Snow Day & Slow Day

Weeks have passed since my last post, so there’s plenty to write…

but Thursday night, when I sat down to share highlights of our recent trip to the desert, all I could think about was the fact that my son was absolutely FREAKING out.

He’s sick again.  Or maybe still.

He missed a few days of school earlier in the month and then we traveled and exhausted him.  And rejuvenated him.  And exhausted him.

He played in the snow at the top of the mountain.

He swam for hours in a pool heated to bathwater temperature.

He painted a car at the Children’s Discovery Museum.

He ate every snack he wanted.

He enjoyed the trip.

We all really enjoyed the trip.  Even without mascara, sunglasses or a hairbrush.

But Thursday, the boy walked in from school and started falling apart.  By 4 o’clock, he had screamed and thrown things.  It went down hill from there.

I really believe the time change has messed him up.  He’s panicky about finishing things now.  It’s dark an hour after he gets home and I think it makes him nervous about his routine.

Nothing I did on Thursday seemed to calm him down.  I tried sweet and I tried stern.  I fed him and I gave him something to drink.  I tried distraction and positive reinforcement of his few good behaviors.  But what he most wanted, I couldn’t give him.

He wanted me to stand behind him and hold onto him while he endlessly repeated a complicated series of obsessive compulsive hand gestures, chants, head ticks, etc.  I wouldn’t do it and it made him mad.

When he asks for a plain old regular hug, it melts my heart and I’m totally in, but I won’t become part of his compulsive routine.  He can depend on me for a lot, but not for that.

I know that if I give in, he will expect it of me and of whomever else is with him.  He won’t be able to function without a human tool to manipulate as he sees fit.  Not everyone will understand, and as he ages and gets taller and stronger, his tantrums about it will be harder to manage.  No, I can’t give in.

Around 4:30, we had an appraiser over to measure and take photos of the house.  We’re refinancing and it’s required by law.  Just one more total violation of privacy rights in the course of a day.  Grrrrrrr.  But that’s another post.

The entire time the appraiser was here, my son was screaming at the top of his lungs.  The appraiser was not someone I trusted, so I couldn’t leave him to wander upstairs alone.  My son didn’t like that I left the room.  Despite the fact that he could see me on the landing above, he was furious and raging.

The dining chair my son “sat” in has become a squeaking, rickety mess because of his consistently ruthless shaking, slamming, scooting, and jumping.  Poor chair.  It’s loud now.  I feel like it’s crying for help.

I know my son is.  The problem with his cries is that I don’t know how to answer them sometimes.  I don’t always know what will change the evening for us.  I was exhausted by his behavior and the irritating sound of the chair’s complaints.  The two were deafening together.

I’m sure the appraiser thought we were both nuts.  I can hardly wait to see if the chaos of our home detracted from the value of our house.

Yesterday, I kept my son home from school.  It helped.  His obsessive compulsive episodes were frequent, but less intense than the day before.

We spent a lot of time at the table – cutting, pasting, taping, stapling.

I cut out pictures from ZooNews magazines and pasted them onto card stock.  This has become my favorite kind of Christmas ornament.

Here is my favorite from last year:

The boy made a turkey.

He wins.

I ♥ this turkey.

Happy Saturday!

P.S.  One of my favorite things about the desert?   Brandini Toffee.  Oh my oh my oh my.

P.P.S.  Nothing Bundt Cakes finally opened in Mission Valley.  The pumpkin cake sample sent me straight over the moon.  Must.  Have.  More.

♥♥

Welcome To The Weekend

What am I going to do if my son is still having tantrums when he’s full grown?

Today he threw a suitcase into the air, hit himself repeatedly, screamed, whined, shook, knocked over chairs and basically destroyed our front room.

I screamed at the top of my lungs too and now my throat hurts.  And of course, I feel like a failure as a mother because I lost my cool and couldn’t stop his behavior.

He made a weekend schedule yesterday.  This morning, he couldn’t find it.  That was the cause of the tantrum.

He doesn’t care about the ease of scribbling out a new schedule.  He doesn’t care that he is able to tell you everything that he wants to do today.  He wants the paper he made.  He is devastated that it’s gone.

Devastated, yes.

The aggravation for me is that he won’t look for it.  He reduces to tears, then escalates to rage, be cause I can’t find it.

It makes absolutely no difference to him that I have never seen it.  I don’t know what color it is or how big it is, and I certainly have no idea where he last put it.  He is just beside himself with anger and grief because I can’t produce it the moment he asks.

