A family's story

Posts tagged ‘Behaviors’

Mostly Wordless Wednesday

So yesterday we had this:

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And this:

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And today we have this:

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So I think some of the increase in echolalia was due to the virus he got. It is a nasty tummy bug. At least he was able to keep down pretzels and lemonade this morning. Poor Tater…

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Oh, poop.

Echolalia is something that we’ve dealt with since Tate started to talk. At first we were all, “yay, words!!”. After a while, it became clear that he was stuck on certain words…and as we found out later, that is, indeed, echolalia.

When he was 2, “go!” was a favorite. Everything was, “GO!”. As he got older and into EC preschool, he favored, “Pix, mix, fix!” He loved the word families. When he was four, “ghost” became another one. In Kindergarten, he punctuated everything with, “Ewww! Diapers!” It seems only natural, I guess, that his current echolalic fixation is none other than “Poop!” (It really is the word poop…so I guess I can count myself lucky that he doesn’t favor crap or shit.)

Every.other.word out of his mouth tends to be “poop!”. It’s driving us all a bit mad, really.

Example:

“Tate, do you want lemonade or water?” 

“I want melonade, Mommy Poop.” 

“Try again.”

“I want lemonmelonade, Mommy….Poop!”

Or another one:

“Tate, what is 5-3?”

“2 Poop!”

Or, his favorite is to say all of his classmates’ names….and according to Tate, they all have the same surname–“Poop”! There is “Allie Poop” and “Joanie Poop” and “Nora Poop” and “Ryan Poop” and “Alex Poop”. Alex is a new kid. He started last week. His teachers now have hyphenated names…as do the specialists. His ABA therapists do, too. No one is exempt from this latest echolalia.

I am officially “Mommy Poop” and Hubz is “Daddy Poop”. Jake is “Jake the Poop” and Cole, well, Cole has a special distinction….he’s “Cole Horse Poop”. And every single time Tate says it, Cole retorts, “I am NOT Cole Horse Poop. I am Cole (insert middle and last name here)!!!” Both Jake and Cole are done with it. Jake is even trying to bribe Tate to not say “poop” with some of his prized, precious Bey Blades. No dice. 

As with any echolalia, we are trying to think of what started this obsession. We are trying to address it. His ABA team says to ignore it. We tried, but now he’s getting bold. He is establishing eye contact (I know!!) and shouting it. He will even say, “Mommy Poop. Hey, I said, “poop”.” Just to get a rise out of us. At school he is doing the same thing.

At school when he says poop, it is rewarding. He has 5 classmates who giggle or tell the teacher. I pretty much know the tone of voice of each kid in his class now, as he mimics them perfectly as they tell the teacher. Tate loves those scripts. 

His teacher has an “off-topic” chair that Tate sits in when the poop talk gets to a Code Red level. he does stop, but the past few school days, he has been in there more often than not. We even implemented an “off-topic” chair at home this weekend. Tate spent 10 minutes there this morning. He rattled off a string of poop talk as he got it out of his system. 

I never knew how much the word “poop” could be said in a 10 minute interval. Holy, moly. I think he even gets anxiety about the reactions that he’s going to get from people by saying “poop”. It is so consuming right now. 

And I am at a loss. I want my conversational boy back. He was doing great until about the middle of last week. It possibly could be tied to the hitting incident at school. Or the fact that he has a new bus route. Or that they added a new student to his classroom. Or that the weather is changing. Or that there have been a few discussions about summer. Or that he started playing his special needs soccer again. 

I guess what gets me, ultimately, is that with every new “behavior” there is always the sleuthing involved to try to figure out exactly why it is happening. That is exhausting…and puts me in that hard place. 

You take the good, you take the bad…

The past few weeks have been pretty good ones for Tate. He’s been engaging others more, using more spontaneous, appropriate speech, and exhibiting pretend play that we’ve never seen the likes of before. It has been uplifting for us..and he just seems more content…a win-win.

Of course, with the good, there are the not-so-good moments…and yesterday was one of them. Tate was with the social worker when I got to school. Initially it was an added session, as his typical Monday session had been cut due to a meeting. However, it was an opportune session for him because he had hit one of the classroom aides. *sigh* The aide that he hit is is his favorite. He loves her…but it just goes to show that when a breakdown occurs, he reverts back to rudimentary behaviors.

