Last Night’s Volcanic Eruption

29 11 2011

One of the main reasons I wanted to start blogging about this was last night’s outburst.  Cameron had occupational therapy (O.T) last night, which went even better than usual.  Last time, Cameron’s O.T. gave us a sensory brush to potentially help him calm down when he has outbursts.  As with everything we’ve tried, I hoped for the best, but expected no real result from brushing my child like a cat.  If you’re not familiar with the sensory brush, it’s a soft, rectangular, white brush with flexible bristles that are brushed over the skin on the child’s arms, palms, legs, soles of feet, and back for about 5-15 seconds per area.  This is followed by joint compressions (basically just physically pushing the joints together) on the shoulders, elbows, wrists, hips, knees, and ankles.  To start out we’re supposed to do it every two hours, which was fine during break, but now he’s back to school.  His first brushing didn’t happen yesterday until about 3:00.  Yikes.  We used to tease that Cameron needed to be brushed, and it turns out our sarcasm was accurate; Cameron was literally a different kid this past week.  Outbursts were fewer, less dramatic, shorter, and more controlled, which was literally miraculous in our lives.  I think I heard Handel’s “Messiah (Halleluiah Chorus)” playing on more than one occasion over our Thanksgiving weekend.

Prior to knowing he had SID, I would become infuriated like never before with his extreme explosion of outbursts.  He would scream and cry about things that were seemingly insignificant—he lost a game of Memory, he had to come inside, and the worst one—he had to stop to go to the bathroom (potty issues will come in a later blog—there is SO much to say about them)! I became the most ridiculously impatient and angry person, that I’m embarrassed to admit it.  It was oxymoronic and counterproductive for me to throw a fit because he was throwing a fit, and I knew it the entire time it was happening.  My own extreme anger bomb would be followed with a sincere apology to Cameron.  Sometimes the apology would lead into a discussion, but oftentimes, Cameron seemed to barely notice my detonation, perhaps because he was too focused on his own.  Keeping all of this in mind, we had the most amazingly peaceful weekend we’ve had ever.  Cameron was so good, I was able to more clearly see and hear the sass that was coming from our 3-year-old daughter, Amelia, which is typically overshadowed by Cameron’s “quirky” behaviors.

So our weekend was great.  Then came Monday.  Ugh…  Transitions have always been difficult for Cameron, especially when he has a nice, enjoyable, stress-free week off of school.  He wasn’t thrilled to be back, but he pulled it together and made it through the day.  He claims to have had a bad day because he was “staring at the SMARTboard,” and when his teacher asked him to answer a question, he couldn’t because he wasn’t paying attention, so she took a “ticket.” He must’ve perseverated on this all day, because he kept bringing up his “bad” day, and that’s all he had to back it up.  The beginning was when arguments about my phone began between Cameron and his sister.  I have a free app that’s a puzzle game for preschoolers on my phone, so they were supposed to take turns playing.  Unfortunately, Cameron couldn’t stop himself from becoming Amelia’s game foreman, constantly barking orders at her, and Amelia couldn’t stop herself from becoming upset about everything he said, and then, as an added bonus, continued to try to do things just to irritate him.  So there were tears when I took the phone away, but nothing too drastic.

Once at home, I asked if they wanted to watch a show while I made dinner.  As a full-time working mother, I’ve officially surrendered to the fact that on nights when I’m tired, the kids are grumpy, and my husband has class, TV is probably my best friend.  Amelia was pumped to watch the creepy animated “Nestor the Long-Eared Donkey” treasure that I recorded, but Cameron wanted to play in that room, and stated that he would get distracted by the TV if she watched it.  I avoided this discussion by playing the movie anyway, and watched as he got sucked into Nestor like a moth to firelight.

And then there was dinner.  We were eating while practicing gratitude like Christine Carter tells me to do in her book Raising Happiness, when I made the mistake of saying that we couldn’t play Life tonight because it would be an early bedtime.  Apparently “early bedtime” was equivalent to “I killed your dog” last night.  It was like someone lit a firework in the house—not one of the pretty fireworks, but those really loud, repetitive ones that hurt your ears.  Cameron screamed, sobbed, yelled, “I HATE early bedtimes!  I’m having a bad day!” on and on and on and on…  I put him upstairs and told him he was welcome to join us when he was calm.  He didn’t want to go, but did after some threatening.

When he came back, he went postal on Amelia for looking at him.  Yes, he was sitting across from her and he did just walk into the room so it’s normal to look in the direction of someone who just walked in, but making sense was not something Cameron was about to do in those moments.  Screams and cries sent him back to his room.

Back down after a few minutes, and he’s upset that she’s looking at him again.  I move his seat to the other side of the table, and he’s upset because he’s no longer sitting next to me.  Another outburst, and back upstairs.

Another encore performance occurs after he comes down and tells Amelia to sit in her seat the right way, and I tell him to stop parenting (although maybe I could’ve used the help in those moments).  Back upstairs, and I follow.  I roll our yoga ball up and down him with me on top, and I see in his eyes the most tortured look I’ve ever seen on my son.  He was sobbing a terrible, uncontrollable sob, and I knew that he could not stop.  I’d never seen him like this.  I picked him up, put him on the ball, bounced him, and hugged him, fighting back tears because I can’t stop this.  I am not in control of this, and neither is he.  I felt completely helpless.  I encouraged him to bounce until he felt better, and I left the room to cry.  I felt like I had no one to talk to who would understand, or who would not try to “fix” it, or who I felt like sobbing to.  Meanwhile, Amelia ate her broccoli while singing to herself, and came to ask for dessert.  Thank God she’s independent!

Cameron came downstairs again, and had to go back up to calm himself one or two more times.  During that time, I texted my husband in class and asked him to call me.  He talked to Cameron, which seemed to work.  When Cameron was done, he said, “I know what Daddy said.  He said if I have one more outburst, I have to go to bed, and I’m probably going to have one right now,” as tears welled in his eyes.  I told him he’d be fine, and he was.  I don’t know why Daddy needed to calm him, but it worked.

Through this night of volcanic eruptions, there were positives: I did not lose my temper like I used to; Cameron eventually took himself to his room to calm down- a strategy that will help him; and I decided to start a blog to share, give support, and maybe get some support in return.

And now, on to pick up my cherubs! Here’s to a calmer evening!




4 responses

12 12 2011

K- Is this brush that your OT worked with something that I can do with my autistic students or is this something only the OT can do? We do joint compressions, but I can see this being a fantastic tool for our sensory diets!

13 12 2011

Hi Lisa! You can totally use the brush yourself. Your school’s O.T. may have the brush and may be able to show you how. It doesn’t work for all kids, but it definitely works for mine! Otherwise, I bought mine for $3.75, so it’s not a huge investment. Let me know if you need more information!

12 12 2011

I can feel the ache in your heart, I have the same pain. It’s so hard…..

14 12 2011

Went and cornered our OT and talked to her about this… she said that normally they don’t use the brush with the high school kids as their neurological systems are fully developed, but that new research is coming out that says that techniques like the brush and joint compression may be helpful even with this age. She is coming next week to train me on the proper way to use this tool. Thanks!!

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