Behavior Modification Saved My Life | Letters | Chicago Reader

Behavior Modification Saved My Life 

Sign up for our newsletters Subscribe

To the editors:

Six years ago, my normal, healthy, bright three-year-old son suddenly began experiencing uncontrolled epileptic seizures with no known cause. I was devastated and overcome with anxiety. One year later, my smiling, happy, even-tempered toddler had become a whining, irritable, demanding child who refused to do even the smallest task for himself. The seizures and futile medications to control them played a part, but so did I. In an effort to reduce all stress for my son (and hopefully stop the seizures), I stopped placing any limits or expectations on him. He was allowed to do whatever he wanted with no interference.

At this point, a psychologist at Children's Memorial Hospital directed us to Tuesday's Child (then called the Early Intervention Project). I followed her advice and wound up staying for four years, training other parents. This program saved our lives. Within a very short time all whining stopped. Eventually my son was dressing, toileting, and feeding himself again and had regained his happy disposition, in spite of the fact that he still had seizures and medications. My son was later diagnosed as having learning disabilities, and I realize that he needed (and continues to need) more structure, more concrete rules, and firmer controls than the average child. Only with structure can he function and learn. Tuesday's Child taught me how to provide this needed structure. I think that a child with learning or behavior problems (including unusually active behavior which is causing a problem at home) can benefit from Tuesday's Child's techniques.

With my other two children, who have no apparent physical or behavior problems, I think that exclusive use of behavior modification would be harmful. I use a Tuesday's Child technique occasionally, with good results, but mostly I parent by intuition and by responding to their clues. With my son, this less structured parenting had worked well before the seizures appeared but failed utterly afterwards.

There is another aspect of the program that was neglected in the article ["Tot Control," November 13]. The personality of Katherine Augustyn, program director of Tuesday's Child, has a great influence on the program and the way the techniques are presented. She is an extremely warm, loving, compassionate person, and the techniques are taught and tempered with this warmth and love, which takes them out of the realm of cold behavioral science.

Pamela Stewart

W. Morse

Comments

Showing 1-1 of 1

Add a comment

 
Subscribe to this thread:
Showing 1-1 of 1

Add a comment

More by Pamela Stewart

Tabbed Event Search

Popular Stories