Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Melting down the meltdowns.

I have some how kept a truth about my life a secret without even trying.  I did not realize I was so good at keeping secrets.  My own mother often chides me for over-sharing on Facebook.  I do share…and sometimes more than my mother can handle but it turns out I also keep some things so hidden I don’t even realize I have hid them.  Confused yet?

While camping my sister and I disagreed with how I was dealing with my son.  She is doing her masters in family and marriage counseling – she is too smart!!  So her and I sometimes have differing views – what the books say vs. what a parent says.  I was about at my wits end for that day.  My son was being hard to deal with.  I don’t know if I have mentioned it on the blog but he has Sensory Processing Disorder – an Autism Spectrum Disorder.   Being his parent can be exhausting.  Mentally and physically it will suck the life out of you at times.  This was one of those times.  I had been fending off a meltdown all day.  I had distracted, intervened, and done the ‘please oh please don’t have a meltdown’ dance all day.  I.was.done.

So I let my sister do what she wanted to do. I let her parent him.  She didn’t do anything wrong.  But it all went to hell in a hand basket pretty quickly.  The meltdown started. 

A meltdown for a sensory child occurs when they cannot take anymore.  There brains cannot handle what is going on.  It is often a little thing that sends them over the edge.  So little that no one can figure out why that was a problem.  In reality it is not the most recent thing, it is a collection of the whole day, week, month of events. 

Every child acts out differently.  Mine screams.  Screams like he has severed a limb.  It is blood curdling and shocks people.   Sometimes he runs – like into traffic or out of a building.  He will hit others or himself.  He will bite himself and say he is ‘a bad boy, I am not worth anything’.   He will obsessively grab at his tongue as if a hair is in the back of his mouth.  He will then throw up over and over until he is sure the hair is gone.  He then sobs.  Sobs as if his life is ending. 

I am used to it.  I know what is happening.   It breaks my heart every time he says he should be sent to jail for being so bad.  It turns out people, even my sister, do not know that this is my reality.  This is my son.  This is a regular occurrence. 

Things like this happen at school, at church, at a friend house.  They happen everywhere.  In general they happen more often when he is out of our home.  This is because I control a lot of his environment when I am the boss.  I also know his cues.  I pick up on the signs that he is overloaded.  I have never managed to prevent a meltdown.  I have been able to prepare myself, my husband, and even him that one is coming. 

My poor sister was horrifically upset.  She had never seen him like this.  I starred at her dumbfounded.  How is it possible that she had never seen this?  I thought about it then and realized most of our family had never seen him meltdown.  I haven’t hidden it – but I also don’t record it on instagram.  In some ways these meltdowns are as much a part of my life as getting dressed or drinking coffee (sweet sweet nectar of motherhood).  I forget that people don’t know this.

Tonight I needed to vent about it.  If you have managed to make it through the first 650 words – here are a few more.

To the mother with a child losing their Schmidt – I feel ya sister!  Can I buy you a coffee and a donut?  Here let me take your grocery buggy back for you while you strap that screaming child into the car.  PS.  You are doing a great job handling this.

To my mother - Yes, mom, I just threw this up on the Internet.  I over shared.  Consider it my therapy…I was out of vodka.

To my beautiful sister – I love you SGF.  Someday you will be a great mom…or just that weird aunt.  Whatever.  The little dude is so blessed to have you.  I am blessed to have you – even when you tell me to calm the heck down and be patient.

To those that have no idea what it is like to have a child that is different – it is harder than it looks this motherhood deal, eh?  I know sometimes your kids make you nuts too.  All I ask is please don’t give me that judgmental look when my kid is freaking out in Walmart.  Explain to your shocked kids that sometimes people feel things differently and sometimes they don’t know how to act when it gets to be too much.   Smile at me.  Send me the silent mom vibe that says “You got this!” - even if I obviously don’t.

And lastly,


To my little man, I love you so.  No matter how many times things get wonky you keep on going.  Life is so hard for you.  I know I don’t truly understand what it is like to be in your shoes.  You teach me everyday how to lighten up, how to forgive, how to love, and how to keep going even when it hurts.  I wouldn’t trade you for anyone else.  I am so glad I get to be your mom.

4 comments:

  1. EJ, I love you <3

    While my littlest's issues are totally different (and, for now, officially undefined), his ADHD spectrum and his own, almost entirely opposite sensory issues, I feel like I "get" your posts and FB status' on the topic. (Aside from the tantrums you described here, which fall under, there by the grace of God...).

    At the same time though, I feel like his issues aren't severe or "real" enough to "count", and I bow to you for your incredibleness. No joke! And as far as your oversharing... (I think you know I'm SUPER guilty of that myself ;) ), I'm grateful for it, as it makes me feel like part of some community of "moms of kids who are amazing, but in totally socially-unaccepted ways".

    Not to mention that, it was one of your candid posts, with a link to an article describing various sensory disfunctions, that made that part of things "click" for me (have I used enough quotation marks yet, lol?). I had read a fair bit about sensory issues, but most were about the over-sensitive type, like J, and I wasn't really aware of the (mostly) under-sensory type, which is my D.

    Anyway, just wanted to say I appreciate this blog post and love all your FB posts. And if I got a little too blabbery here, it's because, while I AM out of vodka, I'm not out of wine ;) (And I am always too blabbery, lol!)

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  2. Thanks for sharing this. I am always appreciative when someone is willing to 'over share' and help others understand a part of their life that is unfamiliar to so many people. Sometimes people think their response (in Walmart) is the right one, but I always want to know, what kind of response do THEY want in this situation? Thanks for providing a helpful answer. THe kids will still stare (it's inevitable, as they process what they're seeing), but as their mom, I feel like I have at least one response I can give them.
    thank you for being willing to share what you've had as a normal part of your life that you've unknowingly kept quiet :)

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  3. Love you Erin. You're doing such an amazing job. Your post brought tears to my eyes. I've never seen him act out like that. To hear what you're dealing with... I don't know how you do it. He is precious, and so are you! Prayers for easier days... and more girlfriend time out sans kids!
    Hugs~

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  4. Love that you shared this Erin. Last year Micah was dealing with some severe anxiety/fear (borderline OCD) and it was rough. I feel for you as I know it's hard enough to deal with the issues, let alone how other people react to your kid. So, thanks for sharing!

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