4b1782a2e66544ce50bd5063fd24be2aWe are having a SERIOUS problem with throwing. And by serious I mean dangerous and annoying and frustrating and exhausting. Cooper throws everything. Whether it be a toy, food, sand or rocks. I have determined that this is 100% a sensory thing. He likes the sounds these items make when they hit stuff. And usually the sounds evoke huge laughs from Cooper. He NEVER throws out of anger but he is strong so often other kids (Sawyer) get hurt.

We try to discipline this but honestly we would be saying no and doing ‘time outs’ the whole entire day. We can’t get through to him. And, another layer of oddness. We WANT Cooper to play and interact so when he throws the ball for our dogs we are ecstatic. He is engaging and enjoying himself. But, he can’t differentiate between throwing a ball for our dog and throwing a rock at a window. Go figure.  And lately he has been throwing A LOT of rocks at windows and vehicles. UGH. What next??? I am so worried he is going to get into real trouble at daycare with his throwing. Or hurt someone.

Case and Point:

Last Friday, I pulled into occupational therapy with a million things on my mind. (typical)  I unloaded Sawyer while on the phone (stupid) and had my hands full. A travel coffee mug in one hand (always), a giant purse and Sawyer in the other arm. I then opened the door for Cooper to climb out. As I finished up my conversation Cooper picked up a handful of rocks and threw them at my Yukon. And the kid has an arm on him. As they bounced off the windshield I hung up the phone and grabbed him by the arm. I stupidly assumed his hands were empty but apparently he has the capacity of a pocket gopher. He chucked another handful at the glass doors. It sounded like  a gunshot. And in true grand finale fashion, he got one more throw off at the front desk person. I shit you not a rock bounced off this person’s keyboard. I apologized over and over again. Luckily, this person is in their early 20’s and super laid back. Thank God.

The throwing has to stop. It is causing a huge problem at daycare. The hardest part about this is that Cooper doesn’t know how to play or interact with other kids. He gets excited and he throws. He thinks in his mind that he is playing.  Any advice out there????  Times out’s are not working.

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Kate Swenson

Kate Swenson lives in Minnesota with her husband Jamie, and four children, Cooper, Sawyer, Harbor and Wynnie. Kate launched Finding Cooper's Voice from her couch while her now 11-year-old son Cooper was being diagnosed with autism. Back then it was a place to write. Today it is a living, thriving community of people who want to not only advocate for autism, but also make the world a better place for individuals with disabilities and their families. Her first book, Forever Boy, will be released, April 5, 2022.

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  1. Cyn on May 22, 2014 at 5:10 am

    Wow! Off the top of my head he’s doing “cause and effect” play over and over again. Every little thing if you toss it…wow look what happens and isn’t that fun. Kinda like the baby who keeps dropping the silly cup on the floor while in the high chair. Look what happens someone picks it up:) Another problem that arises is our reaction as parents. If I do this….then this….look at what mommy does then. My son can be an attention seeker….just last Monday he started tossing things in the classroom. Why? He was working hard at school but his friend has been having a hard time and when he gets anxious he tosses stuff but the teachers then come running. My son thought….hey now that’s a fast way to get attention. When my son was 2 he liked tossing things a lot for sensory reasons….releases stress…plus the act of tossing was mastering a skill and he loves repetition. My advice is to continue to give him major happy party dance praise for tossing balls and say the words “throwing balls good.” When he tosses anything else….NO Eye contact at all..try to stay neutral, take the objects away, and say what you want him to do. “Balls are for throwing” and leave it at that. The hard part will be you will have to do this over and over until you think you are going crazy because behavior could be embedded now and takes longer to turn around then. To speed things up get your husband and day care staff etc to use the same script as you. This way when he tosses rocks he also hears the positive expectation. This is very important when dealing with autistic young children. Good luck:)

    • Avatar photo findingcoopersvoice on May 23, 2014 at 6:01 pm

      Great suggestions! Thanks lady!

  2. Meg C. DeBoe on May 22, 2014 at 11:32 am

    We had/have the same thing with our Cooper. We keep reinforcing that he can only throw balls and soft things. When he throws a hard thing we say “no! Only balls and soft things.” We take away the hard thing and replace it with a soft thing. He throws it, we cheer. He seems to be getting it.

    • Avatar photo findingcoopersvoice on May 23, 2014 at 6:00 pm

      I think our throwing is becoming too much of a habit. It’s out of control!!

  3. treemama on May 22, 2014 at 7:38 pm

    I would do exactly what Meg and Cyn have suggested – praise throwing soft things, and reinforce that balls are for throwing when he throws something unappropriate. Make sure you have plenty of soft balls or other soft toys around that are OK to throw, and try to replace the rocks with these when he has the throwing need. It will take a while for him to “get it” but eventually if you repeat it enough he should start to understand the rules (though of course there will be times when his impulses get the better of him even when he knows he shouldn’t throw things like rocks.)

    You could also set up planned throwing activities or a certain area of the house for throwing things, to try to channel all that throwing energy. Set up a couple of empty baskets and a pile of soft balls and let him go at it, or make a game taking turns throwing. Or make a bulls-eye on the floor with tape or outside with chalk. You could even do something like water balloons outside or wet sponges on a hot day to give him another sensory aspect!

    • Avatar photo findingcoopersvoice on May 23, 2014 at 6:00 pm

      This is great! Thanks lady!