Are extreme tantrums throughout an entire day normal for a 2yr old who is blind?

I understand the concept of "terrible two's" but I feel like this is more than that. He has no interests in toys or moving around. He just wants to listen to his music all day for hours and throws a fit when there's a commercial (on Pandora) or if the music stops. Takes sometimes 10mins to calm him back down and he remains fussy for an hour after that. He's not talking or walking much (though he crawls well) and I know that can contribute to frustration in his wants and needs. Does anyone else with a vision impaired toddler have an "addiction-like" behavior towards music? Should I just let him sit and listen to his CD's all day? Any advice is appreciated, thank you!

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Posted by Hillary Kleck on Dec 11, 2016 - 5:55pm

My daughter was just as you describe except it would take much longer than 10 minutes to calm her down. She would cry uncontrollably if her CD or DVD would end or stop for any reason. I became attuned to listen for when it was getting close to the end and be there to start it over as quickly as possible. My daughter was about 3-4 years when we experienced this the most. She didn't talk much either and it was so hard to know what she understood and what she didn't. Her expressive language was not anywhere close to what we believe she did understand either.

I often allowed her to sit and listen for hours (which I'm not saying is right or wrong, or good or bad) when she wasn't needing to do therapy or other stuff. I struggled to get her to touch books or any toys that didn't make noise. Looking back, I think a lot of it was her need for control. She didn't control anything really in her life or any type of decisions including when/what she ate, etc. So in retrospect I believe her music (which is still her LOVE in life) and music shows was something she strongly wanted to control. Although kids need to eventually understand and deal with the fact that they can't control everything (like commercials, etc), I think for kids who are blind/VI, that giving them control of something... anything! is a good thing.

Here are a couple things you could consider trying:
Find a music player that he can control independently.

When you have the energy (I say this because this was the biggest thing for me lol), try setting up a specific time to work on communication with the music. Try making a game out of start/stop in other things like clapping, drumming, etc. then use those directions with the music player.

Try toys with push buttons that make music and sounds. This works on motor skills, gives your son control, and has music!

My biggest recommendation is MUSIC THERAPY!!! If you can find a music therapist in your area, DO IT! It has had the most profound impact on my daughter. It has taught her self control, communication, and so many other important skills. It's wonderful!! If you can't find one in your area, there are some music-based activities that you can do with your son, too!

My daughter is 11 now and things like transitions in her schedule or sudden/surprise changes in her regular routine are really hard for her. She has a specific plan at school for when there is a change of most any kind and with that, and a very supportive staff, she has progressed tremendously to dealing with changes. She still gets music therapy a couple times per week and is involved in the choir and piano lessons. If you want to email me or message me on FB, I'd be happy to talk to you about my experiences with my daughter.

(PS I know WonderBaby has some great articles on my suggestions above so I'll post the links next too!)

Posted by Hillary Kleck on Dec 11, 2016 - 6:21pm

Here are a few links:

I haven't used one, but I know a lot of parents of kids with visual impairments love the Sweetpea MP3 Player:

There are also a variety of apps for self-control, music, and communication if you have an iPad but they may be for kids that are a little older, too.

Sensory Integration was big for my daughter, too, in helping her with behavior and self-control.

Posted by Amber Bobnar on Dec 12, 2016 - 9:05am

I remember with Ivan he was ok if the music stopped but only if it stopped at the END of the song. So if we were driving listening to music and arrived at our destination, we couldn't turn off the car and get out until the song ended. That wasn't too big a deal until he started to recognize which songs followed which on the CDs we listened to most - then he'd cry when the next song he expected to hear didn't start! From then on I was sure to only play music on shuffle so he never got used to a pattern of one song following another.

I don't think becoming addicted to music is that unusual for blind toddlers and I totally agree with all of Hillary's suggestions!

Posted by Amber Bobnar on Dec 12, 2016 - 1:30pm

Here are some responses from our Facebook page too. Definitely looks like you're not alone!

Posted by Erin-and-Elijah on Dec 12, 2016 - 11:21pm

Thank you Hilary and Amber! Your responses were so helpful and more importantly made me feel more at ease! I'm just starting to put myself out there in the online community of those with kids who are VI. I often times feel quite lonely with some of the struggles my son and I deal with--always questioning if i'm doing the right thing. Thank you :)