Because Autism

There are just a few days left in the school year.


Both my boys have performed remarkably well, all things considered.


B thrived back in the school environment. He has said on several occasions that even with having to wear a mask, it was a great year.


Lots of things has changed. For B, Covid meant that his band concerts, art show, and 5th grade overnight camp were all cancelled. Even parent/teacher conferences were Zoom calls.


It was weird, but manageable. And he is happy.


J started at the Middle School. For the first few weeks, he was on a hybrid schedule (as was the whole school system), only going to school a couple of days a week. Eventually he went 4 days a week...about the same time the elementary schools went back full time. Due to his special needs, he was allowed to go every day. Monday's he was remote, as was everyone in the Middle and High Schools.


Eventually the Middle School brought everyone back--4 days a week. They found that having a remote day on Monday was actually convenient for teachers and students (there are a lot of Monday holidays!) After the New Year, they did the same for the High School Students.


So here we are, just a few days left.


And just when it seemed like everything was going so well...J had a meltdown.


Now when a kid has a meltdown, often it is due to something happening--they didn't get the toy they wanted, someone said something mean, a parent wouldn't buy them an ice cream. Not usually anything major, and often times, it's not really a meltdown, just a little temper tantrum.


Now, when an Autistic kid has a meltdown...it is a full blow meltdown. Even if they are verbal like J is, often times they cannot tell you what is bothering them. They may become violent, or destructive.


It is no tantrum.


And who knows what can cause it.


Sometimes it is because they are over stimulated by something. Or they thought something was going to happen, and it did not.


Whatever the reason, it is like Jekyll and Hyde. A sweet little boy one minute, and a split second later, a monster...ripping paper, throwing pillows, taking all the covers off his bed. And the only sound you hear is like a growling. And crying.


When you try to calm him down, by speaking softly and calmly, sometimes it works, sometime it doesn't.


Sometimes, I can get him to calm down...sometimes it needs to be Dad.


It can last 10 minutes...it can last a couple of hours.


Anyway, J had a meltdown.


It was full blown, and it took him over an hour to settle down. He threw pillows, he ripped paper, he tried to rip Barney's head off (and he loves his Barney stuff dinosaur!).


It had been a long time since we have experienced this. And I'm still not sure what set him off.


Most parents understand wanting to help their children, and most will do anything to protect them.


There was nothing I could do to help J. He just needed to calm himself down.


Eventually he did.


All I know, that meltdown took as much energy out of me as a half Ironman. I was completely spent, mentally drained.


It broke my heart.


He came out of his room, eyes red from crying, and apologized for the outburst.


That alone was a win. The fact he recognized the episode and its consequences is a big deal. Many times, cause and effect totally escapes J.


It is part of the, "executive functioning" skills that most people acquire. Autistic people can have

difficulty with this.


And just like Jekyll and Hyde, a switch was flipped. J was back to being a sweet, loveable kid.


When will the next meltdown happen...who knows?


All I know is that I will be there when it does, and I'll do my best to help him out.


We will just keep doing the best we can to help him cope with the uncertainties of daily life.



And teach him important life skills...like cleaning the bathroom!


UPDATE:


We just got word that J was awarded the "Lion Pride" award at school for the year, showing good character, and based on 5 prinicples: Be Respectful, Be Kind, Be Responsible, Be Fair nd Be Trustworthy. And just like that...he's back to being the kid we know and love!



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