Yesterday was an amazing day in so many ways. Bug had some serious meltdowns that made for some really hard moments for sure. The amazing thing was that, by the grace of God, I was able to recognize them for what they were and treat them appropriately. So often, sensory/adhd/asd issues are misunderstood as behavior problems…intentional behavior problems. So often, it appears as though our kids are making the CHOICE to misbehave, when really they aren’t making the choice at all, but rather their body has taken over their brain.
Let me describe some parts of our day.
8:30 AM - Time to get dressed. I needed to run a super quick errand, so I told Bug to get dressed. I didn’t care what she wore, we weren’t even getting out of the car….just needed clothes on. In hindsight, I should have just taken her in her jammies, but we had people coming over later and she needed clothes on at some point.
She put on a pair of panties that didn’t feel right. This resulted in her kicking, yelling, & hitting her legs, as she tried to get the offending panties off her body. Strangely enough, if she could think rationally and slow down, she could have gotten them off much faster. All the kicking & hitting just gets them all tangled up and makes them harder to get off.
8:45 A.M. – Finally found a pair of panties that felt good. This is why we have no less than 30 pair to choose from.
8:50 A.M. – Discovered that favorite shorts were wet in the washing machine, so they were not an option at the moment. Disappointment & frustration again. Attempted to put on another pair of shorts that were in the drawer, only to get them halfway up before deciding they were even more offensive than the panties. I watched as more kicking and yelling ensued, only this time it included her hitting herself in the face with both hands, as if she were trying to wake someone up out of a coma. Breaks my heart!
I helped her get the shorts off and just held her for a moment attempting to comfort her. I told her it made me so sad when she hurt herself and I didn’t know how to help. She told me “it doesn’t even hurt when I hit myself like that, but I just can’t stop, I can’t help it”. I don’t know how it doesn’t hurt, because I know it would have hurt ME if she slapped my face like that!
We ended up pulling a favorite skirt out of the laundry basket. Who cares if it’s a little dirty…..right now I just need comfortable! We skipped the shoes since we aren’t getting out of the car anyway.
9:15 A.M. – Finally dressed, and we head to Walgreens to pick up a prescription at the drive through.
9:40 A.M. – Back at home, and time for some outside time. Playing in the sandbox & with the water hose provide great entertainment as well as sensory input.
She had a great time for a while, had a snack & juice popsicle outside, and then……
10:30 A.M. - A couple minutes before it was time for her to come in, I had to reprimand her for breaking a family rule. I was calm and just explained to her again why that rule was so important, and that I needed her to obey it. No yelling, no punishment – just talking. Just the act of being corrected, no matter how minor, is enough to send my little perfectionist’s self esteem down a notch. Oh, finding the balance between building up her self esteem and disciplining appropriately. I can’t let her get away with anything and everything for the sake of her self esteem, but I also have to carefully pick my battles and my words.
Even though I didn’t see anything visible in her behavior, I knew that the “talking to” would be enough to make her extra sensitive for a while.
10:35 A.M. - Sure enough, as soon as she came inside, the meltdown started. She was soaking wet from playing in the water, and of course it was cold inside, but she was acting like I had thrown her in the snow naked. “I’m COOOOOOOLD!! I need to be DRY!!!” I told her to go in the bathroom and take off her wet clothes, and I would be right there to help her. When I got to the bathroom, she was just standing there, shivering, and saying “it’s freezing!” over and over and over. She couldn’t even focus enough to take off her clothes. Seriously. Her brain was frozen (and not from the cold). She had lost all ability to think rationally. Thank God, I recognized this for what it was and I helped her get her wet clothes off, and dry ones on quickly.
10:50 A.M. – She’s warm & dry, and seems to be calming down.
11:10 A.M. – She comments on the fact that some dirt is on the floor of her bathroom. I thank her for noticing, and ask her to go get her little broom & dustpan and clean it up. She normally LOVES to use her broom and dustpan any chance she can.
Not THIS time.
She just could not make it work. She was either brushing too hard, or not even aiming at the dustpan. She was getting beyond frustrated because the dirt would not go in the pan. I tried to help her with a few verbal directions (she’s a visual learner….when will I learn?), which only proved to confuse her even more. Again, all rational thinking seemed to be absent. I wish I could describe the scene better, but words escape me.
To the untrained eye, it looked like she was doing it wrong on purpose to avoid doing the work. If I didn’t know her better, that’s just what I would have thought. But I know she loves to sweep and help clean up. I also know she was tired, bothered by clothes, got in trouble, and had been cold. All of those little things really add up and end up overwhelming her body.
She even swept herself into a corner in the bathroom and then proceeded to yell at the door for hurting her as she shoved her body into it. She was yelling “Ow! Ow! Ow! Stop hurting me, door!”. She had no ability to even realize the door wasn’t alive. Seriously. She was yelling AT THE DOOR!
I finally just told her to go take a break, and I would clean it up. I said she could practice with the broom and dustpan another day. Sometimes, you just gotta take a break!
11:30 A.M. – Knock on the door. I had an appt, and was expecting 1 woman to come. I opened the door, and there were FOUR ladies standing there! Emily was a couple feet behind me, and as soon as she saw the ladies, she started backing up saying “Too many people! Too many people!”. I had prepared her for ONE, but not FOUR, and it took her by surprise. She doesn’t like surprises. She likes to prepare and plan for what’s coming. Poor thing, she was running on overload!
She had just had enough! Thankfully, I already had snacks and activities set up for her while I met with the ladies, so we managed to get through it.
But boy, she’d had a rough day!! And this….along with so many other days like it….are why we are taking the steps to move forward with a Gluten-Free/Casein-Free diet for Emily. Hubby and myself will be doing it along with her, because I’m not a short order cook, and I’d rather make us all the same meals and not worry about cross contamination. More on that subject in another post!