From: Happy Aspies
“Hey, Wolfie, I want to tell you a secret.” Hammy said this to Wolfie yesterday afternoon right after Miss. N arrived. Miss. N is our ABA therapist and it was her first day. Wolfie didn’t feel like hearing a secret so I asked Hammy to tell me.
“I don’t want to be violent or disrespectful while Miss. N is at our house,” he said in my ear. Little sweetie. He was remembering the time a few weeks ago that Miss. N came to have a get to know each other play date and things between him and Wolfie went sour. There was some kicking, hitting and a lot of back talk. He was embarrassed about that. I told him I thought that was something he could say out loud and I encouraged Wolfie to listen. Hammy said it and Wolfie agreed with him.
Miss. N said she appreciated that both of them were having such positive attitudes. I’m sure you can guess where the story is going.
Things were going fine until Wolfie earned 8 points and was given the opportunity to pick a choice out of the box. The box is full of special items that the kids will get to choose from when they earn 8 points. Once the playtime with the chosen item is over, it goes back into the box until points are earned again. The items in the box aren’t to be played with outside of when Miss. N is here.
This was explained to the boys several times prior to letting them see the box. Everyone said that they understood the rules.
I bought all the items in the box with both boys in mind. These are things that I knew they would be interested in, but that I didn’t want to give them access to all the time mainly because they are messy or have the potential to get messy or out of hand. In short, adult attention is pretty necessary.
Wolfie chose the fountain pen. He LOVES pens. He loves to make signs and he especially loves to make signs with cool pens. The pen is cool. Miss. N made signs with him and challenged him a little with how he makes the signs. He handled it well and earned a few more points. Then it came time to move on and so the pen had to go back into the box.
This is when things got ugly. I have seen things get ugly like this before, but there was a major difference this time. I had a professional there with me who was supportive and kind. She coached me in how to handle the meltdown and together we got him to calm down. It was hard. And it was heartbreaking. But at the same time, not. It’s weird, I think I have lived with for so long and become used to these meltdowns so much that the sadness has been squeezed out of me and in it’s place is resolve and determination.
I know that Wolfie can learn to control himself. I know he can do it without medicine. I know he can do it because we love him and are committed to helping him no matter what.
I almost think that the absence of my sadness is what makes things work when they do. He had to calm himself down. And after about 20 minutes he did.
I am a firm believer in at home therapy. There is so much good that comes of it. I am involved and learning, as is the rest of the family. This therapy isn’t just for Wolfie. Hammy, Eliot and I will all benefit individually and collectively. I believe that doing this as a family will strengthen us and solidify the relationship that Hammy and Wolfie have with one another.
“I think I have something that will help Wolfie!” Hammy was walking around on his toes with a piece of paper in his hand and a crayon. He looked excited and he was talking with urgency. He felt bad that his brother was having such a hard time and he wanted it to stop. He had written him a note and he wanted to slide it under the door to Wolfie. I told him I wanted to read it first. It said, “You are bad.” Miss. N looked at it and said, “Maybe there is something positive you could say to Wolfie instead.” They decided on something together and he wrote it down.
“I hope you get calm,” the note said. He slid it under the door. There was a brief silence followed by a a request for a pen. Wolfie sent the note back under the door. I turned it over and read his writing. “Thank you, Hammy,” was what it said.
It was one of the sweetest things I have ever witnessed.
It is no secret that life is challenging sometimes in our house. We have shared stories in hopes that it will help another family and we have sought help from our families and close friends who understand. But there is something about having someone who doesn’t know the back story witness what happened yesterday. It made me feel lighter. She has no emotional ties to Wolfie or to me, yet she was empathetic and offered no judgement. She had the ability to see what none of us on the inside can see because we are so attached and so in love with our little boy.
I am glad that the big meltdown happened on the first day of therapy. Maybe now, we can begin to make some headway. I know it isn’t the last big meltdown we’ll ever see, but it is a step in the right direction and that is how you start. Baby steps.