Inadvertently Supporting Challenging Behaviors


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Children’s Speech Therapy Center


Dear Children’s Speech Therapy Center,

I’m thinking about getting my daughter with autism a play tent, but she already likes to withdraw and hide. Should I be encouraging this behavior?

— Concerned Parent


Dear Concerned Parent,

First, let me start by saying it’s great you are exploring options when considering new toys and activities for your child with special needs. It’s important we look at the behaviors that we might be inadvertently supporting. Your daughter has a need to hide, despite how much we want her to join in with us. The boundaries and safeness found in tight spots gives comfort to our children and helps them understand where their body is in space (proprioception). She will always seek a place to hide and providing a play tent for her gives you the power to choose where she hides now. Before the play tent, she may have been hiding in toy boxes or cabinets, which are not only unsafe but less developmentally appropriate. The tent not only provides her with a more socially appropriate hiding place, but also gives you the opportunity to play in the tent with her. The walls of the tent will increase her attention towards you by blocking out any distractions.

We should try to consider working with certain behaviors, rather than against them, to the best of our ability. For another example, many children enjoy rough play and will crash on couches while running around the house. While rough play can pose serious safety concerns, channeling this energy into an organized sport such as karate gives our children not only the outlet to release this energy, but also structure and discipline while being rough.

Most behaviors our children exhibit, such as hiding and rough play, are rooted in sensory needs that can be met in more appropriate ways. It is important that you discuss these behaviors and ways to channel them more appropriately with your child’s support team. Some behaviors can even be turned into important life skills, such as helping with laundry by having the child who likes rough play carry the basket upstairs (excellent heavy work), and the child who likes to have everything neat help by folding the laundry. Try to see how you can turn headache behaviors into functional skills or more appropriate play behaviors.

Susan Morgan, MS, CCC-SLP


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Children’s Speech Therapy Center (CSTC) is a well-known private practice specializing in pediatric speech therapy and conveniently located in Ashburn, VA. When your child needs a speech and language professional, navigating all your options can be time-consuming and frustrating!

Let Children’s Speech Therapy Center help! Their team provides diagnostic and therapeutic services including screenings, evaluations, and therapy for all ages, from infancy to adolescence. From more routine challenges to complex conditions, their team of licensed and accredited speech language pathologists are prepared to help with your child's unique speech and language needs.

Learn more, including what insurances they accept, by connecting: Online | Facebook | Services | FAQs | Contact.


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