I have decided to read my posts about the kids to them before I publish and see if they feel comfortable with what I am sharing. All three kids were present as I read this out loud, it was a happy experience for all of us. I also, found that it helped Daniel with recalling events and talking about his feelings. Hm .. I wish I would have started this sooner, oh well I will now.
This was Daniel’s third week of music therapy. The first week he was incredibly anxious, but that had more to do with all of the changes that he had been trying to transition into from my new schedule, his new schedule, and David’s new schedule. He was “happy anxious” about going, however; when we went he wanted me with him because it was new. After a fabulous first session, we ventured to the lobby to head home. I asked the accounts manager some questions and Daniel immediately went to a solar-powered sunflower that was sitting on her ledge. He asked me a ton of questions – I was not aware that so many questions could be asked about such a little object that had memorizing dance moves.
Daniel refused to leave for several minutes, I was not sure if I was going to be able to get him to part with that little sunflower.
It became a bit awkward, but you know Daniel’s feelings and handling situations like that in positive ways take precedence over anyone else. Frankly, I no longer care if other people are uncomfortable. I am referring to a parent that was in the lobby waiting not the staff or therapists. They were all smiles and tried to hide their “ok, that is a lot of questions and quite an intense interest in a solar-powered sunflower” faces. We could not stay there all day so I told Daniel that we would look it up on the computer when we got home.
He begged me on the way to get him one.
This concerned me because he was getting too intense about it and could not think of anything else. I pulled up the sunflower and let him look at it when we got home. At this point, Daniel was saying things like “I need it. Get it for me.” We were not in a position to buy it. Literally, I know the thing does not cost much, but our funds were strapped to the point of not being able to get a $10 gadget like that a couple of weeks ago. He could not understand this and the more that he got upset the more that it became clear that I could not get it for him. Somewhere in the midst of anxiety he had latched onto this gadget and by 2:00 pm he was ruminating to the point of sobbing because he wanted me to get him one or go get the one at the music therapy office. I was baffled. Daniel had never responded like this with any object — let me rephrase, Daniel has never been able to communicate this with his words before, he may have been feeling the same intensity, but the sobbing was new.
At one point, Daniel said to me “I cannot live my life without it!”
It broke my heart to see him so upset and say such things. However, it was also one of those moments where I was so thrilled that Daniel was using those words in that context. I know he got a similar script from Joshua because Joshua uses extreme words to express himself. He does not mean a lot of what he says, and half the time I am confused because I have no idea where he got such ideas. He is such a sweetheart and has a sensitive nature and the world impacts him greatly. He expresses that in the only way he knows how – we are all learning around here to find our balance and gain better emotional regulation. [And always will.] It’s hard when you are not sure what you are feeling most of the time. I digress … a lot. When Daniel continued to tell me how he could not live without the sunflower I asked him if I could hold him for a little bit and talk to him.
He let me until he calmed down.
As things settled I asked, Daniel why do you feel that you cannot live without the sunflower? He said, “Because I love it. I like the way it moves, I love it so, so much.” I told him the main reason why we could not get it and explained that the other one belonged to the lady. Then, I explained to him why I did not think it was a good idea for him to get the sunflower. I reminded him of how certain movements get him too excited. He looked at me with his big brown eyes, filled with little tears and such heartbreak that I felt like the worst mom in the world and he said, “But I love it so, so much.” I have to be careful with certain items that I get him because particular movements, lights, and objects can cause him to get over stimulated which is not a good thing. He does not easily come out of it and he will ruminate – seeking objects that feed into that stimulation.
He loses his words, ability to focus, his eyes glaze over, he does eat, and he does not sleep.
Some things I cannot allow him to stim on for his own well-being. I have some stims as well that I have to limit or eliminate all together for the same reasons. Actually, everyone in this household does. However, with the sunflower I felt that it was not necessarily the movement. Daniel had never expressed such deep connection with an object even though he may have similar wants or responses to items he had never been so attached instantly. I felt that the object was giving him a penetrating calm for his anxious mind. He was seeking something to focus on to help with his transitions with all of these changes. I decided to look for an object that was similar, but with different motion. I asked him if that would work and told him that we could go look at some solar-powered gadgets. He felt better.
We found a solar-powered frog on a swing.
He has no challenges with back and forth movement so I asked him if he would like that when we were able to buy it. He said yes, and the rest of the week went much better — filled with questions of when he could get his frog and reminding me of how much he still loved the sunflower. When we went back to music therapy the next week he wanted to see the sunflower, but he was happy because he was going to get the frog. We did need to stay for a little while, but he was much better with leaving it. He also, went into his session without me that day. It was his idea he said, “I will go in by myself.” I was happy that his anxiety had eased. On the way home he said, “Can I go to music therapy forever? I wish to go to music therapy forever. I like it so much.” I told him that we would do whatever we had to in order to make sure he could keep going.
He said, “Good.”
His frog came in the mail the next day and he was filled with joy. He has taken it everywhere with him since he got it. He has also, told me that he loves his frog too. Yesterday, he went to his music therapy and he went to see his sunflower right away. Then, he happily went to his session AND composed a song about instruments with his therapist. The smile on his face when he comes out of each session is like singing angels in my heart. (Did I just say that? Geez, I did. I am a cornball sometimes.) One of the therapists mentioned that they found the sunflower at the dollar store across the street. Guess who had to go to the dollar store? She did not realize how much Daniel had connected to the sunflower. We went – no sunflower. However, we did find little valentine solar-powered cupid devils.
He wanted one; we got it along with one for Ariel and elephant one for Joshua.
I will try to make this shorter, it was not satisfying and Daniel expressed to me how much he wished he could have the sunflower. After watching him with the little devil cupid who had similar movements, I decided to get the sunflower. Yes, the sunflower should be here in a couple of days. I am not sure why he has connected to it like this, but he has and he cannot let it go. I told him that he would have to take breaks from it if he could not leave it alone or if it caused him to get too stimulated. For now he is ok with this. It is difficult at times to know when and when not to give him the stimming items that he needs. I am not sure what it is about the sunflower, I happen to have an attachment to sunflowers so I find it interesting that he has attached to it. We will go with it and see what happens.
Some remarkable things transpired from all of this.
Daniel has never sobbed over anything which, I interpreted as him truly caring about it a great deal. Whether it is the sunflower or what the sunflower represents to him it does not matter, it means a lot to him. He has never used words like, “I cannot live my life without it.” He has not been so open to allowing me to comfort him and explain things to him when he is in such an emotional place – although, this was kind of a new emotional response. In the past, he was not able to see the item again that triggered similar responses of “want.” I had to call ahead of time at a few different places and homes before we came over to have people put the items away until we left. He was unable to let it go and triggered an upset if he still saw the items. I am over the moon to hear what Daniel feels. I am excited to see how music therapy helps him. I will end with Daniel’s own words from yesterday.
“Mom, I love music therapy. I love going to there. I love the music. I love my, what is her name again? Her, I love her. I love going because of her and the instruments, and because I love that sunflower so, so much.”