Life with Janey involves a lot of detective work. She doesn't give us a lot of clues about why she is feeling the way she feels, or why she does the things she does. She was in a wonderful mood for several weeks, and then Monday she fell part. She falls apart spectacularly, with a day full of screaming and tantrums. I've got a couple theories about why. It was Columbus Day, and there was no school. I think she has a counter in her head, although she doesn't seem to consciously get numbers, but I think she knew it was Day Three of the weekend, and that was just plain wrong. She was supposed to be in school, and she wasn't. I also took her to Kohls to shop for clothes. That is something I have almost never done. I'm not a shopper, and if I do shop, I don't bring her along, but this particular time, the circumstances fell together and I had to. She didn't enjoy it, to say the least. She made her half crying-half laughing sound the whole time we were in the store, she got on the floor several times for screaming fits, she put on her extremely angry face a few times and yelled---it was pure joy, let me tell you. Nothing as fun as lots of people staring at you. I always want to say "Have you NEVER seen a kid with autism or retardation before? There's lots of them out there, you know! Sorry I had to expose you to such horror!" Of course, that's just mean, because most of the people are not trying to be rude, but I wish they'd smile at me, or look away more quickly, or something.
After searching for reasons for the Monday Meltdown, we moved on to Tuesday, with school, and a happy Janey. After school, I took her for ice cream, and while we were walking down the street, all of a sudden she stopped short and curled up in almost a fetal position. I thought she had hurt herself somehow, but then realized the problem was a dog being walked toward us. Tony had mentioned she is scared of dogs now, but it was the first time I'd seen the extent of it. She was TERRIFIED. Terrified to the point she couldn't even cry---she was barely breathing. I talked reassuringly as much as I could "That's a nice doggie. It's not going to hurt us. It's on a leash. It's a sweet doggie!" (which it did seem like). But she didn't relax until the dog was past us. We saw two more dogs on the short walk back and forth to the shop, and both times, the reaction was the same---absolutely frozen terror. I don't know where she got that. She used to LOVE dogs, to an amazing extent. I tried this morning to find a picture I have of her surrounded by four Rhodesian Ridgebacks, which are HUGE dogs, extremely happy just to be with them, when she had just turned 3. I wonder if it's a good sign, almost---her awareness of what's around her is growing, and she is noticing dogs. That might be another piece of evidence to look for when she is upset----a dog outside barking? A dog on TV? Even a dog just mentioned?
I'll say this---Janey keeps my mind active. You can't coast as her mother. You have to be on alert always, figuring her out. I don't think I'll ever get her completely, but I have to keep trying.