Wednesday 21 October 2015

Final straws on a pile of worries

Final straw for the camel

Many kids with ASD have 'triggers' for major meltdowns. Or at least that's the way it seems.  It was long ago that I figured Anthony couldn't possibly have as many 'triggers' as it appeared.  Everyone has days where things seem to be stacked against them and we have a 'what else could possibly go wrong today' feeling. 

At any moment we could come across the final straw that breaks the camel’s back.  For Anthony though, it's as if he never really gets rid of this load.  He wakes up with a pile of straw already bearing down on him so that just a few small issues are just too much, and...snap. 

Anthony's load only gets larger throughout the day.  The unexpected, sensory difficulties, feelings of not doing things right or well enough are all added to issues from yesterday, and the day before and so on.  We had such an example at the weekend. 

Anthony was attending a club that he goes to twice a week. The club has recently changed their sign in sheet by adding a 'surname' column.  To Anthony's credit he noted the change and proceeded to add his surname.  Unfortunately the box was a bit small and Anthony was unable to fit his name into it.   This small detail was Anthony's last straw.

As a parent facing this issue, I've got two approaches.  Lightening the load and avoiding the last straw.  It seems almost impossible to avoid every scenario that could present the last straw to Anthony. However, we get clues that his load his feeling heavy and when he is having a hard day.  He becomes very sensory seeking, lacks focus and is quick to become emotional.

On these days we can try to maximise routine so he is presented with the expected and try to avoid anything to tasking.  Even with this we can't avoid everything and we don't want to.  So, we make efforts to help him keep him strong, his load light and where possibly discard some of it. 

Anthony can be very concerned about butterflies and moths because their movements are unpredictable and erratic.  Please let's no even talk about bees or wasps. We can't stay inside all spring and summer so instead we have to help Anthony manage and cope with how he feels about them.  He still needs help remembering the strategies we teach him but he copes more often than he used to and as a result has fewer meltdowns. 

I grinned a few days ago when we found a moth near the bathroom window.  Anthony declared to his younger unaware sister, "Don't worry about the moth Jane.  They are like butterflies. They move very fast but they won't hurt you."  Well done, Anthony, that's one less straw today.

Our blog - Our mummification mishaps - autism and dressing up at school
Our blog - Nervous about nearly, as school restarts

External Links
Tiny Tyger, Baby Bear and Me - Interview with an Aspie about diagnosis and meltdowns

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