Wednesday, July 24, 2013

The Bad, The Good, and The Ugly.

And yes, I realize that the title is in the wrong order. It's intentional--in this case, the bad has to come before the good. I think I prefer it that way all the time, honestly. Wouldn't we all rather have the good follow the bad?

We have a good, bad, and ugly situation going on in the Jones house. And I want to share it with you.

The Bad:

Whether it's autism-related or being-four-years-old-related, or a combination of both, I don't know--but Anderson has had some temper issues in the past few weeks. I know...all kids of the preschool age have anger issues. However, the way in which Anderson handles it is most definitely related to ASD. When he's mad about something, he reverts to using echolalia. He often screams his own name in a teacher-voice, indicative of a time when he has been in trouble at school (not that I think his teachers yell--I know they don't. He exaggerates...). Lately, he's even been hitting a little bit. He's "spanked" Amelia (his words), which is funny because our kids very, very rarely get "spanked". He's hit me twice in the last week. It ain't pretty, people. Last night, he ran from Marty outside--it was time to come in and he wasn't interested. The meltdown following was pretty...rough. His screams are shrill and loud--think of someone who is terrified. That kind of blood-curdling scream. He does it over and over, to the point that he loses his voice.  Reasoning with him in the way that you'd reason with a typical child doesn't work, either, no matter how many times we try or how much we wish it would.  Communication with him while he's upset is pretty much impossible. Today I discovered that, for me, the best course of action is simply to completely ignore him. Let him get the screaming out (I wouldn't allow aggression, but he wasn't trying to hit during this incident). Show him that I am not interested in hearing him until he is calm. I went about my business, brushed Amelia's teeth before her nap, got her to bed. He followed me around and went from shrill screaming, to yelling, to quiet when he realized I wasn't paying any attention to him. When he was quiet, I called him over and we were able to logically talk about what happened. Of course, that absolutely doesn't mean that he's not going to melt down the next time the same situation arises, but it had to be better than trying to talk to him while he's a total wreck, or yelling back at him, or anything like that. Nevertheless, it's very stressful. Sad. Anxiety-inducing. Bad.

The Good:

Parents of "typical" kids who have ASD or other special-needs kids always talk about the guilt. The guilt of not being able to spend as much time with the typical child(ren) as the special-needs child. Guilt that special needs often trumps typical needs, out of necessity. But parents of typical children with special-needs siblings also talk about how compassionate their typicals are, how tolerant and understanding and kind. I witnessed that first-hand in my house this week, with my own daughter.  Throughout this little attitude-shift of Anderson's, she's been inquisitive, not quite understanding what is going on (but none of us do). She's a little nervous around him sometimes, especially if he seems agitated. She looks to me for reassurance, safety. This week, Amelia and I put together a puzzle. We left it sitting on their little table, while I went to get them a drink. Apparently, as soon as I left the room, Anderson grabbed the puzzle, broke it, and ran off with some of the pieces. Amelia wailed and then came and let me know exactly what happened. I found the culprit in his room, trying to hide puzzle pieces in a blanket. I told him that what he'd done wasn't nice, and that we were taking the puzzle pieces back. I rejoined Amelia at the table and we began putting the puzzle back together when Anderson came in, started echoing his classroom-trouble-situations, and then took a swing at Amelia. I caught his arm, told him that we absolutely do not hit. He was very upset. Tears, hiding his eyes. Amelia looked at me and I told her that Anderson was upset that he got into trouble, but that it was all okay.  Then, the magic. Oh, the magic that is my sweet, smart girl with a kind, good heart. She looked at Anderson, and I kid you not, this is what she said: "Anderson, I know you're mad right now, but it's not nice to tear up our puzzle. We will put it back together. Want to help?"  A social worker couldn't have done it better. She did everything right--acknowledged his feelings, told him what he did wrong, tried to redirect him. In a dream-world, he would've said yes and we'd have put the puzzle back together, lived happily ever after. It didn't go down that way; instead, it took awhile for him to get calmed down. But a few minutes and a glass of milk later, we were all good. She gets it, you all. She's learning her brother, learning how to navigate his funky show of emotions. And I can tell that she loves him. So good.

The Ugly:

I don't really have one specific thing that is the ugly. Instead, many smaller things. The fact that my waist-line hasn't decreased one single bit despite all the exercise this summer. The fact that this week has been busy and my house literally looks like a tornado hit it.  The fact that I go back to work starting next week, and our hectic school-year routine starts again. The fact that Marty's one year anniversary of acquiring ARDS is rapidly approaching (he's been calling it his "ARDS-iversary"; I don't find it funny in the least) and I'm kind of overwhelmed, reliving the whole experience. Lots of little things going on that twist and twirl and meld together to create an ugly atmosphere around here this week. I gotta check my attitude, try to enjoy my last few days here with the kids. I need an attitude adjustment. Maybe a Frappuccino would help. Or a Diet Cherry Limeade from Sonic. Yeah. I think that's what I want.

Signing off...I hear my little temper-tantrum-tornado screaming "NOO!" at the top of his lungs out in the front yard.  Good times, I tell ya. Good times.


  1. three things:

    1. Oh I feel you on the temper tantrums. Silas has ALWAYS had a dramatic, over the top tantrums. I consider myself lucky if we go one evening without a full out, complete melt down.

    2. Good for Amelia. She seems like such a sweetie.

    3. You and Gallutia talking about cherry limeades makes me jealous.

    4. (i know i said three, but whatever. don't judge me) i'm getting excited about the finley 5k. (completely off topic there. again, don't judge!)

    1. I wish I could say I was EXCITED...I haven't been feeling the most confident in my running. Still have plenty of time, though! I'll get there! :-)

  2. Oh man. It constantly amazes me how different each of my kids are. My two year old has a set of lungs on her and can hit notes that cause my ears to feel like they're bleeding. And she doesn't get tired, so she can scream like that for what feels like for-ev-er. We do the same and ignore her. Or turn up the music in the car. LOL My other two aren't screamers at all. The four year old is a whiner though and MAJOR drama queen. MAJOR. Her world can fall apart at the drop of a hat and then BAM she swings back to happy. Her emotional roller coaster exhausts me. And Tommallama is still too young, but he's so so mellow.