We all know that kids whine! It’s practically a rite of passage at the toddler age then again in the tween-teenage years and sometimes all ages in between! Sometimes though when our children with special needs whine it means much more. Well-meaning parents, caregivers or teachers may say to “Use your Words!” but what if the child does not have any words? Or can’t motor plan the words they are thinking to speak them out loud using the complex muscles and movements of the jaw, tongue, teeth and lips? Many of our children, especially those along the autism spectrum, get caught up in frustration that can turn into a full blown meltdown when their needs are not understood or met despite their best efforts to use their words. Here are a couple of great ideas that may work as you bridge the gap between whining and words:
Use a written and/or pictorial schedule for what is expected, such as everyday chores with key activities shown. This may help with transitions and reduce overall anxiety.
Simple shape and letter magnets can become a great communication means on a refrigerator or file cabinet. Place key shapes and letters where the child can reach them to point to and/or move to help express their needs/wants. Look for magnetic puzzles such as the magnetic healthy foods to use as symbols for food or drink, or Letter Magnets if the child is able to spell but not speak simple words and/or to reinforce both.
Do you have a favorite strategy to deal with whining? Please share with us. Let’s make all spaces from home to clinic a No Whining Zone!