Thursday, September 27, 2012
This has been one of the most challenging months we have had with Luke. So the fact that the transition to having Cole in the family is going so well, again, is a huge blessing. Why has this month been so challenging? As I may have mentioned in past posts, in July we moved to a temporary townhome after selling our house, 3 weeks ago we moved to a new house, and the next day we had to turn in Drew's company car and get another car, and then 2 weeks ago we had baby Cole. The car may not seem like a big deal, but to Luke it is huge. He gets very attached to cars and does not like change. One big characteristic of the Autism spectrum is often rigidity and an extreme aversion to change. Luke definitely falls into this category and is probably his biggest struggle. He is extremely bright also and remembers everything, so every little change does not go unnoticed ever. One way that Luke has responded to these changes has definitely been OCD behaviors such as hoarding, categorizing, increased stemming behaviors, and rigidity in daily functions. In doing certain things throughout his day, it has to be done in a particular order and the end result has to match up with the picture he has of it in his head. This can often be difficult for parents when we do not know what that picture in his head looks like and he is not aware that we do not know. The hoarding has come in many ways. He has even recently collected all of baby Cole's little toys into a certain place and order and has the idea that he is keeping them safe for baby Cole. He has also done this with Lydia's things.
In the new house, he has to be aware of everything that takes place. For example, when I was putting his curtains up he was not present, and when he realized that I had done it without him, there was a huge meltdown. The anxious kind.
Yes, there has also been an increase in the anxiety meltdowns that are reminiscent of a year or so ago. The only way I can describe this is it is like an "out of body experience" for him. He is not Luke during those times and he has no control (probably the lack of control is what sends him into these). There is nothing that can be said or done in those moments that will console him. Most of the time, he has to just tire himself out. The scary moments have been in the past month where he either tries to hurt himself or hurt anyone in his line of sight. He gets angry with himself for being angry also. He hates that he loses control and he has the awareness that it happened. Our dilemma over the past month with all the changes is how do we protect him? How do we teach him how to cope? How do we reach him during these times? As a therapist I have heard these stories from parents over and over. I have experienced them with my son as well. And now that he is older, it multiplies the emotional and physical toll by 100 percent. There is no easy answer on how to respond.
As much as possible we have tried to prepare him for the changes (through picture schedules, repetition, visits, etc..), have transitional objects that he can be excited about, and give him lots of verbal assurance and quality time. But even with as much preparation as we have done, change is still CHANGE and he hates it. That fact will probably never change. But our hope as parents to Luke, is that we can teach him, support him, and accept him for who he is with the hope that he will learn to be able to adapt successfully to changes that come his way in life because they are inevitable. That is my prayer for him. That is my desire. The hardest thing in the world for me as his mother is to see him suffer, to see him so uncomfortable in life at times, and to see him fight against the natural occurences that can bring him joy if he is able to cope with his anxiety. So the title of this post is Transition. This has been our life over the past month, and with it has come a lot of struggles. I see him settling into life a little bit more each day. That is my hope for him, to be HAPPY!!
How have your experiences been with transition in your family?
How have you helped your child overcome anxiety in transition and change?