It rained all night. Copiously. It has been raining on and off since this morning. Autumn is rolling in its colors, its weather, and its need for soup and blankets. Very soon J will be happy cuddling up to me on the couch while we watch movies… For now, he just wants to hang out in his TV room without our interference.
What was blatant SIB a few days ago has turned into more subtle stimming. The edge of anxiety that seemed to characterize these episodes has dulled; there is mild head shaking (Dada has witnessed it, too) and mild hitting, and the bandaids are still there and it makes him happy to see that we’re well-stocked in that department.
This morning he spent an hour putting together Green and Red envelopes, and this project filled him with purpose and happiness. The Green envelopes have a total of thirteen bandaids in them, and the Red have eleven. All in all, this morning J packed 218 bandaids. While I waited patiently for him to be done, he packed his envelopes with zen-like calm. He was soothed by the thought of soothing things being available to him…
The hand that was sans bandaids for hours on end up until recently now spends more time covered than not. Sometimes it even looks as if J is trying to communicate telepathically with the rogue hand that wants to hit him. He looks at it intently, and he holds it gingerly. I don’t think he is in pain, but I do think his hand “bothers” him. At first glance you’d think it’s physical pain because of the way he holds it (almost as if it will fall apart if he doesn’t carry it gingerly,) but then you realize that he is favoring that hand because of something else that we cannot understand. He is quite capable of opening and closing it; he uses it to hold things, to grab things, to carry things, to touch things…but he treats it with near-deference.
We continue to offer options for activities. We continue to try to engage him. We repeat how all sorts of feelings (even the “nasty ones” no one wants to admit they have) are acceptable and we’re here to help. He still says he’s HAPPY, and we hope that he will start realizing that we really do mean it when we say we love him and want to help. How convinced he is of this remains to be seen. If there’s one thing we’ve learned over time it’s that J’s mind is a lot more difficult to decipher than we ever imagined. We work on all these things, and we hope that we will be successful to one or another degree.
The progress we seem to have made is that the bandaids are brought to us with a peppy hop and a giggle. It’s more of a Broadway musical “I want these” than a Kylo Ren “I want these…and I hate that I want them and that you are the ones providing them.” The fact that the Kylo Ren quality of his requests for help has diminished greatly is of comfort to us.
We head into the weekend with DefCon boards on HAPPY. We are fully stocked with bandaids. We now know how to say FRUSTRATED, EXCITED and CONTENT in ASL. We are now more accepting of the deep breaths we are asked to take before we sally forth into whatever fray is developing. We put aside everything to focus on the moment itself… This is all becoming easier and easier to predict…we can feel the need to take a step back coming on, and we adjust before we engage.
J knows we’re trying. We can tell. We are sure. J is trying too, but perhaps is not as well-equipped as we are to succeed in the shorter term. Our goal is to improve his coping skills before the weather turns colder and starts interfering with our ability to leave the house on a regular basis. Boredom can cause so much anxiety for J, and cabin fever (that lovely sensation I hadn’t experienced except during hurricanes) is an enemy of our peace and balance. So we’re working on making sure that we add variety to the mix, that we let him set his pace, and that he knows whatever he is feeling is legitimate, and will be valued and addressed with respect.
And we have bandaids. Lots and lots of bandaids.