Yesterday I wrote a post about a position I held years ago. Residential group homes have several individuals who need varied levels of support to assist them in leading an ordinary life in the community. The job responsibilities are usually similar to that of a mom, dad or legal guardian to a child or young adult. The abilities of the people living in the home can vary greatly. Some individuals may need assistance with physical mobility issues only and some may require supports with behavioral issues. I was taking care of a very active 6 foot man who generally had a very jovial and kind spirit. He however, had a diagnosis of explosive disorder and very short fuse when it came to hearing the word no. This seemed to trigger something inside that usually sent him running off with his pointer finger in the air making shooting sounds, pshhhhh, pshhhhh, pshhhhh. If his “traveling road show” happened to interfere with a housemate’s peace and quiet and they spoke up in a negative way things could quickly escalate into and out of control situation.
As a caregiver or parent when we are in charge of a group of individuals there are usually many times in a day when you use the word no. You don’t realize this until every time you say it someone gets agitated and rushes of saying “Why you, pshhhhh, pshhhh, pshhhhh”. The Behavior Plan was to react with positive redirection. I quickly found that using the fewest words worked well for me. Simply saying the name of an activity that he liked could redirect his thought. “Ghostbusters” and then proceed to putting the movie on worked. There were time however that this wouldn’t be interesting to him. If he asked for “orange juice” and we didn’t have it in the house “buy some at the store” worked well. “Put it on a list” or “dinner first” were also workable solutions.
There were times when his agitation would escalate to grabbing others, pinching and scratching and even grabbing in a choke hold manner. He was very capable of major property damage as well. Knocking over large TV sets breaking glass and tearing down curtains. After getting to know him well and building up a friendship and trust my favorite and most successful go to method of calming him down was to quickly position myself between him and the person or object he was going toward and taking his hands or wrists and holding them while looking him in the eyes and singing the song “He’s got the whole world in his hands”. He liked going to church. He loved singing this song, and he liked it when you placed his name into a verse. “He’s got _____ ______ in his hands”.
We should all put some thought into how often we respond with a quick no and think of possible ways that we can answer or respond without using it at all. Toddler years when they are exploring their surroundings are a perfect example. Although it is necessary to redirect them from harm at the end a day of many “NO’S” they often fall to the floor into a major meltdown kicking and screaming. Offering positive options instead of simply a NO can be much more enjoyable for parent/caregiver and child. Be sure to try it and pass it on to promote peace. 🙂
With respect, hope, joy and love, Carmela