A bit of a different post. This post is just a snapshot into four hours of our day.
It’s 6:30 PM and Tucker is already asleep.
Today was a rough day-which is why I’m not writing until now. His schedule has been off for a few days and I knew today was a day to just ‘let him be.’ Even if that meant 3 hours of iPad time.
Here is how I know.
I looked in his eyes and they were hazy…missing a sparkle.
While driving before lunch he asked me the same question three times in five minutes.
While driving before lunch he was trying to tell a story and had to start over four times, he never did get the story told.
It didn’t take me long to discover that I needed to feed him some quality food. I knew he was tired. Tired and hungry is a horrible combination for anyone – but for someone with autism? It’s like the ultimate double-whammy.
We were in a bit of a hurry so we went to our local sub shop, Sub City.
While waiting in line he started ‘dancing.’ It’s a form of stimming – his body feels out of place and he’s overwhelmed so he starts moving and bumping into anything and everything. Today, it happened to be Estelle.
Finally, sweet Estelle turned around and whispered, “Mom, can you please ground him. He’s bumping into me and other people.” (Read about ‘grounding’ on Day 7 – 7 Senses)
First, how AWESOME is it that Estelle knew exactly what he needed?
Second, how AWESOME is it that instead of getting frustrated she asked for help?
It’s super, amazingly awesome.
I simply moved closer to him and reached for his hand. He grabbed on and stopped moving immediately. Estelle whispered, ‘That’s amazing.’ I winked at her.
We sat down to eat and this is the conversation that happened.
Me: Tucker, how is your brain doing today?
Tucker: It’s a mess.
Me: Can you tell me what that feels like?
Tucker: What do you mean?
Me: Well – like when you are tired and hungry you get overloaded and I’m just wondering what that feels like.
Tucker: Well….it feels like I want to punch something.
Tucker: Yeah. Like something is inside my body and it just can’t get out. But I wouldn’t want to hurt myself or someone so it just gets really frustrating.
I need to make a special note. He did in fact USED to punch things – including me. However, if there is one thing I’ve learned – it does NO good to bring up these past events. All it does is make him feel awful – and that seems quite counterproductive. Please don’t make your child continually pay for ‘mistakes’ that they really couldn’t control.
Me: Hmmmm…you mean like a balloon and when it’s too full and it makes a really loud noise and bursts open?
Tucker: Yeah. And my head hurts. Like my eyes can’t really focus and I can’t find my words at all.
Me: Uh huh…keep going if you want.
Tucker: But you let me take a break without making me feel like I’m going to punch something.
Me: I try hard not to push you when I know you’ve had too much.
Tucker: Yeah…and you know that balloon? It’s like the air just gets out fast. You know when you let a balloon go and it gets all crazy? That’s why I end up getting all crazy. I’m either going to go crazy or pop.
Me: I’d rather have you go crazy and move all around than pop. Especially if pop means yore going to punch something! Do you know that’s why I grabbed your hand while you were in line?
Tucker: You did?
Estelle: Yeah – because you were bumping into everyone.
Tucker: I was?
Estelle: Yes you were. Then mom holds your hand and you stop moving all around.
Tucker: I didn’t know that.
Me: It’s okay Tuck – you didn’t have to know that.
Tucker: Thanks for helping me, mom.
Me: Actually Estelle recognized that you were needing some help.
Tucker: Thanks, Estelle.
Estelle: No problem Tucker. I think you’re awesome and I love you.
Tucker: Yeah – you’re pretty great too.
This conversation really happened. This is the result of years of advocating and helping BOTH children understand what is going on.
When we left the restaurant his brain started working again – at least according to him. On our way home he retold the same story three times and asked me about supper twice (in the 10 minutes drive).
Each time is met with calm, with patience, with kindness. It’s not his fault that his brain is having a rough day.
When we arrived home I encouraged him to take the iPad and lay down. I’m not sure when he fell asleep – but I know that he’ll most likely sleep until morning.
Tomorrow will be a better day…
If not, the next day might be.
For I believe on rough days that a better day is always on the horizon.