The past seven days have broken the Boston record for snowfall amounts, by 10 inches. Needless to say, there hasn't been much school---one day out of the last 5. Janey is home again today.
How is it going? Well, not as badly as it might be. Not great, but not terrible. As an old friend said on Facebook, Janey's in a routine now---a no school routine. She gets used to things after a while, and the routine now is to have Mama and Freddy and often Daddy home all day, staying in the house all day or possibly taking a little ride. It's been too cold or too snowy to play outside and enjoy the snow, and even Janey's favorite little walk, to the convenience store near us, is impossible. So she's home.
What have we been doing? Janey has gotten back into videos and TV some, which only another autism mother can truly appreciate as a great thing. It pains me to write that, but it's true. When you have a child who is interested in very little, it can be extremely hard to keep her happy all day when she's stuck inside, and if she gets too upset watching TV to continue---well, that's a big challenge. For a while, anything on screen seemed to after a few minutes upset her, but lately, she's watched a full 30 minute video or TV show a few times.
We've been doing a good deal of reading, too. I love this. I bought some new Mother Goose books (new to me, on Amazon) and Janey has taken to a few of them. She loves Mother Goose, as it's predictable, and I love it, as there are so many versions of pictures for them I don't get bored. We read through a long treasury twice last night, and Janey knows every rhyme by heart.
Tony has been home a lot of the time, and he's done a lot of cooking for Janey. This is one of her biggest joys. He makes her homemade chicken nuggets, "celery" (any kind of greens pan-fried), pesto, homemade salsas, eggs, bacon---pretty much whatever she wants. She loves the whole process.
Of course, there has been some hitting, kicking, biting and so on. We are still struggling hard to figure out just how to handle this. For a while, we were having success with time out in the bathroom. However, Janey has started to like this time out. The other night, she asked to go into the bathroom (not to use the potty, which she isn't doing lately). I was trying to get her to sleep, and said no. So she very deliberately hit me, and then looked at me as if to say "NOW we'll go in the bathroom!" I said "We don't go to time out in the bathroom if that is what you WANT" which I am sure confused her, but I was half asleep and couldn't think of a better thing to say on the spot.
More, we are realizing that Janey's need for predictable responses extends to her aggressive behaviors, although it's hard to know what to do with this knowledge. Last week, Tony, Freddy and I were watching the neverending blizzard coverage on TV. We were all bored of it, but too lethargic to turn it off. Janey went over and turned off the TV. This almost always gets a quick response from us, but none of us said a word, because none of us cared. Janey stood there for a minute, looking at us, and finally said "That was a VERY naughty thing to do!" We had not followed the routine. But how do we use this knowledge? Most of the time, her turning off the TV is NOT something acceptable. We have to let her know that's the case. But if she's doing it even partly just to get a response that's predictable, are we re-enforcing that behavior? Who knows? What can we do?
Hopefully, there will be school tomorrow. And that will be an adjustment for Janey once again. I can't imagine what life feels like for her much of the time. She doesn't understand so much of it. Sometimes there's school. Sometimes there isn't. Sometimes we can walk to get ice cream or go get a Happy Meal. Sometimes we can't. Sometimes turning off the TV is very naughty. Sometimes no-one seems to care. Sometimes everyone is awake and ready to cook, to read, to talk. Sometimes it's dark and nobody wants to do anything. That is life, but it's very hard for Janey to understand. When I keep that in mind, the anger and aggression makes a little more sense, but it doesn't make it any easier to handle.