All through the day, from the time Dada and TGG leave for work until they come home, J is happy and calm. After going to the gym, while having dinner, J is calm. And then, randomly and unexpectedly, we get “the meltdown.”
This doesn’t happen while he and I are alone. I can tell him NO, ask him to help me when he’s engaged in something else, take him out of his routine, and he’s fine. The only thing I’ve been able to pinpoint so far is that J has tantrums when Dada and/or TGG are home.
I know J loves Dada and TGG. I know he likes to have them around. I know he enjoys their company. I don’t know why he would get upset when they’re here. I’m trying to figure this out.
My guesses so far:
1) Dada and/or TGG take my attention away from J;
2) Dada and TGG don’t spend enough time with J;
3) Dada and TGG are more easily spooked by the tantrums than I am;
4) Dada and TGG pay more attention to J when he throws a tantrum;
5) I pay more attention to J when he throws a tantrum while Dada and TGG are home (because he doesn’t throw them when they are not.)
Last night the tantrum came between putting on one sock and putting on the other. J immediately went to SIB when he wanted his bandaids for his hand. No warning sound; no hesitation. SIB and that was that.
I made him go to the TV room, and he was going to hit himself again but I held his hand and jammed the iPad in front of him. “We don’t HIT. We SAY!”
The process is convoluted and frustrating because I’m trying to reason with a person who is just NOT into it… So part of the effort goes into “talking him down” long enough to get him to understand that we’re trying to understand why he’s upset. Anyone who has tried to “talk down” an individual in the Autism Spectrum knows this is often easier said than done.
Talk him down I did, but it wasn’t easy, and I had to make sure he understood that I was not happy about his behavior. Once he got what he wanted, J turned into Mr. Charm…and I was not buying it. I don’t buy Mr. Charm on a regular basis, and I flatly refuse to do it when it comes in the heels of being obstreperous. After his outburst, and once he had re-engaged with his bedtime routine, J started the I LOVE YOU on maximum speed. I sat down on his bed and explained that I love him, but that I was angry because he is skipping all the tools we give him for communicating and going straight to SIB. I also explained that if he keeps using PAIN in his HAND as an excuse for melting down, he’s going to the doctor for an X-ray. Even though J then backpedals on the melodrama over his hand, he IS going to the doctor. I am fairly sure that he IS hurt, and he needs something more than his go-to remedies of sixty bandaids and a piece cut off from a pair of tights worn as a sleeve over his hand. The medical implications of this situation do not escape me, and I don’t take them lightly.
While I figure that part out, however, I’ve been proactively pursuing ways to help J communicate when he feels “stuck.” This morning we sat down with the printer, the laminator, and our go-to ASL website (http://www.aslpro.com/cgi-bin/aslpro/aslpro.cgi) to figure out the signs that can help him tell us what he needs. I also printed four DON’T HIT signs to help him remember this particular point, and I printed a two-sided HELP! card with the word on one side and the signs on the other. A reminder to use his Proloquo2Go hangs prominently in his TV room.
Of course, the e-mail in which my husband asks the doctor to give us a little more feedback so we can make an informed decision on J’s med dosage has been sent. This e-mail is so beautifully composed, so eloquent and to-the-point that, when asked for my opinion on its contents, I replied to Dada that it makes me want to make long, sweet, slow love to him. “So it’s ok, then?” Yes, it was more than OK; it’s the e-mail that I can’t write right now because my mind is flooded with all the other things I need to address before I fully address this issue…
We’ll see how this goes. So far this morning I’ve done everything humanly possible with a printer, velcro, laminating sheets, and chutzpah. I’ve spoken to J; I’ve involved him in the process of making things clearer for him to make things clear for us… I’ve anticipated everything that my addled brain can possibly anticipate. I’ve agonized over having to give him more med, and I’ve researched as much as is available (and comprehensible to a non-scientist like me) on the internet. I’ve texted back and forth with J’s teacher, and I’ve asked for input from J, TGG, Dada, and the teacher.
For the time being, I’m tapped out. I will see what the rest of today brings, and I will try to address what TGG and Dada can do to approach the situation better when they are home. It’s all I have right now…
It’s time for chores (oh, so late in the morning that it’s almost afternoon,) and for engaging J in something that has nothing to (outwardly and obviously) do with behavior modification.
I’ll keep you posted. Suggestions are welcome.