful it will be to meet some new people or see some old ones. Students see so many people throughout their days. There are school administrative staff, teacher, other students, bus drivers, janitors, nurses… that’s a lot of people. I’m sure there are bound to be some old and new faces. 

We also want to talk about behaviors and skills the student will learn. Let your child know that you have some set expectations and goals in these areas. You may want to use phrases like, “I’m so excited to see what you learn this year and I’m expecting you to be on your best behavior.” If you think that is too much something like, “I’m really expecting the best from you,” might be the way to go. 

Most of us know what’s on the calendar for our students to learn this year, but we want to continuously provide encouragement and reinforcement for the behaviors and skills we want to see. Set your expectations high, but reasonable. I’m not expecting someone who is just learning to count to understand principles of macroeconomics by the end of the school year. 

If you need a bit more guidance and assistance getting ready for school, feel free to contact us at Info@BDSHelps.com. You can also give us a call at 855-255-5270. 

Wishing you a wonderful school year,

Barbara Erby-Young, BCBA, LBA

Preparing for Hazards: Emergency Protocols

As a follow up to my recent Emergency Protocol email, I wanted to post a few extra resources for people who were interested. I think it is important to prepare ourselves and our children for unseen emergencies.

While making a plan is important, practicing it is equally important. Knowing what to do in case of emergencies may help save your life, your child’s life, and that of any First Responders. If you would like a link to our Emergency Protocols form to help you prepare, feel free to email us at Info@BDSHelps.com. We will continue to add resources to this page as we locate them, so bookmark it for easy return.

Have a wonderful day and stay safe,

Barbara

Resources

 

Build A Kit

https://www.ready.gov/build-a-kit

How To Prepare For A Hurricane

https://www.fema.gov/media-library/assets/documents/98105 

23 Tips To Help You Prepare For Tornado Season

https://thesurvivalmom.com/23-tips-to-help-you-prepare-for-tornado-season/

Tips to Prepare for Tornado Season

https://www.allstate.com/blog/prepare-for-tornado-season/