Tag Archives: emotions

Regression

25 Jan

It’s not been a great January so far. The weather has meant two separate days when we’ve woken up to an announcement of no school, and that has played havoc with M’s routine. She has a new class teacher and a new head teacher, both of whom she seems to actively like, but the ripples from the pebbles that have been thrown in her emotional pond have been far-reaching.

The instances of shouting, screaming and hitting out have increased substantially – and bearing in mind December and the run-up to Christmas were no picnic – this is not insignificant. M has resorted to baby talk, increased use of her dummy (soother) when at home, as well as her cuddly toys and sensory items like her weighted blanket and her fleece blankets. She is always clingy to me but this has also increased, to the point I sometimes I feel I am in danger of suffocating under the weight of her need for me.

I guess I didn’t help matters by “abandoning” her for an overnight stay in Glasgow when I drove E back to university on the day of my birthday. I had a fantastic weekend, including a cinema trip and some shopping time, as well as the pleasure of one to one time with my eldest child. I have been paying for it with heartfelt comments and tears ever since.

M’s termly review meeting was last week and it was a good chance to let the staff know just how bad things had been at home. There is a new SfL (Support for Learning) teacher who comes in once a week and seems to know her stuff; she suggested several ways to try and improve things for M, all of which we will be putting into practice. One of them includes re-connecting with SaLT and making M a visual timetable for her entire week, in colour, that she can keep with her in an aid to lessen anxiety, along with a plan to sign the whole school. As language is the first thing to disappear when M is overwrought, the idea is to bring even a small measure of comfort by giving her the most access to converse as they can, and of course it means that there is more of a level playing field for any other children who may struggle, now or in the future.

As well as M, we discussed B, her brother, who is struggling himself. He can’t seem to let go of the fact that fate has given him a sibling with autism and he needs to make allowances. He is quite an angry wee man and there are more plans in place now to help him deal with his emotions around all this.

Coupled with R’s increasing anxiety about his forthcoming pre-lims and some very real concerns about his twin’s health (more of that another time) this isn’t a month I shall be sorry to see the back of.

Not everything is bad news; I am enjoying escaping to write some more of my book, and have also been happily connecting with more writers on twitter and other social media, finding out that the peculiarities I have thought personal to me are perhaps more of a widespread curse on writers in general and maybe I’m not actually going totally mad.

And the days are finally getting longer! It is such a relief to look out of the window at 4 pm and to still see the beach.

Here’s a little picture of M on Christmas Day.

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Not a Great Day

14 Oct

I don’t know what is going on in M’s head right now but she’s not in her happy place, that’s for sure.

The darker mornings are definitely helping her not to get out of bed so early, which is a real blessing in the half term. However, anything – and I mean anything – I try to get her to do, from eating to getting dressed, has been met with piercing screams. Sadly she has also been like to this to B, which isn’t great for either his sensitive ears or his nerves. I’ve been realising that he takes her sudden noisy mood changes to heart more than is healthy, BUT, and this is important, he still cannot resist winding her up. He really should know better by now.

Anyhow, I thought getting everyone around the table for a delicious brunch of eggy bread might settle her, and it did for about half an hour. The screaming began again over something that was so insignificant it can’t even be called anything, and I stepped in. M was sobbing, and no cuddle was enough to comfort her. I suggested she might try and draw what was the matter, as it as helped in the past. To be honest I wasn’t expecting her to agree as she has been spectacularly resistant to anything she perceives as a demand, but she headed for the kitchen to find pencil and paper. She drew this.

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It broke my heart to see she labelled herself as bad. I’m not daft enough to think that sad wouldn’t have been on her list, but it hurts when your child is so desperately unhappy.

Part of me is immensely proud that she was able to draw and write how she was feeling so accurately. There was no way I could get any more than a shrug from her in conversation so to be able to locate and then articulate her emotions on paper is a huge step. It also shows how visual she is, all that information was locked up in a child who couldn’t verbalise one word of it.

I reassured her that she is not bad, she might do “bad” things like throwing and hitting but that does not make her bad. I asked her if she wanted to draw things that would help her feel better, and she went off meekly to comply. Two “demands” in a row and she coped with them, a small breakthrough.

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This was her wish list. The top people are friends (not specified) and the bottom three are her siblings currently at home. On the right as you look at the picture is a TV and a sofa – her DVD viewing all sorted out.

She was able to explain that she thought her siblings didn’t love her, which they do, but they had all shut her out today (realistically because she was driving them nuts) so I went with her to ask for a hug from each of them. Then I reluctantly let her watch a DVD. I have been trying to wean her off too much screen time but faced with such an obvious plea I would have felt utterly heartless doing anything else.

The remainder of the day has been slightly easier. She got the play dough out after the DVD and was busy for ages making biscuits and cakes. I think the sensory feel of it is calming for her. Then we had a lovely Skype conversation with her big sister which left her laughing and happy. The visual side of Skype really engages her. She still hates the telephone.

I do wonder if she is struggling to process the change between school and holiday time. She was in a state for several weeks after the summer holiday, and now we have similar behaviour. She would choose in a heartbeat to be at home rather than at school but she is not good at the switch, and it seems to be getting harder rather than easier.

Right now she is asleep, and with any luck she will have a peaceful night. Tomorrow is another day. Clean slate time.

Not going Well

21 Jan

The tantrum train has been stopping at our house this week.

I know they are tantrums and not full-blown meltdowns, but it scarcely matters as M is unable to function properly either way.

Her sister has gone back to university, and with it has come the inability to accept the change in routine and to family life. It’s not even as if M spends hours with E when she is home, but the fact that is here makes it all right in M’s World. 

It was pretty awful back in September when E went away for the first time, but somehow I expected it to be easier this time. How wrong I was! M’s PSA*, the rather wonderful Mrs T, had a suggestion this afternoon that perhaps it’s worse precisely because M knows how she felt in September so the dread of the emotions plus the emotions themselves have tipped her over the edge. Either way, there is very little I can do for my wee girl except keep calm, keep the routine, and keep the reassurance that I am still here for her.

After Monday when M went to school half an hour late and in her pyjamas, and today when she was 15 minutes late and mercifully dressed, it would be nice to think that tomorrow we will achieve fully clothed and on time. But, if we don’t then we don’t – her autism is playing all the parts in the story of her life right now, and I have to accept that that role is bigger than everything else at the moment.

 

*Pupil Support Assistant

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Silent Sunday

25 Aug

Silent Sunday

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?

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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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