Janey's crying spell has continued over the past few days. I'm hopeful that this morning seems better---no long screaming spells yet, knock on wood.
The hardest part of the crying, and a part that seems worse lately, is the car crying. The past few car rides, Janey has been screaming. We have a lot of time in the car each day, driving to Janey's school. Depending on traffic, it takes from 20 to 45 minutes to get there. Most of the time, this isn't a bad trip. We listen to music, and Janey generally is happy. But lately, she is not. Sometimes sets her off, and she's OFF---screaming hysterically. It makes it very, very hard to drive. I am not a happy driver under the best circumstances, and when I can't concentrate well---it's a bit scary. I can't comfort Janey while I'm driving. I have to just ignore her, which in her case and I'd guess the case of a lot of kids with autism, neither encourages her crying nor discourages it. It has very little effect on it. It certainly doesn't stop it.
I think it's the music that can set her off, or also the lack of it. I've tried NOT playing music when she seems prone to a bad trip, but she asks for it, either just music in general or a specific song. Lately, it's Jingle Bells. The problem is that she has realized all songs end after a while, and she has figured out when they are close to ending, and that upsets her greatly. She doesn't want a song she likes to be over. She'll get upset the second she realizes the song is ending. So what's the problem, you might ask? Why not play it over and over? Well, she doesn't want to hear it ENDLESSLY. She knows exactly how many times she wants to hear it, and hearing it more times than that can cause screaming also, and the awful state where the song is stuck in her head and she doesn't want it to be, and she sings it over and over in a horrible unbreakable chain. One thing that sometimes works is getting lots of versions of the same song, so she can hear it over and over without the exact repeat. That used to work better, but now she is more discriminating about what genre she wants to hear it in. If it's a little more jazzy than she likes, or a little more blues, that gets the screaming going.
Often, I resort to keeping her eating. It's hard to scream when you are eating. I'll give her chips or popcorn. She doesn't have a weight problem, but I do want to keep it that way, and I don't want her eating chips 24/7, but if it stops the crying long enough to drive, I don't much care what the long term consequences are, as the short term consequences are a fiery car crash due to me not being able to pay attention to the road.
Toys sometimes help a little. I buy big bags of stuffed animals at my favorite thrift store, and hand her one at the beginning of many drives. She usually half ruins it while we drive, tearing it to pieces, but it keeps her happy.
On the really bad days, though, nothing works. The crying and screaming has a life of its own. It builds on itself, feeds on itself. I get to the school or get home drained, completely tired, out of patience. I don't have a solution.