Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Well, Duh!

P1070450First day of Summer vacation: summer camps can’t start soon enough!  G has really been affected by our end-of-school change of routine.  Actually, no routine.  I’m trying to keep some routine and need to develop one quickly because he has regressed terribly.  He’s grunting, pointing, screaming and screeching, similar to when he lost hiP1070455s language for awhile at 3.  He’s had potty accidents, been OCD to the point of being well, uber annoying.  He’s melting down, throwing things, (mis)behaving in a 2 year old style.  Oh, pity all the work and struggles to get him beyond all that.  I pray this is a temporary glitch, that he will bounce back once we get a summer routine to balance him. 

The day after he graduated from preschool, he walked around singing and doing the motions to classroom songs.  He headed upstairs for awhile and I heard him in his big brother’s room – he usually plays with his Legos and messes them all up (making N grouchy).  I went up with the laundry basket a few minutes later and saw that he had the door shut (a no-no).  I opened the door to him sitting on the floor singing and doing motions with a very serious expression, full of purpose.  His teachers gave the students a CD of the classroom songs and he had it cranked up.  Awwww.  At the time I thought it was cute - that he was mourning in his own way.  He can’t express that he’ll miss preschool, but he’s bringing it back by listening to his favorite songs.  

After several days of meltdowns, screeching, pointing and grunting – my family is just baffled.  What is going on with him?  We drove to TKD this morning to find it closed – forgetting that they’d changed the schedule for summer.  So, we went on to do other errands since we were out and about.  He was fine until the grocery store – always a gamble anyway.  I tried to keep him happy by sitting him in a spare cart and letting him play itouch games while his patient sister pushed him.  Still, he awoke from his reverie several times to create a dramatic scene.  Notably on the choice of cereal, ice cream and ice cream cones (extremely important choices of course!).  I thought I was going to outsmart the tantrum: I allowed the 3 kids choose their own of each of those items.  The one parameter was it had to be on sale.  He found that one rule and had to fight it.  lucky charms2Screaming like murder and clutching the box he wanted to his chest, he fought.  The kids wrestled and struggled with that box, yanking it free to run it down the aisle to put it back , G whining, whimpering, getting it again.  Tantrum, wrestle, return, retreive, repeat.   Finally G laid on top of the box in the cart.  Why?  Because the store brand of Lucky Charms didn’t have the circle marshmallow like the name brand does.  By gosh, he wanted that circle badly.  I quietly slipped the name brand box aside later.  We’ll empty the turbo-sized economical version in in our cereal containers, he hopefully won’t remember.  We made it through the store.  Barely.  If the other kids weren’t with me, and excited about the special items they picked out, I’d surely have left with him kicking and screaming.

Tonight after several more meltdowns, I was catching up with my husband while the kids were upstairs preparing for their showers.  As usual, G didn’t want to shower, or have anything to do with the process of going to bed.  We heard the typical yelling and commotion.  Suddenly we heard bonk bonk bonk bonk (about 10) down the stairs.  I flew to the steps, already imagining one of thembowling vball sprawled at the bottom with a broken bone or two.  Instead what I found was N’s bowling ball on the landing, still rolling.  Of course, G was at the top with a grand grin.  The injuries and damage it could have done did not occur to him.  It just seemed like a fun thing to do.  Or he was mad and then enjoyed the loud crashing it made.  We scolded him, lectured a bit on the danger.  He didn’t register that he even heard.  He cried hysterically 15 minutes later about it.   

My epiphany hit me over the head.  G’s been reacting to his lack of routine.  Regressing, acting out because his body, his world is unkempt, disorganized and he doesn’t know what to expect.  What is my problem?????  How could I be surprised that he’s having transition difficulties?  I just spent months upon months prepping, reading, writing, taking seminars and workshops, talking to advocates about how to fight for an aide for G to transition into kindergarten. I above all, know how hard transitions are for G.  I’ve explained/written about it in 100 different ways in my agendas, emails, notes for the meetings.  I of course knew this summer would be difficult – G has been extremely routine-driven this year.  I preplanned, booked most of his summer with summer camps for that very reason.  To give him the structure that he needs. I’ll admit that it’s to wear him out a bit too, for the rest of us.  Smile 

But alas, I forgot to preplan for this one week off before his camps begin.  It took a crashing bowling ball to finally bonk some sense into me.  Good thing.  Now I can work with him when he acts out, instead of grueling frustration, anger, helplessness and tears (from both of us).  I feel pretty foolish, and also sad for him that he can’t verbalize his feelings, his needs.  G’s singing school songs was his way of self soothing, a coping mechanism to gain some of his routine.  For him, it wasn’t sentimental as I’d thought, but necessary.  

Off I go to make up some visual schedules.  I’d better hide the bowling ball too…

visual-schedule-image

I found some great resources for social stories:

http://www.autism-pdd.net/forum/forum_posts.asp?TID=14154&PN=1&TPN=2

Here’s one for summer vacation.  While it might be too complicated for G at his stage, I can gain ideas. 

http://www.setbc.org/pictureset/resources/summer_vacation/summer_vacation.pdf

Here are some sources for visual schedules.  If you’re new at this, don’t be overwhelmed.  I bought all the supplies and let it sit for 6 months.  Finally I picked up a notebook and jotted out quick line drawings to make a simple schedule.  As long as the child understands, it doesn’t have to be a masterpiece.  Use whatever system works for you.  It’s mostly individual for home schedules, just create your own with clip art or stick figures.  Or better yet, find a great app.visual schedule

This site has wonderful links:

http://blog.autismspectrumdirectory.com/2011/01/14/thinking-in-pictures-visual-schedules-for-students-on-the-autism-spectrum/

Happy Summer!  Don’t forget to set up some routines.  Don’t wait for it to bonk you in the head like me!  Winking smile

Please share any resources you have for visual schedules, social stories, itouch apps, and the like.

 

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