Saturday, August 10, 2013

U is for Understanding

Blogging Through the Alphabet

Well for of all....I was going to write a post for my hubby to say:

Congratulations on getting his Bachelor's Degree!!! Love you Babe!!!

Was going to write a post on his 3 year journey getting his Bachelor's!!  Then last night changed my mind.

I grew up in a generation where parents taught their kids respect.  Spanking was used.  And you DID NOT argue back with your parents, even if you didn't agree with them.  No wonder kids with autism were labels as "bad kids".  They went through life undiagnosed and so unsure of themselves because of all the negative comments.

We started with the same philosophy that our parents used on us.  Spank out of love, not anger.  A swat on the butt to help get their attention away from the wrong choice.  Joey was a real challenge.  12-13 years ago, the diagnosis of autism was still way up in left field.  Even when they said ADHD, we were floored.  I cringe still thinking about the bad parenting choices we made.  With him spanking was just a way that mom and dad were allowed to hit, and yet he wasn't.  In his mind, "Wait, I can't hit my brother, yet mom & Dad can spank me for hitting him....????"

Tonight, I am finding myself so torn.  I pray many times  a day for the strength to maintain patience and understanding with the kids as I gently remind them that no matter how angry they are when they need reprimanded and shown the right can't just scream back at me.  Sensory issues just plain suck!!!

We went to the fair tonight with all the kids, and of course it's Friday night and it is busy.  We tried to steer away from the rides where the majority of the crowd was, but the parking lot we used forced us to walk through that area to Lydia's Craft judging.  In our minds, we just wanted a nice evening to show the kids that the fair is more than a bunch of rusted rides and fixed games on the midway.  Lydia and Caty had entered a ton of art and cooking projects.  Too me I was showing them what a county fair was all about.  I kept telling Lydia, "you'll be just like Carolyn Ingalls in Little House on the Prairie entering you Strawberry Jam."

First we did little walking through the merchants buildings and visiting the One-Room Schoolhouse display from the local Historical Society.  Doing that first, basically put a strike against us in the tired area.  We made sure he had food in his system, but crowds are a definite issue with Joey.  And even though we tried to curb this sensory issue by camping out in the Craft area in the Display Barn.......I forgot about the amount of people that would still be walking by him.  You wouldn't think much about that, I mean he's playing his DS.  But imagine his brain, you are intently trying to play a video game when your brain is the speed of a bullet train, and the video game seems to be able to keep up.  And then wait, a cat just ran across your lap distracting you....oh and wait....a second cat......oh and then a whole group of slower moving cats.  Your eyes can't stay focused on the video game......your brain is suddenly distracted and can't decide whether to focus on the cats or the video game?!?!

It didn't help last night that the judge was taking forever....and I mean forever.   She looked at projects, then looked at them again.....and wait, then she opened/closed, examined each one separately again.  Next year, we won't be attending the craft judging if she is the judge.  Joe wanted so bad to stay with Lydia and watch her face the way I got to watch her face that morning when she got a blue ribbon for her photograph of a flower.  But even she got bored with waiting and waiting.

Anyway, we tried walking around with Joey to look at the 4H rabbits and the Poultry barn.  He liked that, but again there were crowds.  It was very frustrating to him and on top of that exhausting.   And since it was evening....oh man....his meds are almost out of his system.....we were basically shaking a can of soda and opening it.  Because that is what happened.... Emotion spraying out everywhere.

We finally gave up and left because we knew Joey was about to explode, and sure enough he started to on the walk back to the van.  More crowds and loud music.....

This post isn't about anyone around us that may have been upset, we worked hard to make sure that no one was disturbed.  But it's about our understanding as parents.  Did I like to see Joey acting like that in public?  No. Did I know that if someone did see him, they would laugh...stare...or even make fun of him?  Yes.  Fortunately none of that happened, otherwise I may have to include that.  I don't enjoy being screamed at during a sensory meltdown, but our job is to help him find better ways at handling it.  Me screaming back at him does not help, but only fuels his sensitive side.  It is my first instinct as a human though to yell back when being yelled at.  I mean if I don't take it from a stranger on the street, then I am not going to take it from my son!!!

Just a few things I have found...and I am no expert.....that have helped me get through some of his sensory issues.

1.  Lots and lots of prayer.
2.  Empathy....Remembering that I don't liked to be screamed at so a child with sensory issues that is already feeling overwhelmed is not going to handle it well also.
3.  No spanking because he doesn't understand that he can be "hit" yet he can't "hit".  Since most of his misbehaving is during sensory issues, it's a very bad time for this to happen.
4.  Keep snacks handy, Joey tends to melt more when he is hungry or his blood sugar is low.
5.  Remove the situation that we are in.  In this case, we tried removing from one area to only find issues in another area, so we just eventually removed the whole fair from in front of him.  This isn't always easy when he is overstimulated from a video game, but if he's not removed he feels worse and the meltdown is worse.

These are in no particular order.  Everyday is a challenge and every meltdown can bring a new situation to look at.  But as I start this new day, I will be praying for patience, understanding, and endurance to make it through the day.  And there will be lots of smaller prayers and deep breathing so that I do not forget throughout the day.

Linking up with other moms at Blogging Through the Alphabet.


  1. Congrats on your hubby getting his bachelors degree!!!! As for what you are handling I think you did a great job explaining what it is like for Joey and how you handled it. I know it is tough and very glad you didn't encounter stares or rude comments from complete strangers. Parenting is one of the hardest jobs and it you have special need kids it is even harder:(. You both are doing a great job and I admire you for it

    1. Thanks!!! It went better this morning for him. This crowds were less. But tonight he is walking in the parade, so we are trying to keep things as mellow as possible :)