dealing with aggressive behaviour in 3 year old with severe speech and language delay?

(16 Posts)
Catsdontcare Mon 17-Oct-11 13:00:22

I'm using the term aggressive behaviour a bit loosely here because I'm not actually sure he is doing it out of aggression. Anyhow recently DS has started to be a bit pushy and shovey with other children at pre school. This is very new behaviour as he has been going for a year and never done it in the past.

It seems to be coinciding with a new awareness of children and him actually interacting with them more, whereas before he has alway been a bit oblivious and disinterested in other children.

His speech is very delayed and his understanding of language is also delayed which makes him quite immature for his age so I'm struggling to find away to communicate with him that pushing and hitting isn't acceptable.

He gets time outs and he will say sorry willingly, although I'm not sure he is saying it in the genuine sense of the word!

I really want to find a way to nip this behaviour in the bud, I'm feeling really stressed and worried about his development issues as it is without him alienating himself further from other children by hurting them or not respecting their personal space (his idea of a cuddle is rugby tackling you to the ground and holding you in a bear hug!)

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Catsdontcare Mon 17-Oct-11 17:02:34


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cjn27b Mon 17-Oct-11 17:38:39

This all sounds so familiar. DS (just turned three) has speech and language delay. After much SLT it's getting better. We had 8 months of biting (he was about 14 months old when that began). We had eye gouging (that didn't last long, stated at about 12 months). We now have him running towards people grinding his teeth and making a 'grrr' sound, then stopping when he gets to them.

A lot would appear to relate to frustration and not really knowing how to communicate certain things. I think the biting was probably his way of showing he's angry, confused, doesn't understand, doesn't want to do something etc... Once he learnt to communicate that in another way it stopped. We also found that telling him off / time out etc didn't work as negetive attention was better than no attention. So we literally ignored it.

We also have rather bizarre cuddles. Rather enthusiastic and almost forced.

Anyway, as we do more SLT and he communicates more it all gets a bit better. We continue with time out for day to day stuff, but just ignore the bonkers bits of behaviour and they normally pass.

You could try the I-CAN helpline. They're great and will make an appointment for a SLT to call you. Also you may have a local drop in SLT clinic which might be able to help.

Good luck. It's flipping hard work... There's a great thread on here with lots of parent of young kids with speech and langague delays. You might want to try.

Catsdontcare Mon 17-Oct-11 18:14:18

Thanks cjn I also tend to play it down abit at home but I'm feeling a bit under pressure with the pre school. I do think in some ways it's just his way of starting an interaction or his way of saying no.

We have been seeing a SLT and she's made great progress with him. i will search out that thread. Thank you for your post

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lingle Mon 17-Oct-11 19:14:57

Hi, two kids with resolved receptive language delay here.

I agree with cjn - and with you as you are approaching the problem at home.

From what you've said so far, it doesn't sound as though nursery have realised the significance of the development. Do you rate them in terms of their understanding of his needs?

I think if you've already got a good SLT I would ask her advice. I suspect she'll know whether he's at the developmental stage where she would expect these clumsy attempts to interact.

if nursery don't seem to "get it", perhaps she would write them a letter and suggest some strategies?

If you suspect that nursery are trying to discipline him above the level of his understanding, then it's a nursery problem I think. We moved our son into a state school nursery at 3 and there was a big difference in their level of skill.

Catsdontcare Mon 17-Oct-11 22:14:08

Hi lingle thank you for posting, we've "chatted" before when I was under a different name and this was all just starting for us and you were a great help then.

I'm VERY confused about pre school at the moment (they are a state pre school). They are fully up to speed on ds's issues, the SALT has spoken to them many times, I copy them in on any reports and they have been given advice and targets to by a senco.

It has been been clearly stated that many of ds's behaviours will be through lack of understanding and not out of bad behaviour and I thought we were all on the same page, however a few things recently has made me lose confidence in them and now I honestly don't know what to do.

