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Screaming from speech-delayed 3.4 year old

(8 Posts)
MummytoMog Mon 07-Jan-13 14:41:48

So DD has a speech delay and delayed social development, no formal diagnosis, lots of (unhelpful) speculation on the part of speech therapists and the educational psychologist as to whether she is ASD. She is 3.4 and can understand very simple commands, lots of nouns but not complex sentences. She also has glue ear, although to what extent we don’t know as she’s only had one audiology appointment so far.

Christmas has been quite difficult in terms of her behaviour. She doesn’t deal well with being thwarted but over Christmas she has started this hideous screaming thing, where she just starts screaming at me. It’s really hard to tell how serious she’s being about it. I’ve tried saying ‘silly noise, mummy no like’ and other variations, or simply no. I’ve tried screaming back. The only successful thing is to say in a similarly high pitched and excitable tone ‘oh no, what’s the matter, what’s the matter’ which makes her laugh and stop screaming, but it’s not really addressing the problem. I managed to get her to stop throttling her brother with excessively vigorous hugs by sitting her down and talking to her quite sternly about it, but she was really upset and cried and I think that might be a bit of an overreaction (or not, happy to be disagreed with). I’m also not sure how to express the ‘no scream’ policy in a way that she’ll understand. She does know the word scream.

To be honest, discipline in general is a mare with DD. There seems to be no middle ground between ignoring bad behaviour or distracting her from it and being so stern with her that she has a hysterical weeping fit and has to be cuddled for hours. I don’t think she’d get time outs, although I do sometimes withdraw attention when she’s done something horrid to her brother, I don’t really like the message it sends to her. Sticker charts are without her level of comprehension I think (so hard to tell). She’s generally very nicely behaved at home, but that’s because things are specifically arranged to avoid conflict. I think it’s trickier at nursery (although the CM doesn’t seem to have much of a problem).

My friend who is a physio with special needs children suggested that the screaming might be a glue ear thing, that it produces a fun auditory stimulation for her. She does enjoy spinning and quite often shouts ‘whee, whee’ as she’s doing it. She only has the opportunity to spin at bedtime though, and the screaming happens ALL THE TIME.

Any suggestions for the screaming particularly and the discipline in general? I should also say that she did have tonsilitis and conjunctivitis over Christmas, and her behaviour is noticeably worse when she's poorly. And her bleeding grandparents don't understand that she needs a bit of space now and then.

osospecial Mon 07-Jan-13 19:11:10

Hi again mummytomog, I don't know about the screaming related to glue ear thing, my dd has had glue ear but only for a short while, so can't help with that sorry. Dd has always liked high pitched noise though so i can sympathise. Dd can make silly high pitched noises/babbling that can give you a headache after a while! Like your dd, her understanding is limited and it's hard to discipline her. I just tell her 'dd no, shhh' with a finger over my mouth and sometimes cover her mouth (gently) for a second and say ssshh. She seems to understand what I'm saying and if she continues I just try and distract her instead then. Not sure if your dd is the same but visual clues work better than verbal with my dd. I tend to show her what i mean while saying no. Also in the middle of a temper tantrum I count 1-5 on my fingers, for some reason this calms dd down and stops her screaming (sometimes!)

PrinceRogersNelson Mon 07-Jan-13 19:34:06

She sounds like my DD! Also speech delayed. She is 4.1 so a bit older and the screaming is less than it used to be, but she has just screamed in the bath as her older brother got in the front first. And it is screaming. The noise is awful and actually reduces her 6 year old brother to tears. It is a truly awful noise.

What works for us is telling her sternly that she has to use her words, but not shouting at her - that makes is so much worse and really upsets her.

Distraction - like you say. If we can make her laugh then she will snap out of it.

Also 1-2-3 helps. She will often respond to that.

If I voice for her what has upset her that can calm her down.

She is better than she was. And we have her on a gluten and dairy free diet which has helped (but she has also always had trouble with her bowels).

Incidentally she also likes spinning and making a squeaking noise as she does it. This has also reduced since going gluten and dairy free, but she will still do it if stressed and/or excited.

But she is a different kettle of fish than her NT brother. There is no point reading what works for all kids as it is specific to her

marchduck Mon 07-Jan-13 20:12:52

MummytoMog, might it be possible that the spinning, vigorous hugging and screaming are sensory behaviours, your DD is maybe feels a bit under-sensitive to some things and is seeking out the movement from spinning/pressure from hugging/sound from screaming?
Have you seen an Occupational Therapist - it might be worth thinking about getting a referral to one. My DD has seen a fair few different therapists and was also referred to OT. I was a bit dubious about it at first, mainly because I didn't know what the OT was going to do, and I had it in my head that it was the same as physiotherapy, which DD doesn't need. As it turned out, the OT sessions were probably the most helpful we have had - the OT did a lot of work on processing and sequencing, and she gave me lots of practical advice on managing behaviour.
Hope your DD has recovered now - it's awful to be sick anytime, let alone at Christmas.

PrinceRogersNelson Mon 07-Jan-13 20:41:55

Hi marchduck - can I jump in here and ask what difference OT has made?

My DD has processing problems and has problems with motor planning. She has speech and language disorder which I think it all linked to this I think. She is also under responsive to sensory things - hence the spinning, screaming, still putting everything in her mouth, the need to be held a lot.

Anyway we have had speech therapy (privately) and it has made a huge difference to her and I am now thinking about OT.

We saw an OT on the NHS last and they were a bit useless tbh.
Said she had quite severe processing problems but didn't seem to know or be interested in sensory processing. And anyway there isn't anything available on the NHS so it is a moot point. So I am now thinking about paying privately, but like you don't really know what difference it would realistically make?

Thanks and sorry MummytoMog for the hijack.

PoshCat Mon 07-Jan-13 21:43:54

My DD aged 4.3 sounds very similar. She has some sensory seeking behaviours, shouts and screams over what seems to be nothing ( he brother accidently touching her on the elbow for example) and also has severe language delay, some associated social delays and has (for now anyway) been ruled out as having an ASD.
Counting to 5 works well usually for making her stop and calm down.
No practical advice but helpful hearing of others with similar issues with their little ones. smile

marchduck Mon 07-Jan-13 22:16:48

Hi Prince, the main benefit from the OT(NHS) was showing me how to structure activities for DD by breaking them down to help with motor planning / understanding, and to help to maintain her attention/interest in them. The OT also gave me help with using visuals which has been beneficial. Probably all quite straightforward, but it was helpful to me as I wasn't doing any of it at that time.
All the best to you and your DD, it's great that she's doing so well with speech therapy.

MummytoMog Mon 07-Jan-13 23:09:36

At the moment the shouting happens if we raise our voices, talk over her or something happens on TV she doesn't like. It's really new, she's never liked shouting, but she's never had a problem with us talking before.

I did wonder if it was sensory seeking. She doesn't want us to cuddle her vigorously, she is quite cuddly, but doesnt need squeezing or bear hugs or anything. She has a hearing loss, which is probably variable thanks to the lovely glue ear, so I thought it might be about trying to hear something. She had antibiotics for a week before Christmas, so could probably hear for a bit. But then she got tonsillitis, so probably couldn't hear again. She's always enjoyed spinning or rocking. We had to confiscate her rocking moose because she would go zombie on it.

Anyhow, she has audiology again soon, and we have a new friendly GP, so I might ask for an ENT referral, and discuss the sensory seeking behaviour. I carried on the distraction tonight, and it does seem to be the quickest way to stop the screaming. Sigh. I sound like a madwoman doing it.

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