Tag Archives: echolalia

Echolalia and The Medicine Show

1 Aug

I do love my music. With the exception of death metal and some of the more heavy rap, I pretty much enjoy everything depending on my mood. But like most people I have my go-to favourites, and none more than when I’m driving.

I switch from pounding hi-energy disco circa 1984 or equally ear-splitting rock (when I’m lucky enough to be alone) to being the queen of easy listening if I’ve got the little ones in the car. I discovered years ago that anything with a very fast or heavy beat tends to amplify their worst behaviours, so I’ve gone all grandma on them ever since. My tunes of choice right now tend to be one of these two:

CDs

I often just have M in the car, as she’s heading off to yet another appointment, and it’s frankly adorable to hear her singing along to David Cassidy or the Bay City Rollers as we eat up the miles into town. She’s extremely fond of Dr Hook too (not quite as much as me but I think I have obsessional issues with Dennis Locorriere’s voice – that’s another story altogether) and she’s word perfect on songs like Sylvia’s Mother and Years From Now. All very innocent. Until…………..

CD 2 was requested yesterday on the way to Camhs. M had decided she wanted the “funny” songs, not the slushy ones, so I slid the CD in and off we went. Hubby’s new car is a bit weird, the CD player is in the glove compartment so it’s not advisable to change CDs while you’re driving.

The second track came on and I was singing along under my breath as I do because M has a problem with me singing over songs – she can, but I’m not allowed to. And then I realised what the words were. Dilemma. Do I quickly skip the track and face a meltdown or do I let the song play out and hope she’s not actually listening? The second option is what I choose as I know that she will get very upset if I skip before the end, but I’m cringing inside as I just know that she will be absorbing every single word. That’s when echolalia is a curse.

I have no idea when the lyrics might pop up again, and where. M’s echolalia comes to the fore mostly when she is stressed, and it can take any form from counting to 100 over and over again, to reciting huge tracts of a film script, or song words. I used to get a bit annoyed when all I could hear were Christmas songs in the middle of July but right now, if she gets stressed, I’d be delighted to hear Jingle Bells instead of this option.

http://www.azlyrics.com/lyrics/drhook/freakersball.html

Just praying she doesn’t recall all the words in the middle of a particularly trying school assembly!!

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Spoke Too Soon

7 Apr

M had her first full on meltdown for ages today.

I took four of the kids over to visit an osteopath today. We’ve all been before, M more than the others as I was never able to leave her when I’ve been in the past. The house is familiar and welcoming, and Tracey (the osteopath) is one of my favourite people ever. M settled happily with snacks and a DVD on her sister’s laptop. 

When we had been put back into good shape we popped into the town for some lunch. The younger two had eaten a packed lunch as I knew we would be late eating, but I got them both an extra wee something. 

I knew that after over an hour in the car each way plus all the waiting around that a good run about in the fresh air was essential so we headed to the park where enormous fun was derived from a zip wire that has been installed since our last visit. M was fearless on this, and then got a great workout on almost everything else before we got back into the car. 

Part way home I remembered we would be passing a particular shop and I decided to run in and pick something up rather than have to make a special trip out of my way at another time. I was literally a few moments but M didn’t want me to go without her. She started to cry. And then to shout loudly.

Maybe I should have taken her with me, maybe not. I wasn’t up against any deadline. But once she started demanding I thought she was having a tantrum so I left her with the others. Turned out to be a mistake. I returned to find three of them desperately trying to hold onto a distraught girl who was screaming fit to burst and smashing her head repeatedly on the car. I finally got her calm and we set off again.

The journey home was punctuated with a lot of echolalia, a sure sign of M setting her world to rights, but luckily her meltdown was forgotten by her at least. Sometimes she seems totally oblivious to the mayhem; at others she can be exhausted and withdrawn for hours.

