Tag Archives: meltdowns

Going Down As One Of The Great Days

This morning started off awful. From the moment Daniel woke up it was meltdown mayhem. This post is by no means going to be complaining about what took place. I have been waiting for it to happen any day he has does remarkably well with everything that has gone on the past two weeks. However, it is exhausting and when I have my own issues along with trying to manage everyone else around here I do reach my limits. This morning was two hours of nonstop meltdown and I could do nothing to help Daniel. I think playing in the snow yesterday pushed him to his brink. This morning when he could not find his thermometer to check the temp outside there was nothing that was going to ease his frustrations.

When I could not find it and we had reached no resolution, he just went to his room.

He went to his room! He has not done this before. Usually, when it reaches that point his day is ruined. He can find calm, but he will still be on edge and practically anything could trigger him. It is still very difficult for him because he is not able to communicate all the time what is upsetting him. He seems just as surprised by his emotions as we are at times. He does not understand the toll that all of the sensory/emotional/social/everyday processing has on him. I still struggle with this too. When you are having fun or just living life you do not expect it to be so trying. It is hard to remember and realize how much processing your brain is doing – many people do not seem to need to worry about that.

This week, just as last week his school schedule changed.

He lost his speech pathologist, who he loved dearly; though he has accepted that she is no longer with the school he still does not understand why she left. He is affected by not having his regular sessions. He has also, been doing a lot of school work because he is a few lessons behind. I have had him get ahead on the subjects he likes so we can spend extra time on the others. It snowed and that has him in all sorts of excitement and anxiety. The temperature change affects us; our bodies do not regulate temperatures very well. The cold weather is hurting me terribly. He played out in the snow which has been a new sensory sensation for this year. He loves it, but he has no comprehension of when he is too cold so he does not understand why I will not let him play outside for 8 hours.

There is more with the excitement of Christmas coming and school break lingering around the corner.

There is just so much for him to be thinking about and processing through. When he hit his limits this morning, I understood the why’s I only wish I could have helped him in some way. But it needed to come out. He needed to decompress and reset. After a while of being in his room with the door shut, he came down and said; “Mom, come here I have something.” I followed him up to his room not sure what he was going to show me. When he says that it usually means that he wants me to give him something that he knows he cannot have, like a light bulb because he wants to break it and see how it works. :-/ Not today; today he showed me what he had “created.”

He said, “Look what I made! It is a home. The pink carpet is the water where my turtles live. This is where my kitten lives, under here is where Pooh Bear lives, and Elmo lives here. This is where my penguin lives, this is snow and Tigger lives here.”

I asked him if someone had showed him how to do that or if he created it all on his own.

He said, “I thought of it all myself and created it myself.” Through it all he was smiling and full of giggles. No one would have known only thirty minutes earlier he was in tremendous distress and inconsolable. Since we have moved into this house Daniel’s meltdowns have lessened. I am going to write a little more about his struggles when I write the post about environments and how much it affects our lives. However, I wanted to share this for a few reasons. I was hoping to give people some insight who may not understand why meltdowns occur. They are not because an Autistic child or adult are throwing a fit. There are reasons for them. The reasons are not always so clear and can seem sudden, sporadic, and may be triggered by something that seems trivial to others.

They are not they can be complex and layered.

If someone is unaware of how things can affect an Autistic person, they may not consider how traumatic it can be if their routine is suddenly changed. For me change equals chaos. Everything that I knew a moment ago is has all mixed up. In my mind, I see file cabinets and when change occurs it is like someone came in and pulled out all of my beautifully organized file folders. They are now a mess strewn all over the place and I am frantically trying to get them back to where they belong. I can handle the change as long as I have answers for it and I have time to put everything back where it is belongs – adjustment time. Time to adjust can vary depending on the situation, sometimes it only takes minutes other times it takes me years.

I wish I knew why this was so, but I do not and I have no idea how a situation will affect me until it happens. 

Maybe others have more insight on that or quite possibly it is just different for each individual. If the Autistic person is unable or even unaware of why they are feeling a certain way they cannot explain to the person(s) the reasons for some of their behaviors. For instance, Daniel is unaware of how much energy and mind power it takes for him to do his math. He loves math so he does not think that he is working very hard. However, he has been learning fractions this week mixed with multiplication tables and story problems. These all take a great deal of processing, the story problems are challenging and draining for him. We have to spend extra time on them because if they are not worded “just so” he will get too confused and not be able to move on.