I do think they are discipling him outside his level of understanding. I don't have an issue with them using time out but they have also at time withheld privaleges such as outdoor playtime which I think he would not of understood at all.

I don't doubt their experience but I do feel they are quite a strict, rigid pre school.

I really don't know what to do sad

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ThePumpkinofDoomandTotalCha0s Mon 17-Oct-11 22:20:30

my ds also had receptive language delay. at that age I kept language for discipline v v simple indeed - "no, naughty", and "gentle hands". I don't think my boy would have understood time out (but obv if you find that works for you, then you know your child best). if they are not letting him have playtime as punishment - well that's a bad idea on many levels - as hes not likely to associate a delayed cause and effect, hes likely to feel more frustrated if hes not burning off excess energy, and he needs support socialising at playtime, not having social opportunities restricted.

Catsdontcare Mon 17-Oct-11 22:27:01

I don't think time out does work tbh pumpkin and i don't use it often, it's just hard because the older dc get frustrated if they think he hasn't been "dealt" with.

Sod I need to speak to them don't I? Unfortunatley I think I gave the impression I was fine with it all but tbh it was pick up time and i didn't want to talk about it in front of all the other parents.

Really feel like I'm getting it all wrong at the minute.

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ThePumpkinofDoomandTotalCha0s Mon 17-Oct-11 22:28:59

no, you're not doing it wrong, collection time is not a good time to have a proper conversation, try and arrange a meeting with pre-school senco about it. and if you really feel they can't meet his needs, then don't be afraid to look at other settings.

cjn27b Tue 18-Oct-11 08:50:55

You are so NOT doing it all wrong. While I totally understand you might feel like that at times - speech and language delay is really complex - you are supporting you child, you are watching what's going on, and you are wanting the best for him so he can fulfil his potential. All of that is the right way of handling this situation. Keep on fighting his corner, he's lucky to have a mum like you.

lingle Tue 18-Oct-11 09:48:12

"Sod I need to speak to them don't I?"

it does sound like it doesn't it? If they've been good so far they might just need a little "tweak" to get them looking at it from a different angle.

I guess you'll need to take a little time at the beginning to demonstrate your understanding that they have to think of the other kids' needs (the one who got shoved) as well as his (I know that you are thinking this but they'll meet many parents who get very defensive).

I wonder what good strategies would be - has salt any suggestions? I'm imagining they need to guide his interactions in some way.....

Catsdontcare Tue 18-Oct-11 14:54:05

I totally understand their need to protect the other children and to be seen as dealing with things fairly and I don't want them to tolerate any aggressive behaviour from ds, I'm just concerned that withdrawing playtime an hour after the incident is pointless and counter productive as I really don't think ds will link the two.

We are seeing the salt on fri so will chat with her then about strategies. I've been practicing "gentle touch's" "gentle cuddles" with him today. Other than that and time outs I'm a little lost.

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lingle Tue 18-Oct-11 15:08:38

it's a fine line isn't it? Yes of course protecting all the children is their number 1 priority and they will realise you understand that and that you are all on the same side.

But I think the next priority is disciplining your son at his developmental stage, not his notional age.

And lowest of all comes being seen to act fairly. I don't think they should do that at the cost of getting things right for your son.

Mks2708 Fri 24-May-19 16:37:18

I know this thread is years old but I wondered how your son progressed?

AladdinMum Sat 25-May-19 00:15:30

@Mks2708 if you search her name on mumsnet some of her later posts (two years after this post) she said that her son was diagnosed with autism. From the description she gave on this post her son had very significant receptive and expressive language delays. On these later posts she also stated that he finally started talking after 3 years old but that his speech was very echolalic - all very classic signs of autism.

MissEyre Sun 26-May-19 10:03:34

Mks feel free to post more.

This old thread was about discipline needing to match levels of understanding. That’s an issue regardless of diagnosis

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