Tangled Autism Hair

A few weeks ago, I posted a note on Facebook about my son’s love for the movie “Tangled” and how he had fashioned himself some long Rapunzel hair using a few lengths of orange Hot Wheels car track.

Not long after my post, I bought the boy a long blonde wig. He tried it once and abandoned it in favor of the car track again.

Now, when he arrives home from school each day, he goes immediately to his room to get the car track.  He puts it in his hair and wears it until he needs to dress or shower the next morning for school.  Yes, he even sleeps with plastic car track stuck in his hair.  And usually he attaches three or four pieces – about eight feet of track – so it drags on the ground when he walks around the house.

I don’t know why I’m telling you all this, except maybe to give you a glimpse into life with an autistic child whose sensory issues, OCD, and creativity frequently collide.

We can usually anticipate that he will react strongly to things, but we are powerless to accurately predict for you exactly how, or for what duration, that reaction will grip his body and our house.

We have simply learned to slip our arms under the track when we hug him and to call him Rapunzel, as if he were the most gifted princess in the land.

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DSC00461Happy Thursday!

P.S.  What’s happening at your house this week?

♥♥

Jonesin’ for the Jig

The little boy is enamored of arms.  For months now, he has been fascinated with freckles and veins and moles and anything that sets an arm apart from the one next to it.  He likes to study these things.

Mostly, it’s kind of charming.  He is gentle and sweet and genuinely interested in the differences between us and himself.

Sometimes though, it’s sort of annoying.  My arms are not my best feature, you know?  I don’t really want him to point them out in public, much less unexpectedly reach his hand up my sleeve and shake them.  😐

To combat this unwanted activity, I started pulling him close and threatening “if you jiggle me, then I tickle you!”  It stopped him about three times. 

Now he has, in fact, used the word “jiggle” to nickname my arm.  And his dad’s arm too. (Though dad’s doesn’t actually jiggle.)

Funny, right?

Um…well…no.  No.

Okay, it’s a little funny.

A few weeks ago he came up to me, his eyes full of love for my fleshy underarm, and he said “Thomas hug the jig?”

Seriously?  I don’t even get the rest of the word, now?

My husband and I both laughed, but I don’t know.  It just sounds wrong or something, doesn’t it?

Well, whatever, that’s what he says now.  My arm is “the jig.”  More specifically, the squishy, unfit, underside of my upper arm is called “the jig.”

Oh, and “tickle puff.”  Sometimes he just calls it “tickle puff.”

The thing is…

the boy has eyes for other arms too.

He just likes to hug people, you know?  He sees their bare skin and he smiles.  He is fascinated and wants to wrap himself around them and just hug.

Most of the teachers and aides who know him at school are fine with his latest obsession.  None of them seem to mind this extra attention from my smiling boy.

The other parents?  Well, I’m not so sure about them.  I don’t think any of them would be troubled by an accidental nudge from a stray kid, but fawning adoration of a specific body part?  I don’t think they would be too welcoming of that.  They don’t know him.  They don’t know that he’s harmless and sweet.

Every morning as we stand in the line for his classroom, my son eyeballs the arriving parents.

It’s hot in August and all those mamas have on tank tops and spaghetti straps and short sleeves.

My son is fascinated.  He smiles, he laughs, he looks, he really wants to hug.

Today, one of the moms I’ve never met (and whom I’m a little put off by, actually 😐 ) showed up in a strapless sundress.  Oy.  She sat at the picnic tables with the kids who were eating breakfast.

Nothing happened, but only because I never took my eyes off of my son.

He skipped up to the tables, deftly weaved between the other kids and was standing next to strapless mama in about two seconds flat.

Her back was to him, so she never knew that she almost got an arm squeeze.

I called him back before he did it and tried to explain that he couldn’t hug just any jiggling arm.

I don’t know if my words made sense to him or not.  I’m guessing not, since I’ve told him this same information every day for several weeks and nothing has changed.

We get to school, we stand in line, and the boy starts jonesin’ for some jig.

Watch this space…

Next month, he’ll have a new obsession.

Sweet potato.  🙂

As I typed this, he wouldn’t leave my arm alone.  Just now he asked me “Thomas hug the jiggy?”

Thank goodness!

I got some letters back.  😀

P.S.  Those pix above are from our weekly IHOP visit.

P. P.S. Husband is making little changes in the yard this week.  I’ll post a few pix in the next day or two.  For now, look what I brought in to put on the counter.  I love, love, love the bright orange.

Happy Tuesday!

♥♥

Tiramisu, OCD, Pennies & Pasadena

Sweets for me and my sweets

There’s tiramisu in the fridge again.  (Insert contented happy dance here.)

It’s such a mess to make, but so worth the effort and the cocoa dusted counter tops.

Have I mentioned lately how much I hate grout?

It’s everywhere in my home and nowhere in my dreams.

And this evening, my grout is cocoa powder brown.  😐

But like I said, there’s tiramisu in the fridge again.

And it’s the good kind.

The almond kind.  

It’s not the rum kind.

It’s this kind.  🙂

OCD and then some

The little boy is going through an increased phase of obsessive compulsive behaviors again.

He has some of these behaviors all the time, but every month or so they intensify for a while.

It makes us tired.  And frustrated.  And teary.  And sometimes really, really mad.

He will insist we do things for him that we haven’t done since he was a baby, or ever.

Tonight, for instance, he called me to come into the bathroom as he was finishing his shower.

“Mama, pull the plug?”

I’ve really never pulled the plug for him after his bath time, but suddenly, he is desperate for me to do it.

When I refuse and explain that it’s his responsibility to pull the plug, he starts a tantrum.

I leave the room.  😐

He has also started asking us to push him or carry him everywhere again.

THAT makes me lose my mind.

I sit at the dining table with my cereal and he wants me up so that I can carry him three feet, from the kitchen to the couch.

I ask if his legs are broken.

Sometimes, he gets the point.

Sometimes, not so much.

And just now, he was standing in the kitchen with me.

He was waving a cloth napkin in his hand.

“Mama put the napkin down?”

He wanted me to take it from him so that I could put it on the counter.

Um…

no.

You get the picture.

Exhausting.  Exhausted.

Penny for your thoughts.  And your patience, please.

Before we weened ourselves away from the little boy’s private psychologist, we got one last piece of great advice.

She suggested we offer him a penny every time he waits patiently at a red light.

Until we started doing that, he would absolutely freak out in the car.

He doesn’t like to wait.

He doesn’t like things he can’t control.

Traffic + his being in the backseat with a limited view = intersection of all anxiety, mine and his.

I’ve written before about being pelted in the head with McDonald’s toys, having my seat kicked, having my ear drums pained by sudden blood-curdling screams, and having papers and magazines torn to pieces.

All because of red lights.  Or pedestrians.  Or bicycles.  Or buses.

Being in the car pretty much sends my kid into the deepest recesses of his autism.

Or at least it did, until we started the pennies.

Now, things are usually okay.

And this week we took the pennies to Vons and threw them into a CoinMaster machine.

$16.00.

Unreal.

He bought another nightlight.  😀

Pasadena Partners

In the wake of some marital strife – no, you don’t get details – I have concluded that the husband needs a fabulous weekend like I had in Pasadena.

I suggested it today and though we do have a lot on the calendar in the next several weeks, I think it will work with some creative planning.

So, husband, start thinking about all the guy stuff you wanna do.

I will help with reservations.  🙂

And that’s all she wrote.

Happy Thursday.

♥♥

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.

♥♥