When I read the questions, he may ask things like why does that person need to buy such and such and why did they need so many.

Or why does he want to give pencils to his friends? Where do they live, are they real, is that a boy or a girl? These are a few questions that he asks when given a story problem – his mind is full of questions. He is constantly processing, analyzing, and trying to make sense of his world. When the additional components of say sensory processing is affected this becomes even more of a challenge because he has to work twice as hard if not more to do things that do not cause him such struggles. It takes time, processing time can be slow some days and rapid fire others. I keep track of as many things as possible that I know he is processing. Interestingly, I have a knack for observing and studying people in this way when they are close to me. I think I had to learn to do that because of my upbringing it helped me survive.

I do this with everyone in the house that is why many times I do not realize how much I am processing too.

Those things that seem not to be bothering him are ones that I try to remind myself of because I know at some point he will have a response. He will have some sort of reaction it could come with only a few questions and he feels at ease or it could come after several hours of having a meltdown. Either way, I try to remember so that I can tell him. I have been explaining these things to him. He has asked me, “Why do I get upset?” When he asked me that one day, I decided that I would try to make sure I explained to him the reasons to the best of my observations. So far, this has helped him feel much better about himself and he has not been triggered into greater meltdowns because of being confused by them. We are learning and growing, I am still doing this for myself.

I was not aware of how confused Daniel was by his meltdowns until a month or so ago.

His ability to share that with me has given more understanding as to help ease his fears and anxieties. Daniel is not made to feel badly when he has a meltdown. He is not punished; I do what I can for him and try to make him feel safe anyway I can. Sometimes he is able to communicate what he needs sometimes he is not. If I do not stay calm he will escalate, I try to stay calm and not go into fight or flight mode myself. Fight or flight with my kids means I shutdown. It is not good when I shutdown because I lose my words. If I lose my words it makes Daniel very anxious. Today I had to take few deep breaths and walk away. It was not one of my better days, but we managed through it. I am having my own reactions to the last two weeks, the change in my routine, and the weather change.

When he feels overwhelmed now he has a “safe” place to go to (his room) which has helped a great deal.

Today Daniel decided to go to his safe place on his own. He chose to take time in the quietude of his room to make himself feel better. He did not rely on me to comfort him. This is a huge deal for him and it makes me very happy for him. This brings me to some more pure awesomeness! Daniel has an incredible imagination. However, much of the time no one knows what he is imagining. He does not share often what or how he is playing. To someone who does not know him it could look as if he is simply staring at objects or moving them around. He is doing much more than that. Today he shared with me about the homes he created for his animals. His animals are his best friends. He shared with me how he plays with them and that he talks to them.

He has told me on several occasions that he loves them as much as he loves me as well as everyone in the family.

That means that they are family to him and we treat his animals as they are too. Ariel has the same connection to her dragons and Joshua with his stuffed animal dogs – they are real. Daniel talks to his talking Elmo, Tigger, and he has informed me that he also, speaks penguin language to his baby toy penguin that makes sounds. This is all new, he would not talk to talking toys in past – he would just giggle and smile. Now he has conversations with them and he told me that he has an imaginary friend. I have heard him talking to him a few times now. He started that after Joshua was talking to his imaginary friends “Jake” and “Jay”, but he says that he has a bunch of them. The first time Daniel told me he had one too I asked him his friends name and he said, “I don’t know.” He has recently, given his friend the name “Daniel.” He names his stuffed animals Daniel too. :-)

I admit I had a rough time of it today – I am pretty drained, but this day is definitely going down as one of those great days … Pictures! 

Related Posts/Reads (The first few are from Autism Discussion Page)

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Mind Dump

This post is going to be a mix of stuff. It is one of my mind dump posts because I have been consuming so many different things that I need at least some of them to get out to clear my mind. :-) Aww, the way my brain processes.  First on the list an article that I read it made me think about how at times I have had inappropriate facial expressions while someone is angry with me or sad even. My kids and I are very bad at laughing or smiling when someone is upset. I have burst into laughter or couldn’t stop smiling when Joshua or Daniel have had horrible screaming meltdowns. I don’t want to. I try to stop, I cover my mouth, I don’t let them see me, I run out of the room, but sometimes I can’t stop. I am not laughing or smiling at them at all, inside I am hurting for them, I am wanting to help them.

