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BellaOnline's Children with Special Needs Editor

Problem Behavior and Family Stress

Some days, moms of children with special needs can be overwhelmed by problem behavior. The most difficult times can be when a child has endured a difficult time, a long evaluation or procedure, if they are worn out or just overstimulated. Children cannot be held to the same standards of self control and stamina as adults, and their age appropriate responses to stressful situations are not the same as garden variety misbehavior. Their 'meltdowns' can be heartbreaking, frustrating, and embarrassing all at the same time.

The compassion we feel may cause us to delay or do without disciplining a child who is facing health or developmental challenges more often than mothers of mainstream children. Sometimes we just don't want to add to the stress of a situation by holding a child to household rules that would only complicate a difficult time. Unfortunately, children with special needs can develop bad habits as readily as any of their peers.

If your child has a diagnosis, it is more likely that extremes in behavior will be attributed to the specific condition, the challenges that child faces, or just not feeling well. Eventually, milder problem behavior might also be excused for the same reasons.

Children with special needs do need to know what is expected of them and to trust that consequences will follow problem behavior just like any other child. It's a complicated balancing act to be fair and consistent, but we do the best we can with what we know and who we are at the time.

We welcome discussion of any of these topics at the SNC forum at

Family Village Library and Search - Positive Behavioral Support

Central Auditory Processing Disorder

One Two Three Magic

Dr. Mac's Amazing Behavior Management Advice Site for Teachers - Thomas McIntyre

The Behavior Survival Guide for Kids by Thomas McIntyre

Please read this article before implementing ABA in your classroom or home:
Quiet Hands

Accessible Playgrounds and Naturally Integrated Play Areas

University of Oregon Resources
Positive Behavior Support at School

University of Oregon Resources
Difficult Behaviors and Successful Interventions
Function Based Support at School

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