The Light At the End of the Tunnel?

seagull-768785_1920My daughter and I had a peaceful spring break. I did what I could to keep her on schedule, to not let her spend much of the day in her pajamas, lounging with the iPad. Caroline and I were both afraid of starting over if I allowed Katie to have a truly relaxing break without much structure. So Monday through Friday, I spent an hour forcing Katie to read, write, and do math. It sucked, and I got some behavior, but the alternative was even worse.

Now we are back in “school” and after several rough days, Katie seems to have at last grudgingly accepted that Caroline isn’t going anywhere. She sits at the kitchen table without anyone asking and does most of her work with a brooding compliance. Given where we left off before break, this is huge progress.

The day before spring break started, on my birthday no less, Katie had a sensory meltdown of epic proportions. She totally lost it while playing Connect 4, and scratched me, refused to take turns, and then threw the game across the room. By the end of the incident, she had practically torn my shirt off. In the struggle, she managed to break her sound-blocking headphones. She sat crying in her “chill out zone,” fingers jammed in her ears. Caroline left for the day, and I sat at the kitchen table, crying along with Katie. So much for a happy birthday.

Fortunately for me, Katie’s behavioral outbursts end the moment Caroline leaves, so once she was calm, I had her count the checkers, search for the missing pieces, and then put everything away, which she did without incident. I salvaged the headphones with ductape, but we were both wiped out. I was getting over a cold, and Katie was coming down with one. We took a nap and then headed to Nate’s place for microwaved lasagna and birthday cake. We were both asleep by 9 p.m.

Swinging_Away_the_SummerThe next day, I laid down the law. Katie glared at me, but didn’t argue. I then spent the following week letting her swing, and swing, and swing. It took several days, but finally she lost the “twitches.”

Now that we are back in school, I’m determined to keep it that way. The problem is, I don’t know how. I know that unmet sensory needs result in behavior. I also know the week before break Katie was extremely twitchy. I need to keep the twitches at bay or we will once again have boatloads of behavior. If I can solve this problem, Katie will finally be free to use that bright, creative mind of hers to learn.

Remember that ill-fated game of Connect 4? We were playing it once again because as I’ve recently begun to suspect, Katie was using strategy to block my moves. Before her meltdown, she was kicking my butt. I have a law degree and my disabled twelve-year-old was beating me at a game, hands down.

Somehow, some way, I need to set that brain free.

I’m not going to rest until I do.

Until next time,

About Cynthia J. Patton

Writer, Editor, Advocate, Speaker, Special Needs Attorney, and Autism Mom. Also the Founder and Chairperson of Autism A to Z, a nonprofit providing resources and solutions for life on the spectrum.
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2 Responses to The Light At the End of the Tunnel?

  1. Pingback: A Question of Power, Part 2 | CYNTHIA J. PATTON

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