It is the strangest thing. 

I have done this a lot in my life when people are angry at me, oh, gosh have I gotten in a lot of trouble. All of the kids do it to me too when I am upset at them, or if I have an angry face. They will start laughing at me or smiling. Most times I do not get upset, there are sometimes though that their deeds require a serious mom. I still have a hard time not smiling when they start doing that. When I cry as well, they come up and smile in my face. Daniel will laugh and ask: “Why are you crying?” and just giggle away. I have known that they are not doing it out of disrespect or being defiant, it is how they respond. I understand it because I do it too. They would never mean it in a hurtful way, they are very sensitive and compassionate kids. In our household it actually helps us quite a bit, when we get each other smiling or laughing about a situation it helps us be able to talk about it. It helps not to go into shutdown mode.

After I read this article What the Face of Love Looks Like I thought possibly, we are just showing our faces of love to each other.

“That’s the face of the love for you, or at least one of them. The restraint to avoid fighting fire with fire. The ability to absorb rather than return the hostile volley. The instinct to try take the edge off a partner’s negative emotional state.

(Let me add that the hilarity of the Whitesnake video added at the end really won me over with this article.)

Speaking of love…

This article 4 Psychological Processes That Are Ruining America was very thought-provoking indeed. I connected it to my previous self-worth posts, by really pondering each of the four processes. I do feel they express an issue with how we evaluate our own self-worth and the worth of others. I like to challenge my thinking, I like to dig around and expose where I have accepted fallacies, I don’t know why I just do. So when I read something like this, I go through my own thinking and try to change where I have fallen into them. As best of my ability, I never knowingly operate in The We-They Feeling, Blaming the Victim, Diffusion of Responsibility, or Egocentric Biases. I suppose most people would say that as well, they do not knowingly operate in these processes. I would hope no one would once they discovered that they were. I like how at the end of each segment there is a simplified solution to think about. I am not going to go into my opinions, I suggest reading it yourself and see what you think.

Some other fascinating videos and articles that I have found about music and neuroscience.

Musical Minds was suggested to me by a friend months ago, unfortunately our TV channels here did not air it, but I finally found it online last week and found it to be quite interesting.

I am in the process of watching (listening)  Explorations from Music and Neuroscience – Ep. 628 as I am typing this right now. :-) Wow! I am at 15 minutes with this video and so far it is very intriguing, I can’t wait to see what else he shares. (I hope it works for everyone I cannot find it on Youtube or anywhere else.) He just quoted an excerpt from this:

Secene 1: Where Everything Is Music

Don’t worry about saving these songs!
And if one of our instruments breaks,
it doesn’t matter.

We have fallen into the place
where everything is music.

The strumming and the flute notes
rise into the atmosphere,
and even if the whole world’s harp
should burn up, there will still be
hidden instruments playing.

So the candle flickers and goes out.
We have a piece of flint, and a spark.

This singing art is sea foam.
The graceful movements come from a pearl
somewhere on the ocean floor.

Poems reach up like spendthrift and the edge
of driftwood along the beach, wanting!

They derive
from a slow and powerful root
that we can’t see.

Stop the words now!
Open the window in the center of your chest,
and let the spirits fly in and out.

Last article I will share The Neuroscience of Music.

I can get so sidetracked with neuroscience, I have always been fascinated with how the brain works and why it does what it does. I guess that is why I had so many friends that were psychology majors. I didn’t have to go to school I just picked their brains with a billion questions and read their textbooks. :-) Now I also read neuroscience books to go along with it! Yippie!

I really want to get this book Emotion and Meaning in Music  along with several thousand others. Ha ha ha

Alright I think I got enough out, I confess I am in a consuming information loop because my grandma came to town, change. I took my mom and grandma to the airport this morning because they are going on a really awesome TCM cruise this weekend. Then, my wonderful, jolly, white hair grandma (the kids call her “Grandma with the White Hair”) will be staying here until the 19th. I am taking care of my mom’s dog Fitzy, so that is throwing our schedule all off. These are all good things, and ok I am just trying to adjust this morning. I am actually doing quite well. I believe that I can focus on the rest of my day now. I will leave you with a photo that my mom says sums her up completely.

