Find Out What Jen Finds

My journey on the spectrum of life … and the lessons I learn along the way …

The Aftermath – False Evidence

  • September 11, 2008 4:52 am

Well maybe it wasn’t that dramatic…

But it certainly was not what I was expecting. Before I got out of the school parking lot he is having some sort of meltdown in the back and I’m ducking trying to miss sneakers and sweaty socks.

I was so taken by this behavior that I announced that we were no longer going to the grocery store but will wait at home until it was time to get The Younger. Which kinda stunk because it totally ruined MY plans. If he had had another pair of shoes, I’d have to pry them out of my ear. Well, maybe I would have kept them in my ears to drown out the yelling, screaming, and unbearable whining. Thank goodness for the 5 point harness, I might have been trying to dodge undies and urine.

Normal meltdown. Normal Obvious Source. Abnormal Actual Source.

Now the tantrum was a typical tantrum if I look at it from the outside. Especially since no pee was involved. And it did occur shortly after this conversation:

Me: We are going to the grocery store to get what is on our list (which I had inconveniently forgotten), and then we are going to pick up The Younger.
The Elder: And thheeennnnnn, we can go to Gary’s House.
Me: Well you know, I just got off the phone with his mom and we won’t be able to. His little brother is sick.
The Elder: But I want to go.
Me: I know you do, but I know you don’t want to be sick, do you?
The Elder: But I want to go to there. I want to play with Gary.
Me: And he wants to play with you, but it can’t be today.

Cue: Flying Shoes and Spraying of Sock Sweat

Me: Ok, I guess we need to go straight home then.

Cue: The uncontrollable tantrum. Hadn’t seen one of these for a while…

The Elder: (ranting and raving) I want to go to there. I want to go to there. (rinse and repeat)

Now he has not been to see a friend outside of a birthday party or other social gathering for a long time. In other words, this is not the first time in months that he has been denied going to see a friend. As a matter of fact, he is denied that practically daily (lol). Plus, I never promised him that we would play with Gary today. I never really promise him anything that I don’t have 100% confidence that I can deliver. It was just something that me and his mom were trying to work out.

Me: This is not how you behave to get what you want.
The Elder: He had to stop to think for a bit, but still continued to whine. But I want to, I want to, I want to….
Me: You cannot behave this way in school and you can not behave this way with me*. *Why is it that school and teachers have more influence in the behavior department? sigh…)
The Elder: But I want a juicy snack.

DING – that’s the sound of a light bulb going off.

Apparently, when The Kiddos and The Hub go to the grocery store, they ALWAYS get juicy snacks on aisle 3.** What ever will he do if they decide to rearrange the store? Now that may or may not be true. But when said that, I realized that this tantrum was hunger-induced, even though he didn’t realize that.

I first learned of this false evidence when he used to tell me he was hungry, even though he might have had a full plate of spaghetti. (gluten free of course – only 99¢ rice noodles at the Asian Food Market and taste better than the overpriced alternatives in my opinion. Kinda like the noodles in chicken noodle soup. Hmmm. I’m hungry.) I would say something like, “You can’t be you just ate a lot of food.” And of course that would lead me puzzled as to why he was stripping naked and throwing his plate across the room. After a few trials (and a stroke of luck) I figured it out one day that he was thirsty. After that, I now ask him to think again whenever he tells me that he is hungry. That might look like:

Are you sure?
I don’t think you’re hungry.
Could it be something else? (he usually will continue his perserveration of “I’m getting hungry.”)

Finally, I will guess at what it might be to see what kind of reaction I get. I have to be careful here else we might switch him to destructo mode. One day I just flat out said, “You are not hungry. You are avoiding bedtime.” He was totally shocked that I nailed him. If I could have gotten video of him sulking and his posture as he dragged himself back down the hall, I would totally blackmail him at his wedding.

This is a perfect example what I have been trying to explain to others, that just because he says something doesn’t mean that it is necessarily true. So what we had here was the reverse case of that. He actually was hungry but he was using something else as his perserveration. This is a perfect example what I have been trying to explain to others (teachers, preschool directors, other caretakers and parents) that just because he says something doesn’t mean that it is necessarily true. And just because he does that, doesn’t mean that he is “lying” “manipulative” or “defiant.” It is because he does not know how to label his feelings and emotions accurately. He only appropriately presents a sad face when he is asked to because he was trained to do so. Much like the fast food places were trained to say “Do you want fries with that?” Who goes around just saying that when they pop out of the womb by instinct and know when it is appropriate to say it. I mean, do you say it even if the customer has already ordered fries? This is a bid DUH for us Typicalians, but that is exactly his perception. If he was untrained or only mimicking what he has experienced in the past, then it may not be accurate. Oh one day that person came in and ordered a Double Cheeseburger. Even though he ordered a Salad this time, I’m still going to give him his cheeseburger and not the salad.

To some it may be frustrating (ok maybe to everyone). But to someone who is willing to understand how his brain works may actually see it as fascinating. I know that this is me. Do I want him to do it? Not if it is inappropriate or will deprive him of the social life that he wants. But can I help re-train him in such a way that he feels loved and safe instead of rejected and incompetent? Of course I can and of course I will. I want to say that that is a DUH because I am his mother but unfortunately that is not the case for every child.** That is not to toot my own horn, but to mourn those who have been victims of the fatal rejection from their own parents and those who are still tormented by the ones who should be giving them the most support. But is that too much to expect from other adults whom we trust our children under their care? Perhaps it is. I finally posted about what happened at Summer Camp which spurred a sabbatical from my church. And then I updated the featured articles with this post about a local student with autism died.

In the end, I discovered that The Elder had not eaten his lunch other than a bite or two (“Juuuuussssttt a little bit on the top.” in his words). Well, I would be cranky too if I had gone 6 hours with only a snack. But I’m thankful for the whole Tumultuous Incident because it helped me discover that I need to devise a plan to make sure that he is eating at school.

It also helped me discover that I need to devise a plan to help curb his behavior issues in class. Yep. You guessed it. We forgot to knock on wood at the Parent/Teacher meeting after we discussed how wonderful he was doing…

Stay Tuned…