So, what was the trigger? Stopping for the shop? I don’t think so. I hadn’t specified we would head straight for home and it’s not unusual for me to kill two birds with one stone this way. Being cooped up for too long? Again I don’t think so. And she had a huge sensory workout which usually makes her feel calm. Maybe she had a panic attack about me going out of her sight. I will probably never know. 

I’ll tell you this much – all her siblings now want a pair of ear defenders!

Back to School Anxiety

19 Aug

Sorry I’ve not been on much recently, the summer holidays have got in the way.

My brother is staying for about 3 weeks – he is a builder and is doing a mammoth list of jobs in the house including installing a new bathroom! And last week we had two dear friends stay in our back garden in their caravan, so we were all very busy keeping out of bro’s way and entertaining our friends.

Anyhow, seven weeks has whipped by in the blink of an eye, and tomorrow is The Big Day. Yes, back to school. And M is not happy about it, oh no. Her ability to cope with even the smallest changes has suddenly gone right out of the window, and her temper is something to behold. I hate to say it but her brother has taken rather more punches than any wee boy should be the recipient of, but sadly he appears to like winding her up. Of course, he’s the first to come crying to me when he’s spent ages pushing her buttons and she suddenly snaps, but what two siblings don’t fight at that age? I try to keep them apart when I can but they seem magnetically drawn to the other.

I have tried to keep things fairly quiet since the visitors left, and as M finds comfort in familiarity I have been letting her watch more dvds than I would normally.  Left to choose by herself she would plump for the same film over and over until it became almost part of her life, but as I try to run a democracy there have been days when her choice wasn’t picked. 

I have noticed a big upturn in echolalia too this last week. Most notably the other day when she was quoting huge chunks of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory on what seemed a never-ending loop. But she has also started what I think of as “immediate echoing” i.e. when someone says something and she almost instantly copies them, often under her breath for 15 or 20 minutes. I think she does this as a way of keeping track of what is/should be happening at any one time, as a self-reassurance, but when she repeats big parts of film scripts I am not entirely sure why. I suppose she is gaining some comfort from the memories of the pictures that go with the script and that way is maybe even retreating into a place she feels she knows.  I hope one day she is able to tell me about this process as I find it fascinating that her memory is apparently faultless. She even gets the accents spot on.

In a bid to keep the anxiety at a manageable level I had arranged to take her into school this morning, just for a wander about to check on what, if anything, had changed over the holidays. She was reluctant to go, but once we were in the door she was happy to skip about checking out the layout of the classrooms, and the noticeable lack of artwork on the walls. She had a double check of her separate desk in the library area, and a thorough look in her “den” which is her bolt-hole for down time if it all gets too much. I enjoyed looking at her puppets which I’d not seen before although I knew they existed. There are five of them, all with different facial expressions, and the idea is for M to use them if she is having trouble expressing her emotions. She likes the happy one best – good! Aren’t they a great idea?

Image

 

She seemed much happier after our short visit.  However, my plan to take them out for “a surprise” was met with tears and complaints of a tummy ache, sure signs of anxiety, so I had to tell them we were off to the cinema. We saw Despicable Me 2 and it was excellent. I had booked seats on the back row and this turned out to be a stroke of lucky genius – with no-one sitting behind us I didn’t mind at all when M sat on the arm of her seat, on the upturned folded seat, took off her shoes and socks, and then stood on her chair. She was hurting no-one and obviously needed the sensory input of moving around a lot. Even her weighted lap pad hadn’t kept her still this time but it didn’t matter. Another autism lesson learned today.

This evening was tough. M didn’t want to be strapped in a seat belt on the long journey home, she could barely manage to sit through dinner and although she kept saying she wanted cuddles she couldn’t sit still for one. Thank goodness for the miracle worker that is melatonin. She wasn’t as early to bed as I’d have liked but as she lay down without protesting too much I’m going to take it as a win.

Bring on tomorrow! By 2.30 the worst will be over and the first day back done.

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