Yes, that is her Santa and Flamingos. Awesome! And it is true that can sum up my mom completely when she is wholly being herself.



 

 

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Revisiting Aspergirls The Book

After thinking about some of these things that have truly “connected” in my brain this time around, I decided to revisit another book Aspergirls by Rudy Simone. I touched on the chapters titled “Marriage and Cohabitation” and “Burning Bridges” this evening. I did go over several others as well, but these two stuck out to me. First the marriage and cohabitation topic. I went back over this because it helped me remember that I am not the only one. The thing about my memory, which seems to be a common thread with Aspie’s, is that my long-term memory is insanely accurate and easy to retrieve through my senses or other triggers. My short-term memory is not as easy to retrieve and I forget a lot. I thought that there was something seriously wrong with my brain at times because my short-term memory was so bad. After reading this post “The Aspie Memory” I felt great comfort.

The terms “filmographic” instead of photographic and the “mysterious disappearing short-term memory” made me smile and say: “Thank you!”

One purpose for me writing all of these connecting factors is to create a deep-rooted memory. I am trying to get that long-term memory movie that plays and can be infused by my senses and series of events to ensure that I DO NOT FORGET. I know I will if I do not. I digress! In the chapter about marriage and cohabitation she has some very insightful things to say. First an aspergirls home is very important. It needs to be safe, we have control over all of our sensory input and needs in our home. She said: “If we have enough money to live in our choice environment, home is heaven on earth.” What a lovely thought! Oh, when my home is in perfect order, the perfect temperature, the perfect lighting, on and on I am the happiest person in the world. When my closet is straight and pantry is organized all neat and orderly, while everything else is a mess, I can find a little solace looking at them. Ok, sometimes I have plopped down in the middle of my closet and just smiled when everything is the way I want it.

I did it again…order makes me get dazed and giddy. :-)

She commented on how having someone in our life can be a benefit. Having someone helps us to not fall into complete solitary habits creating routines that we can become very rigid with. Also, that having another person in our life can bring challenges and help us to grow. She said: “Marriage is difficult; it is a series of exchanges, compromises, and conversations. It means sharing your physical space, meals, having less alone time.” Ok, I know that most people know this, but when you are actually living it, it can be much more difficult to grasp. For me I would say the conversation part can be the most challenging. Sometimes I just do not want to talk or cannot from the intense sensory/social things that I have experienced. I am not trying to be rude, I just need quiet.

Another thing that really popped out at me was this:

“For us, it really takes a special kind of person to be in it for the long haul.”

I know that I am difficult. I know that I can be frustrating with my questions and constant fixations that I get so incredibly excited about. I know that I am intense and many times TOO honest, I have tried to stop me, but I just can’t. I think David may be happier if I wasn’t so honest at times. :-) If I keep it to myself though, I get sick and can get depressed. I really got a lot out of reading this chapter again because it helped me feel accepting of myself and realize that I do not have isolated issues or feelings. I will share some more quotes that I thought were good.

“I need a partner to keep me sane! He knows more about AS than me and he’s very aware about how to handle my meltdowns or upsets.” (Sarah)

“I chose my Aspie husband because he was uncomplicated, straightforward, honest, and strong in areas that I am weak. We connected on a non-verbal level. I knew he understood me and I understood him.” (Jen)

She said before the next quote:

“Because we don’t like the whole dating process, and because there may have been few men whom we had a romantic connection to, some of us jump very quickly into marriage. Aspergirls like myself have married because we were at a certain age; we didn’t know what love was, we just thought it was the right time.”

“I have married twice, both times quickly without dating, and at the insistence of the other. I would not recommend this; both men ended up abusive. Now I love my solitude!” (Widders) 

I found what she said and this last quote to be very helpful with my own feelings of “I should have known” for just getting into relationships and not dating or questioning why the person just ended up in my life. It seems to be another area where some Aspie’s fall into and that helps me not feel so stupid to be honest. She goes on to talk about how we are innocent and believe people at their word and believe that they will keep their words to us. Speaking about her own marriages, she felt lonely in both and they criticized her. I am going to share some other quotes she wrote because I think that they are important and empowering.

