Monday, June 10, 2013
A Child with High Functioning Autism generally does not deal with change very well, especially when it is unplanned change. Two weeks ago, our family was planning a camp outing for Memorial Day weekend. The kids were so excited! Two days prior to our planned outing, our youngest, who had been complaining of chest pain among other symptoms was not getting better. After several tests she was diagnosed with pneumonia. The camping trip had to be cancelled. We broke the news to the family and our son did not handle the news well at all. He began hitting the bed and screaming that it wasn't fair and why did our daughter have to get sick and how she ruined everything. The meltdown lasted about 45 minutes. Kids on the spectrum can definitely feel emotion and the emotions can be overwhelming. They may not be able to tell you what they are feeling, but it comes out in these explosive meltdowns. He was very disappointed and has a difficult time with expressing that disappointment without going into a rage.
Another week passed and this time we were heading out of state to visit some dear friends. We were an hour North from our home, when once again, our youngest started having issues. After talking with the nurse triage and contacting the doctor on call, we were instructed to head to the ER with our daughter. Our son heard the conversation as I called my friend to say we old not be making it up to see them. This time, we were very surprised at his reaction. He burst out at the beginning saying how unfair it was, but then was quiet and he began playing on his iPod. Every few minutes we heard, "We have to turn around!" as we headed back toward Children's hospital. After about twenty minutes, I told him how proud we are of him for not going into meltdown mode. He wasn't kicking the seat in front of him or crying and screaming or making his little sister feel bad about being ill. It was a HUGE accomplishment for our son. We told him that his feelings of disappointment were valid and it is perfectly fine for him to feel that way and to even tell us how he feels. We saw a very mature kid that night.
After that weekend was over, I sat down and talked with him about his two very different responses to two very similar situations. I was able to use these last two weekends as a teaching moment for our son. After our talk, he was smiling, knowing that he was able to use self control and he made mom and dad proud. Will he be able to react the same way again? I sure hope so. The one thing I do know is that he is becoming more aware of his reactions and actions and over time the overwhelming reactions are becoming less and less. It is a long road yet, but we are seeing him learn as we are learning with him. We are learning what makes him tick and when and how to talk with him. Sometimes it is letting him have space to work things through on his own. We are so thankful for our son and love him so much! I love watching him grow and learn as we grow and learn right along with him.