From what I was told, he was getting increasingly frustrated with an in-class assignment. He has OCD-like tendencies, as part and parcel of his diagnosis. He was struggling to write his numbers on his math assignment perfectly. He was starting to run out of time. He was frustrated, feeling overwhelmed, and getting more dysregulated as his medication window was closing. (We only get about 3 and a half good hours per dose right now.) His aide asked him to put the assignment in his folder for homework. He didn’t express his emotions verbally. Instead, he hit her. Upon hitting her, he had immediate regret…but was not sure how to express himself other than to whimper.

The social worker came and calmed him down. Once he was more regulated, after a brief session on the mini-trampoline, she did a complete social story with Tate. She talked about how classwork can be hard. She talked about how it is ok to get frustrated, but it is not ok to hit. She gave him some strategies to use when he is frustrated, like counting to 10 or looking at his picture of fans or of Doc McStuffins. (Those bring him to a happy place, they really do.) He drew a picture for his aide, and gave her a big hug and told her he was very sorry.

On the way home from school, during our entire 4 minute drive, he scripted the entire scenario. I could tell from his tone that he felt very badly about what had happened. He’s not a violent kid. He’s not typically aggressive…but when he gets to a dysregulated place where he can take  no more, there are times when he is unable to access his tools..and he regresses to that scared little 3 year old who had no good way to communicate. I know that this is not the first time this has happened..and I know it won’t be the last…but it breaks my heart each and every time.

I know he had anxiety about school today…he was up at 4 am. He was not only up, but he was overly silly and giddy and script-y, too. Today is going to be a long day for him…and for all of the rest of us who are trying so hard to help him along in this world. So, just like he continues to work hard, we will work with him, reminding him to use his tools…his deep breaths, his pictures, his words. We will run through social stories with him. We will comfort him when a breakdown occurs, and help him figure out a different way to handle his emotions next time. Because there is always going to be a next time..and hopefully we can use these prior incidents as learning experiences and help him grow. 

The Super Sleuths are on the Case

Tate has been a wreck. In Tuesday’s post I discussed how dysregulated he was this past weekend. Thing is, the past 3 weekends have been like that. He wants to stay home. He whines. He scripts incessantly. He bosses his brothers around like a little dictator. I know he’s struggling…and I can’t pinpoint the exact cause of his distress. And that is what distresses me.

It may be the winter weather. Tate has never liked winter. He hates pants and long sleeves. He shuns boots and mittens and hats. He complains about the 2-layer winter coat that he needs to wear when the temperatures dip below freezing. Please do not get me started on snowpants…which almost always end up with one or both of us in tears. Tate is super sensitive to the cold. The kid “runs hot”, and yet, when he’s outside in the frigid air, it’s like he’s in suspended animation and he just can’t get his body to work. Commence whining, as he has yet to learn to cope with the cold. (I really can’t say much..I hate the extreme cold, too.)

Maybe it’s the change in the way his team at school is handling his behaviors. They are working on helping him learn to wait…which I have established is incredibly difficult for Tate. The new routine and behavior plan may be stressing him out. That, on top of the weather may be making school a bit too much for him…and he holds it together there fairly well, so he falls apart at home–his comfort zone???

Maybe it’s the lack of outdoor recess? It’s been FRIGID this week. The kids haven’t been outside at all. My kid needs physical release. He needs that time to run, swing, jump, crash, yell, scream. That outdoor, be-as-loud-as-you-want-to-be time.

The dysregulation could be a result of anxiety over my change in behavior. I notoriously struggle during the cold winter months. I get SAD. I am much better this year, thanks to a healthier diet and regular exercise…but I still don’t get proper sleep (thanks to my children), and hence, can be a bit short and crabby..and down. It’s harder to be the cheerleader when all one wants to do is lay on the couch and read or surf the Interwebz.