“It’s really important that a person with Asperger’s is not criticized. That only makes us curl up into a ball.  We need positive reinforcement for the good things we do, and then we will strive to do more of that. It takes a very special partner to understand this.”

“Some of us, because of the social criticisms and isolation we have had to endure, may have internalized that we don’t “deserve” a truly wonderful partner; that being lonely might be the price we pay for being flawed. The right partner will look at those same attributes with a very different perspective than the wrong one.”

“Meltdowns and depression can take on mammoth proportions for an Aspergirl and it takes a special man not to run away in the face of our emotional storms.”

The last one about meltdowns and depression are a pretty big deal. Though I understand many of my triggers and sensory/social issues that can cause me to have my moments they can feel random and all of a sudden. I have not had deep depression or major meltdowns in a long time because of the progression of awareness and understanding I have gained about myself. They can happen if I am pushed (figuratively) into talking or requested to express myself when I do not have the words or understanding of things. If I have social confusion or sensory overload I can meltdown or shut down. Sometimes I am just dizzy, feel nauseous, and have no words, those are the times not to ask me questions or force me to talk.

Last quote from this chapter:

“A person married to an Aspergirl has to be nurturing, patient, and he has to read–for if he doesn’t read about AS, he’ll never get you.”

The “Burning Bridges” chapter.

OH! I am notorious for burning bridges. When I am done with someone I am done. It takes a lot to get me to the point of getting rid of a person entirely in my life, but when I hit my wall that is it. I do not have what my mom has, the ability to forget their existence. Sometimes I wish I did. I tend to fixate on them for a while until I have resolved completely that I am done. I realize that this is not good, but I am not sure how to stop it. I have done this with jobs as well. When I discovered that a couple of places that I worked for were dishonest in their practices I could not force myself to go. I HAD to quit. I did not give notice and that left gaps in my resume. There are certain things that in my mind trump other things, such as, I felt it was just to up and leave those places without notice because they were liars and thieves.

That trumped my irresponsible behavior by not giving  notice and not having another job lined up.

I am glad to see that I am not the only one that has some pretty erratic behavior. In the chapter many of the women share similar stories that they did in their own life. I am one who has randomly decided that it was time to pack up and move and start over on several occasions. This type of behavior seems odd for an Aspie since we do like routine and constant. However, when “burning bridges” we are the one in control. It has always been MY decision to make the choice to leave a relationship (any type) or employment and never looking back, while in burning bridges mode. I confess it has felt good to make those decisions and walk away and say ‘Screw you!” BUT then I have been left with the consequences. Those are always painful and hard to deal with. I do not suggest always burning bridges because in my experiences they come back to burn me again.

I have had to humble myself and apologize on several occasions because of this behavior.

I have learned my lesson after so many years of doing it and I have decided that it is much better to think through things and not make those decisions based on “being done” with people or being in a meltdown mode. In some cases it was the best thing for me to do. I do think that being a mom and being older has changed this behavior in me quite a bit. When I was single and younger I could just pack up and go and never look back, I cannot do that now there is a lot more at stake. There have been several reasons for my burning bridges. Mostly it was because I felt trapped. I felt like I was in a bad situation and needed to get out. Some of them were and it was good that I got out. Others I did out of anger or hurt. Those are the ones that have always come back for me to deal with.

I will share some more quotes from this chapter and then sign off.

If you have not read this book I highly recommend it for anyone who thinks that they may be an Aspergirl or someone who loves an Aspergirl and wants to understand her better. It is a great resource for parents. This is just my opinion I do not get anything for saying all of that, I really think that it is a great book. It has been very helpful to me anyway.

“If I do not like a situation it’s so much easier to just walk away, avoid it and never look back. Usually it’s just a relief but then if I’m avoiding someone I have to worry about running into them so it can add some stress too. I have a really bad memory so after some time has passed, if I run into someone, I’m just like nothing ever happened.” (Nikki)

“My life is a series of burned bridges. At the time, it feels as if I am right and that I am standing up for what I believe in. Often I am. I have, however, learned in the past decade that I can be very black and white in my thinking.” (Camilla)

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