Thursday, February 25, 2016

A Tale of Two Weeks

As we put Janey on the bus this morning, watching her sing and skip her way happily out the door, we shook our heads when thinking of how drastically her behavior can change from one week to the next.

Last week, for about 5 of the days anyway, was incredibly tough.  Janey was screaming almost from morning to night.  Nothing made her happy.  She wanted only to watch videos, and then to frantically change to another video the moment the first one started, and to ask for food and then want a different food the minute we got it.  Even car rides, usually the last resort that always works, didn't always work.  We were in despair.

And then---a transition period leading to back to school.  This week, I've gotten good reports from school every day, and home has been a delight.  Truly, truly a delight.  Janey is all smiles.  We are having a huge amount of fun with her.  She's getting into new music every day, and last night, coming back from a ride with Tony, they were both singing songs and laughing, bonding in a way that had nothing to do with autism and everything to do with just liking the same things.  The few times she's gotten a little upset, one play of her favorite new song (Immigrant Song by Led Zeppelin) has cheered her right up.

Janey's school, not fancy, but a great place
What happened to cause the huge turnaround?  Well, the big one is school.  Janey is far happier with a school routine.  Her teacher, Ms. Erin, is great, as are all the staff members I've met.  Janey is a challenge, even in her autism-only program.  But they meet the challenge and constantly think of new ways to work with her.  And we, having the time she is at school to regroup, do better dealing with her once she gets home.  I think other factors helped Janey move out of her funk, too.  One was me going away, and just having a change of parenting for a bit, and then going on an overnight treat trip to the great inn we were at.  The weather made a difference.  Janey needs to be outdoors as much as possible, running around.  But all that doesn't quite explain the change.

I think a good percentage of what drives Janey to be happy or be sad is something we just don't get.  She might have pains she can't explain to us.  There might be something worrying her that she has no way to tell us.  She might be having a flare-up of OCD type thoughts and needs---that seemed to be showing itself in the subtle ways it does with her last week.  She could be bored.  She could be angry.  She could just be a pre-teen annoyed with having to spend so much time with her parents.  Often, there is just no way to know.

Tony and I talked this morning about how we should approach another tough spell.  There are some things we can do.  One big one is changing things up.  If she's in a terrible stretch, maybe we can somehow go away for a night, or take her on a big day trip somewhere new.  We can, if the weather at all permits, get her to a beach---that seems like therapy to her (and to us)  We can't make school start back up, or help her with issues we don't know are happening, but we can ride it all out, with hope that it won't last forever.  That might be the key.  When you are in the middle of a horrible week, it is hard to see past it, or to remember there was ever better times.  But the bad times, overall, are not as frequent as they once were, and spring is coming.  We'll get through this winter.

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