Tate is on meds for his ADHD. He had been more focused and attentive and less impulsive on the meds. But we haven’t had a change in dosage in a year. In a year, he has grown 2 inches and lost about 8 pounds. (He had been “obese”, so the weight change was being monitored, but wasn’t detrimental.) I have noticed less focus and more impulsive behaviors lately. He is fidgety again. And he wants to stim all.the.time. We see the psychiatrist in 2 weeks. I am wondering if it’s time to change his medications…

If I’m honest with myself, I know that the struggles are from a combination of all of the above. He has a lot going on. I guess my sleuthing needs to uncover which of the above is the biggest driver of his behavior…and then I need to see how I can help him feel better. Which is difficult when he won’t break a script…and won’t use a script to help me out. All I can decipher right now is that he’s pretty darn miserable…and I told him last night I want to help him feel better. That garnered me a hug. Which gave me a dash of hope that maybe we can get him to his happy place again.

Right now, though? I’m stuck in that hard place…and it’s not a place where I want to be…or him to be.

Why Does He Do That?

I know that Tate, who appears outwardly typical in appearance, just, well, isn’t. His brain works in mysterious ways.

When our Tater Tot is excited, he flaps and volume control goes out the window. When he’s anxious, he paces, he flaps, he pulls his underwear waistband, he emits some odd sounds…a mix between a hum and a pained cry. So, yeah, not “typical”.

We walk the fine line that so many who live with Autism do…the one between encouraging more socially acceptable behaviors and allowing your child/brother/nephew/grandson just be himself.

Our family knows that this is Tate. It’s who he is, and how he reacts. We all, 2.5 y.o. Cole included, know how to talk Tate down from his anxiety. We all know which stims work best when…and we are starting to decode his scripts…even Jake, who has language issues himself, knows that Tate’s scripts mean something.

I have been preparing myself for the inevitable. The questions from kids in the neighborhood, at church, at the store, at the park….why does he do THAT? However, last night, as my boys frolicked in the Summer-ness outside, I felt blindsided.

We were outside with two neighbor families. The one family has a daughter Jake’s age, and 2 sons, each a year behind my two younger boys. The other family has a 3 y.o. daughter and infant son. The kids had been chasing each other through the yards and the cul-de-sac out front. They were all having so much fun. And Tate? He was keeping up, having fun and, loving being in the thick of things.

Somehow we ended up in our neighbor’s back yard. They have a small playset (since it’s only their 3 y.o. who plays out there currently), which has one toddler swing and a regular swing. The older neighbor girl, the one Jake’s age, began to swing on it. Cole was in the toddler swing.

Tate ran toward us. He made a beeline for the regular swing. He started to flap. I could see the anxiety catch up with him. Between the 7 kids roaming around, and Tate’s desire to swing on the unavailable swing, his inability to cope became obvious. He lost his words, and the emotions took over. He flapped. He paced. He made that noise.

Me: It’s ok, Tater. You can have a turn soon. She’ll let you swing when she’s done.
Tate: hruuuahhhuuuh. I’m fine. Huuurrmm. Huuurrmm. (Flap, flap, flap)
Me: Settle down, sweetie. It’s ok. (I reached out and gave a deep pressure hug.)
Tate: I’m fine (his script) (Flap, flap, flap)
A: Mrs. Hope, why does he do that?
Me: The flapping?
A: Yes. Why?
Me: (hoping the panic didn’t show on my face) Well, A, Tate reacts to anxiety differently than we do. Like, when we get excited, or really, really want something, but aren’t sure we’ll get it and we just wring our hands or think things quietly in our heads, well, Tate shows that feeling with his hands and feet. We might feel that way, but we do it inside, where Tate puts it out there.
A: Ohhhhh…
Me: It’s not bad or anything…just a different way of handling his emotions.
A: Yeah, I guess. (Gets off the swing.) Hey, bud, you can use this now.
Me: Thanks, A.
A: Sure. He really wants it more than I do….

Aaaannndddd, exhale. I am very lucky that one of my first explanations was to a girl who is (1) very mature for her age, and (2) fairly understanding of younger kids. I am sure she had more questions for her mom later, but she was content with my explanation for the time being…

Now to refine my explanation for future questions, looks, and judgements…

By the way, while we discuss Autism in our house, we really haven’t said much to other kids. Tate has never asked, and if I tell him, I don’t know how much sinks in. Jake asked once, but then he was like, oh, that’s Tater.

Our friends know, but never ask if we want to talk to their kids about it…and I never know if I should bust into a lesson about neuro-diversity.

Sometimes this parenting gig is hard!

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