This morning, Sweet Girl was upset that I was waking her up for school. This is really nothing new because most mornings, she’s upset to be getting up for school. Same old, same old. Mornings during the school year are just… unpleasant. The transitions from each step to the next step are more intense in the mornings for her, and of course some mornings are worse than others. It’s not easy finding motivations that work consistently.
It’s been better this school year so far (granted we’re only in our third calendar week) than last year due in part to having identified and treated her ADD. She also values riding the bus with her little sister, which is a new thing for them both this year. She doesn’t want Darling Girl to ride alone or be in the school alone, so she gets up, gets dressed, and gets on the bus.
I have to admit, though, that we did discover her biggest motivator yet. Bacon. The odor of bacon is enough to let her know I’m not lying when I tell her I have the best breakfast ever ready for her, and she loves bacon more than almost anything. One of these days I’ll have to put chocolate and bacon side by side and see which one she chooses first.
This morning trying to wake her up for school was different. She sniffed the air, then thought of something silly, chuckled to herself, and smiled. She wanted the bacon so she sat up and let me change her shirt, and suddenly she became serious again and gave me a serious chastisement:
“Why when you wake me up you always make that loud screamy noise? It hurts my ears! You not apposed to make loud screamy noises at me.”
“Honey, that wasn’t me, that was you.”
“No I not. I not screamy. You scream and shout every morning at me when you wake me up. I not like it.”
“G, I promise, it’s not Mommy. You remember how upset you get that Mommy has to wake you up for school? That’s you [making those sounds]. You hurt your own ears.”
::pensive look on her face::
I was just shocked. It gave me a whole new perspective on her level of self-awareness in certain situations.I wonder if that’s why she escalates with meltdowns so quickly sometimes… she’s aggravating herself with her own annoying-to-her sounds and doesn’t realize it’s herself.
I’m always trying to help her expand her bubble of existence and awareness of the world. That would include her awareness about other people and how they feel, how they react to things in the environment, how they react to her. It’s a very difficult concept for her. I just never imagined that in her bubble, at 8 1/2 years old, she wasn’t aware of her own stress responses… only that she was upset. A friend suggested video recording her when it’s time to wake her up so that I can show her later what her response is and show her that it’s in fact herself that’s annoying herself. Wow, what an awkward sentence. 😉 I wonder how she would respond to that. She likes seeing photos of herself, but only when she’s given permission for the photo to have been taken or if she thinks the photo was really flattering.
I really don’t think she would appreciate seeing a video of herself having a meltdown. I would come off looking like a jerk.
I’m not sure how to go ahead with this new insight. I’d like to try to use it to her advantage, but I’m just not sure how. I really wish that Autism came with an instruction manual. I’m learning how to use her Sensory Integration Disorder to our advantage in a positive way that won’t hurt her ie. sense of smell, sense of taste, bacon… so how can I teach her and help her and use this… I-don’t-even-know-what-to-call-it?
A child like Gracie may know rules and safety guidelines and have their own ideals in mind when things are even and steady. The problems occur when there’s a highly emotional situation and their emotions and instincts take over. Suddenly they don’t seem to remember any of the safeguards that were put into place. There’s practice, yes, and that can help, but let’s be honest here.
A tantrum is a tantrum except these aren’t tantrums, they’re autistic meltdowns and something entirely different, so in many ways the safety nets that non-autistic children are able to build for themselves are much stronger and have more stable nails holding them into place. They search for the footholds and welcome the safety net. But kids like Sweet Girl aren’t in that place yet at this age. Some of the nails are strong, but some are still loose and wobbly. And when a couple of the nails pull out of the securing posts, you get hit in the head with them, the net, and flying feet as the person who is trying to build the net is falling and you’re trying to steady them on the sidelines. You just want to teach them to secure those nails back into place.