Monday, December 21, 2015

I Hate It Here! How To Help Your Child When He Is Melting Down

    The saying, "The grass is always greener on the other side of the fence," can be true for everyone but I honestly think those afflicted with FASD get a double dose of the disorder. I know it is partly due to their inability to understand cause and effect and partly because they struggle to understand their world but even knowing that doesn't make parenting these children easy.
   Mr. Joseph cannot understand rules, thus he hates them with a passion. Unfortunately, rules are a part of everyone's life, especially for the group of people classed as children!
   The other day, he melted down when I told him it was nap time. "I hate naps! I wish there wasn't anything like them, I don't know why you always say I need them cause I am not even tired!!!!!" This is the slightly sanitized version of words that came spewing from his mouth.
   I did the connected parenting thing and acknowledged his dislike of naps, offered him a drink, a snack and offered to tuck him in, but he wasn't buying any of it. I ended up putting him in his bed and letting him scream it out. When he calmed down enough to talk I sat on his bed and tried to help him understand why he needs a nap. When will I learn to save my breath? 
    "I hate it here I am going to find a place that doesn't have rules!" He declared. 
   "I will miss my Joseph but if you want, I will help you pack your clothing," I offered. "Do you want me to pack some food for you?" We have found that calling Joseph's bluff while assuring him that we will miss him usually puts out the blaze. I don't recommend doing this unless your child has a decent attachment and you know he will accept it in the right way.
   Joseph huffed n sighed for a bit then said, "I don't have anywhere to go cause I can't walk far." 
   "Not a problem," I assured him, "I will drive you but I must tell you that wherever you go, there will be rules just like at home. Rules about taking naps, speaking kindly and not running in the house. In fact, if you move, you might have even more rules."
   Joseph didn't like the sound of that at all. "Well I could go live in the woods, there wouldn't be any rules there."
   "True," I agreed, "But what about food, where will you get more when you run out?"
   He thought for awhile and said, "I would live in the woods if Lia would go with me but she won't so I can't!" I had to smile but didn't let him know it, he was backing down and saving his ego at the same time.
   "I have a better idea," I said, "How about you live here and be my Joseph cause I would miss you so much if you lived in the woods."
   He had to agree that I had a good idea but he made sure I understood that he still wasn't going to sleep. "That's okay," I assured him, "As long as you lay quietly and rest." He didn't sleep but he was quiet so I guess we both won! Best of all, he gave me a hug when nap time was over and we were "friends" again, until the next time he didn't understand something then we began the whole thing all over again.

   If you are like me, you get a little or a lot, weary of these and similar issues. For the child with RAD, he honestly wishes for a new family so he wouldn't have to exert all his time and mental energy in to keeping up the wall around his heart.
   If your child has trouble understanding the world around him like Joseph does, the desire to move away probably has more to do with his feeling overwhelmed and misunderstood. Give your child a voice, empathize with them, tell them you are sorry they feel this way but they must do as they are told. 
   Cold water will sometimes turn Joseph around. Be it a cold drink, tossing a few drops of water at him or letting him swim in the pool, water has the ability to pull him out of whatever funk he is stuck in. For that reason alone we wish we had an indoor pool, where he could swim to his hearts content. 
   Sometimes, the child needs the release tears and screaming can bring. I know I tend to feel better after a good cry.
    Exercise is also a good way to help your child feel better, although they have to be willing to participate, something that is usually impossible once they have reached the meltdown stage. If your child is able, have them jump on a trampoline, do jumping jacks or run laps.
   Joseph's therapist has him "push a wall over" to get the deep sensory input he craves. The only trouble was, Joseph watched Dean push over a block wall a few days previously and he was to scared to try for fear the whole building would come down on him! I explained that the wall daddy pushed over was loose blocks, nothing like the strong wall his therapist wanted him to "push over." 
    Sometimes his weighted blanket or chewy beads help calm him, other times he wants nothing to do with them. Wrapping my arms tightly around him is another way for him to experience deep muscle input.
   Every child is different and this time of year will have you pulling out all of your tricks but remember: This is not about you, it is about trauma, brain damage and fear, deep set fear.

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