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Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Everything magnified by ten

I'm trying to think of a way to describe Janey's behavior this week, and the title of this post is what I came up with.  She's not doing anything she hasn't before, but everything is done in a bigger way---louder screaming, more violent reactions to being told no, more hysterical laughter, bigger acts of destroying things around the house, more night waking----it's like she just decided to kick it all up a notch.  It's been pretty tough, to put it mildly.

It's hard because this is probably the most unstructured week of our year.  No summer school, regular school doesn't start until September 4th (and believe me, that date is circled in red on my calendar), Tony is at work, we are just hanging out.  And I had planned to try very hard to take Janey places, to keep her occupied, but when she is acting the way she has been, I can't do it alone.  Literally.  I can't handle it alone when she runs away from me, when she decides she wants her clothes off, when she starts screaming and lunging to bite me, when she scratches herself until she draws blood---it's not a one person job.  Even taking her in the back yard is getting tougher, as she suddenly gets unhappy there and freaks out, and does the clothes off routine, which she knows means we have to go inside.  I'm starting to wonder if she's using it as a way to tell me she wants to go inside, instead of just saying that, which she can say easily, but what am I supposed to do if she is?  Let her stay outside without clothes?  No.

Yesterday we did get out, by taking William with us.  He is leaving for college on Sunday, and we are piecing together shopping for that.  Janey did fairly well with him there, but that was by means of him whisking her away the minute she got crazy, for escalator rides or quick walks.  And by means of literally grabbing the first 3 towels I saw to buy William.  We then went to ToysRUs, which she enjoys looking around at.  However, she quickly found a toy she took an immense liking to, a hugely overpriced electronic counting Elmo toy.  It has flashing lights and an annoying song---what else could you want?  She has some birthday money, and I had hoped she'd like something else, but she now knows what the checkout counter is for, and pulled me over to it so we could make the gadget ours.  Time used up---about 10 minutes---leaving many hours left in the day to fill.

I made some calls to try to get something started to help all this.  I got a referral done by my pediatrician to get Janey seen at Boston Medical Center, which I am told has a good autism program.  We have an appointment in October for just Tony and me, to do intake.  I also made a sooner appointment for myself with a new rheumatologist, to try to get some health answers so I am better able to handle things.  Tony is going to call Janey's psychiatrist today, to see if we can adjust her medication.  We are doing what we can, but there is honestly not that much that can be done.  There are times when her behavior is such that one's instinct would be to take her to the emergency room.  If it were something physical wrong with her, and she was showing symptoms of the severity of the ones she is showing, I bet I'd get very quick and wonderful care.  But I've read enough accounts of people in desperation taking their melting down autistic kids to the ER to know it's a waste of time.  Which is, of course, a crying shame.

My theory as to why things have gotten worse, besides the unstructured time---Janey is getting closer to puberty, and I know how that affects any girl.  She is rapidly getting stronger, and bigger, and she is frustrated, I am sure, with her limited speech and independence.  During calmer times this summer, she was showing me in many ways she wants a little more freedom from me---the tiny bits she can have, like sometimes walking without holding hands, like being in a different room---she actually said one day "I want privacy"---a concept I was surprised she understood.  But if I let her even go into the bathroom by herself, she wrecks havoc---towels in the toilet, water overflowed, all the toothpaste squeezed out---even as she is getting better at using the toilet on her own.  How do I figure this out?  What can I do?

I think I'm scared of a point arriving when Janey truly starts hurting me.  That is very hard to say.  But she is more often lunging at me with her mouth open, wanting to bite me.  The other day, angry I didn't change her Netflix show quickly enough, she smashed the remote on my wrist, and I feared for a minute it was broken.  What do I do about this?

Lots of questions here, which are of course mostly rhetorical.  There aren't answers.  All I can do is hope that Janey gets through this phase and back to the one she was in previously, when she was a delight and I felt a lot of hope.  I need that hope.


Natalie said...

After reading about some of the behavior you describe, I wonder if anyone has ever talked at length with you about ABA behavioral therapy? I'm a para in special education (working on being a regular teacher!) and have seen therapists in this field work with some students to remediate behaviors. Not all children respond of course, but in those that do, the response is usually dramatic as far as I have seen.

Renee said...

Suzanne, my heart goes out to you. I hope this phase of her doesn't last too long. We can bear the screaming and crying, but to think that our child can hurt another human being accidentally is a scary thought.....but all parents have that thought, it could happen to anyone. Janey is a such a sweet innocent girl, she will grow into a very loving person, I know it. she takes after her Mom.