I turned his room upside down, looked in the bathroom and sifted through the piles and piles of his papers downstairs.  All of that and nothing.  No schedule.  No end to his meltdown.

It’s only 7:20 a.m. and I am already exhausted.

How is your week going?

P.S.  This was our Tuesday:

♣♣

Autism Regression

The little boy is playing happily on the computer next to me.  Things are calm now.

Two hours ago, we were screaming at each other.  At the top of our lungs.  Really screaming.  Not just yelling.

I don’t feel like a good mom today.  And lately, my son has been an extra challenging child.

His math and reading skills have improved significantly.  He enjoys homework.  He is talking more, making better eye contact, and cooperating with rigid routines.

Even socially, we have seen major development from him.  He craves interaction and camaraderie from his peers.  He knows their names and he spontaneously greets them every morning when they arrive at school.

Progress.

But, behaviorally, things kind of suck right now.

The boy has become obsessive compulsive in ways we never knew possible.  And he wants us to do everything for him.  He demands that we do everything for him.

Our refusals, whether sugary sweet and thoroughly pleasant or a little snippier from exasperation and fatigue, they all land on him the same way.  He loses his mind.  He starts yelling.  His most frequently uttered sentence (and by uttered, I mean yelled) is “No saying no!!”  He shakes back and forth and he screws up his face in frustration and anger.

He’s also slapping and pushing and pulling and hitting again.  And today he grabbed my wrist, twisted my skin and drew blood with his sharp little fingernails.  That’s when I screamed too – first in pain and surprise and then again in anger.  And, I admit, twice more, just to get it out of me.  This has been a very stressful month.

Last night I went to my mom’s for a family dinner.  My older brother turns 51 this month, so mom made food and we all gathered to sing and eat cake.  I love my brother, but I probably shouldn’t have gone.  I was at the end of my emotional rope yesterday and it was a long drive, a big dinner, a frustrating conversation about a treadmill (don’t ask), and then a long drive home.

After exiting the freeway, I was so keyed up from the weekend and that final drive, that I had to stop at the local Trader Joe’s and walk two speedy laps around the parking lot to blow off steam before I went home.  I knew I couldn’t deal with my child without exercising first.  The troops selling Girl Scout Cookies in front of Henry’s Market looked at me with suspicious eyes when I whipped past them the second time.  Oh well.  Had to do it.

And then today.  I was okay today until I brought the boy home.  And then the screaming.  My throat hurts from my part.  I imagine his throat hurts too.  He was LOUD.

What kills me about this afternoon is the amazing good mood he was in when I picked him up from school.  He was laughing and skipping and so excited about everything he saw.  I should have known it would spiral out of control the minute we walked into the house.

But really, how AM I to know that?  I know my son so well and I still don’t know that.  I don’t know what will set him off.  Certainly, I have a long list of potentials in my head, things I avoid when possible, but I can’t predict it all and I grow weary trying to anticipate it.

This month, for example, after he uses the toilet, he wants one of us to take the lid and seat from his hand and lower it for him.  Even if he is upstairs and we are downstairs, he will scream at us to do this.  We don’t, but it makes him crazy.

And he wants us to carry him from the couch to the kitchen or from the kitchen to the stairs or the couch to the toilet or the toilet to the chair.  We say “no” and employ one of a dozen psychological tactics to get him to accept our answer, but he just gets madder.

He has to walk back and forth three or more times in the same spot before he can go forward and do something.  Today, he wanted a cup.  The cup was right in front of him in the pantry, two feet away, but he wanted me to get it.  I was across the room and I told him “no.”  Then I stood and watched in sadness and some disbelief as he tried to go forward to get it himself, but instead went in every direction but toward it.  He went sideways and backwards and he spun in circles, but he couldn’t get that cup.  It made us both crazy.  Yesterday he chose a cup from the same location with no problem at all.  I don’t know what was different about today.

And the snack in his hand? Pocky.  He couldn’t eat it anymore.  Once he came to the understanding that he couldn’t get the cup, he was no longer capable of holding the snack.  He crushed it, almost involuntarily, and he seemed miserably sad about it.  I told him to throw it away.  He did, but it was physically challenging for him.  And then, of course, he wanted me to take the trash can lid from his hand and lower it.  I didn’t.  More upset.

I am fatigued by writing about this.

I have to wrap this up.

If you made it this far, you are a good friend.

Maybe you could babysit for us some time.

Happy Monday.

♥♥