Monday, February 08, 2010

Nonsense questions and chattiness

A while back I talked about how Ahren would ask a single, nonsense question over and over and over. I'm not talking 5 or 6 times, I m talking 20, 30 or 40 times. Seriously. At the time, I didn't recognize it as a sign of an attachment disorder, but now I know. When he sat in his carseat and asked Daddy 47 times, 'What doing Daddy?', even though we answered him, it wasn't a sign of curiosity. Nope. Not at all. He knew what Daddy was doing. It wasn't about that. Not at all. He needed us to respond, no matter what, to him. He needed to hear us, to know we heard him, to be answering him no matter what. A control issue perhaps?

We have dealt with this in various ways. Answered him, given him nonsense answers, told him we know what he is doing and won't play, joked and teased. Somehow, it has worked and he is much better. Which one worked? I have no idea. He still asks non-sense questions, but not repeating like before.

Ahren likes to talk non-stop in the car. My theory is he knows we are a captive audience so we have to listen. He will talk and talk and talk and talk. Just to hear himself talk. He doesn't say anything that is conversational or we can answer, just non-stop chatter. We have been interrupting him with our own non-sense and it has slowed his chatter. He has to stop and think about what we say, form a response and it slows him down. We also play games like 'who can be quiet the longest', He is very competitive so this helps.

Any other ideas out there on how to deal with a small child and this behavior? I appreciate any and all ideas!!!


Angie said...

How do you know it is a sign of attachment disorder? I struggle with my 5 year old, but it doesn't seem like she has an attachment disorder. But she asks the crazy questions, and sometimes she "forgets" what a cookie is called, and still doesn't know the difference between a fork and spoon. What do you think? Cause I am not as patient as you and I am going crazy. :0)

Essie the Accidental Mommy said...

I have a biological daughter 18 months younger than my adopted daughter. The difference between them is that the younger one cannot stop the nonsense chatter, the older one with RAD can if she is motivated enough.
Quiet contests are great. Responding with a nonsense question also worked for us. Ahren might be too little, but we have given Genea a set number of questions for the day a few times. Shift the focus to something else, like tapping his legs or counting red cars might help.
Good luck! It makes me nutty!

Wendy said...

Angie, I only know it is a sign because that is what I have heard and read. It can also just be a child's personality trait. Things like 'forgetting' how to do something that you know they know (last week it was how to drink from a cup) can be a sign too. It's kind of an all-over picture. Ahren has quite a few of the signs, but it's pretty mild compared to other affected children. And yes, it drives me absolutely freakin nuts!

BT said...

Christine over at welcome to my brain dot net just did a video on this (not car chatter specifically). She had some great ideas in there. You are already doing some of them, as were we, but I got some great additonal ideas to try out.

Just to let you know, this is a trait that comes up in our healing RADling time and again. It ebbs and flows. Drives me absolutely bonkers whenever it's around. I try to remind myself to focus on the fact that the chatteriness is a sure sign that he's hurting or scared about something (hence the need for control). Wish I could see inside my kid to know what's eating at/scaring him and what he doesn't know how to deal with. Breathing helps too!

Three years old might be a hard age to start tackling this directly. I am wondering whether you could come at it indirectely by trying to find ways to soothe Ahren when he is doing this. e.g., Could someone significant take his hand and stroke it?

Diana said...

Nonsense questions and incessant chatter are definately a big sign of attachment issues. To answer Angie's question on how do you know? You study attachment (both what healthy attachment looks like as well as disorders) plus appropriate child behavior. Normal kid behavior is chattering or singing about what they learned in preschool or on Sesame Street. It's making a crazy noise over and over again just to hear it because they think it sounds cool.

Attachment based nonsense question, on the other hand, are exactly that. They are INCESSANT and they are rediculously obvious such as Ahren's "what are you doing" over and over and over again. You answer it, they respond, and then they ask again and again and again and again. The crazy chatter is the same thing. It's just non-stop talking. Sometimes it's related to a particular subject, but many times it's not. It's just chatter that never ends...and very often it ramps up if mom is talking to someone else.

Is it a control thing? Maybe. But my personal feeling is that it's a fear thing (which most trauma and/or attachment related things are.) Next time he starts with the chatter, try to look beyond it and see the fear that is driving it. Very often if you address that fear, the issue will subside (at least for that time.)

So, let's say you're going to the store. "Daddy, what are you doing?" "I'm driving the car to the store." "Oh." 5 seconds later "Daddy, what are you doing?" "Hmmm...I wonder...what do you think I'm doing?" "Driving the car" (or "I don't know " which is a swear word at our house or some other nonsense answer.") "It sounds to me like Ahren is afraid of going to the store?" You might have to make a guess or two at what he's really afraid of before you find the right answer. I always know when I've hit it with my kids because they either get snarky or defensive or they shut down. When I hit that point, I basically just talk to the fear. "Wow. I didn't realize Ahren is so afraid to ride in the car. I wonder what Ahren is afraid of?" Leave time to respond. If he doesn't, don't say anything for a few minutes. Most likely if you wait long enough, you'll get an answer.

But, if he doesn't after a couple of minutes (not seconds), then keep talking to the fear. "Sometimes it can be really scary to ride in the car because you're not sure where we're going and you're scared I will forget to bring you home. Or, you might be afraid we'll get in a crash and someone will die." Again, wait a few minutes and see if you get a response. Almost guaranteed that you will. "Yah, I'm afraid you will die." "Wow. That's got to be a really scary thing for you. What do you think happens when someone dies? What do you think will happen to you?" And then keep the conversation going until he expresses his real fears

Just a note, though - if just up and tell him that you won't die, he won't believe you. He's smart enough to know that everyone dies sometime and you can't predict whether or not this will be your time to go or not. But, if you address his fear of dying and then follow it up with something along the lines that you are doing what you can to be a safe driver, la la la, he'll start to settle down. Once he does settle down, it's also a good time to tell him that one of the things he can do to help Daddy be a good and safe driver is to sit quietly and not ask the same question over and over and over.

whtmtnmom said...

Ah, the nonsense questions and chatter. My oldest dd (home from China 5 years now) did this A TON at 3 & 4 and still does sometimes at almost 6. And the playing dumb thing that seems to go hand in hand w/ the nonsense chatter. Just last weekend, she was tired after a long day and stood in our mudroom, right in front of her cubby, and insisted that she had NO idea where to put her stuff that all belonged in her cubby.

I LOVE Christines recent ideas on welcometomybrain for both the nonsense chatter/questions and their playing dumb. I'll let you know how it goes for us as I try out her ideas.