Day #51 – Goosfraba

Goosfraba may have originally been a word that the Inuit people used to calm their children, it became ‘immortalized’ when Jack Nicholson used it in Anger Management.  Today’s post?  It’s all about Goosfraba.

A piece of the vestibular system that causes us problems is that many children on the spectrum (including Tucker) face poor muscle  tone  and/or coordination.  I already commented on how we worked with a physical therapist to help him manage this difficulty (see Day #27 – The Balancing Act:  Celebrating Physical Therapists).  Still, the chaos that often ensues from the lack of coordination is frustrating – not only for him, but for me.

I am constantly reminding myself that if I am frustrated or having difficulty I must be extra patient.  If I am frustrated – imagine how he feels.  I have to put on an extra special calm face and use an extra special calm voice.

My mom raised me on the philosophy that if there was something in your house that you did not want to break…well, you should not have it in your home (if you had children).  Thank goodness she did.  Little did she know that her grandson would prove this theory – and not because he was ‘naughty,’ simply because he is Tucker.  Look at the list below.

  • Grasping items tightly
  • Bumps into things
  • Knocks Over Things
  • Is Clumsy

Between my own research and growing up the way I did I understood not to be angry when something would break.  I still don’t.  Why?  Because accidents happen.  On a chilly morning early last spring he came inside and was very upset.

“Mom, I broke the birdbath outside.”

“Okay, how did that happen?”

“Well, there was ice on the top, but the water was bubbly underneath and I wanted to see what would happen if I broke the ice.”

“Yes.  I can see how that would spark your imagination”

“It did – it just looked really cool.  So I picked up a rock.  I guess I threw it too hard into the water because when I did it just broke in half.”

“Bet you won’t do that again.”

“No way.  I’m sorry”

The tears began. Yes – that is truly how the conversation went.  When I went outside I realized he had used a big, big rock to break the ice.  He was 11 – he really should know better.


Deep breath – he can’t recognize the heaviness of an object.


Deep breath – he is unable to ‘think through’ the situation.


Deep breath – he can’t recognize how tightly he grasps and throws.


Deep breath – he is unsure of his movement.


Deep breath – I break stuff too, he didn’t do it on purpose.

“Tucker, did you pick up that rock and think ‘I am going to smash this birdbath to ruin mom’s day?’”

“Of course not.”

“Right.  You didn’t do it on purpose.  It’s called an accident.  The most important thing is that you told me that you made that mistake right away and that you won’t do that again.  Okay?”


End of conversation.  If I would have yelled, screamed, and /or berated him I would break him down.  I wouldn’t solve anything.  One of the things you learn very early on with a child on the spectrum is that sharp reactions will NEVER help.




So…be calm – and trust me, dealing with vestibular types of issues will test your patience.

Again and again and again.



Checklist (from

__ has a limp, “floppy” body

__ frequently slumps, lies down, and/or leans head on hand or arm while working at his/her desk

__ difficulty simultaneously lifting head, arms, and legs off the floor while lying on stomach (“superman” position)

__ often sits in a “W sit” position on the floor to stabilize body

__ fatigues easily!

_x_ compensates for “looseness” by grasping objects tightly

_x_ difficulty turning doorknobs, handles, opening and closing items

_x_ difficulty catching him/her self if falling

_x_ difficulty getting dressed and doing fasteners, zippers, and buttons

__ may have never crawled as a baby

_x_ has poor body awareness; bumps into things, knocks things over, trips, and/or appears clumsy

___ poor gross motor skills; jumping, catching a ball, jumping jacks, climbing a ladder etc.

_x_ poor fine motor skills; difficulty using “tools”, such as pencils, silverware, combs, scissors etc.

_x_ may appear ambidextrous, frequently switching hands for coloring, cutting, writing etc.; does not have an established hand preference/dominance by 4 or 5 years old

_x_ has difficulty licking an ice cream cone

_x_ seems to be unsure about how to move body during movement, for example, stepping over something

_x_ difficulty learning exercise or dance steps

18 thoughts on “Day #51 – Goosfraba

  1. Nikki, you continue to give me “aha’s” and insights every day! This post is how we (parents AND educators) should handle our conversations with ANY child who has accidentally (or through curiosity) done damage, caused breakage or spills, or for whatever reason we are feeling frustration with their behavior/actions. Kids on the spectrum, kids not on the spectrum – when you stop and look carefully – more similarities than differences. Thank you again for sharing!


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