Apologies in advance for a bit of a "downer" post (it gets more upbeat at the end of you'd like to skip ahead, lol). It was an exhausting weekend (and not really just this weekend) and sometimes writing about it helps me sort things out in my own mind, see patterns that I miss "in the moment," and brainstorm ideas.
Little Bitty has been having more difficulties than usual lately and it's wearing us both out. Part of it has to do with all the disruptions in his schedule. He was doing much better before the break over the holidays, and then before he could adjust to being back in school we had a snow week, and another holiday. A day off for a dentist appt (scheduled six months ago). Then we had two early-release days. And then last week we had to keep him home sick a couple of days. I guess considering all of that, he's actually handling things better than might be expected.
But it's more than the schedule issues (or maybe it's just all interrelated?). He's going overboard with being fixated on things and he's adding new "phobias" too.
Everything must revolve around his favorite numbers: 17 and 7. And his favorite colors: pink primarily, followed closely by red and now green. We had to send our Wii to "Japan" for "repairs" because that's all he wanted to do and he could NOT handle having to turn it off. Ever. It was like watching him go through mega-withdrawal every time we had to leave the house or go to bed (or just wanted to take him outside to play, or heaven forbid, give his brothers a turn to play). NOT cool (and I realize it's not fair to his brothers that the Wii has "disappeared" but they are handling the hiatus admirably).
He is increasingly particular about what he will and will not wear (down to minute details). Getting him dressed every day is a drawn-out, agonizing process of finding whatever is going to be acceptable that day (for every. single. item of clothing). It doesn't help that he is outgrowing some of his favorites and wearing holes in many of the ones that still fit. He obsesses over water and is constantly filling up the sink (bathroom, kitchen, whatever) and wanting to play in the water (yet he fusses about having to take a bath). He loves to make "ponds" in our sinks filled with ducks and other bath toys, which would be ok if he didn't try to fill the sink to the brim and then splash water everywhere (and then let the water out, run it again, repeat repeat repeat). One day I even caught him trying to take a "bird bath" in the sink. You can imagine how well it goes over when we inevitably have to put a stop to his water play in the interest of safety and home preservation.
His fear of fireworks and balloons (he's not afraid of the balloons themselves necessarily, but he's terrified of the prospect of one of them popping) has been joined by strong aversion to other sounds. Yesterday it was the sound of a bouncing ball and nerf guns. He was going nuts and kept running to the window at least once every minute to confirm that he did indeed hear basketball bouncing and nerf battles going on outside. At which point he froze and did his little "shiver." We kept the window closed but I guess he could hear it still (I couldn't but I guess his hearing is better than mine).
Often he doesn't want to leave the house, to go to school, church, or even Chick-fil-A or the park. Last weekend we took the family to the park and Bitty spent the entire time in the car. Dh went with Bearhug and Cuddlebug to ride scooters around the park (yes dh rode too, he borrowed Bitty's scooter, lol). I waited outside the car for a while, thinking he'd warm up to the idea and we'd eventually be able to make our way to the playground, but he never did and I got tired of standing around in the parking lot so I finally got back into the car with him. He seemed really stressed out by the whole thing. I know it's been a colder-than-usual winter but seriously he's going to have to get used to playing outside again!
Like many kids on the spectrum, he seems to hold it together reasonably well at school but then he lets loose with all his frustration and anxiety at home. I totally get that, really I do. Home is his safe place where it is ok to let that stuff out. I also understand the desire to stick to what is familiar and comfortable.
Sigh. Honestly, I have no problem accommodating his "quirks" whenever it is reasonably possible to do so. We all have personal preferences and taking the time to recognize and meet those when we can is one way to show our loved ones that we care about them. We want him to feel the sense of security that comes with sticking to the familiar. On the other hand though, learning to deal with the unexpected, or with disappointment, is an important life skill. So we do "force" compromises on his part sometimes also, and we try to push the boundaries of his "comfort zone" without going overboard, because that's the only way to expand the range of what's in the comfort zone. As with most things, it's a balancing act.
He just seems to be increasingly rigid lately in his willingness to accept alternatives for his preferred items / activities. And it's getting harder and harder to keep up with the growing number of things that find great importance attached to them. Suggestions welcome.
So ok, now that I got that out of my system, I'll move on to something more uplifting.
Just this weekend alone, in the midst of all the stress, we've had two small yet powerful reminders of Heavenly Father's love and I want to share that too.
Yesterday at church, Bitty wasn't up for the children's Sharing Time and kept telling me "Primary iss cwosed. You can't go Primary." (anything he wants no part of is either "closed" or he requests that we "take it back to da store!"). After a rough day prior and more of the same that morning, I wasn't in a mood to argue with him so I took him to get some Scriptures (he loves to look at them, especially the pictures in the back). They put numbers on all the library copies of the Scriptures to help keep track of them. You should have seen his smile when he saw the number on his... #17 :). I took that as a personal "I love you" straight from Heavenly Father to my Bitty.
Another one Saturday, we took the boys out for lunch and had gone out of our way to go to a place that is usually quiet and uncrowded (it's a bit off the beaten path). They have those little machines by the door that you put in 50 cents and get a ball or a gumball or a little play-dollar with Spongebob on it. Bitty wanted the Spongebob dollar but we knew it wouldn't last the day so we steered him to the little bouncy balls instead. Big mistake. The closest thing they had to pink was a red ball, but obviously you don't get to pick, you just have to take whatever comes out.
His was orange.
If you noticed a large mushroom cloud in the distance early Saturday evening, that was Bitty freaking out when he saw the orange ball.
And just our luck, for once the place was crowded. And you couldn't help but notice a little guy screaming at the top of his lungs. "Put it baaaaack!!! NOT DA OOOOOWWWWAAAAANNGGGGEEEE!!!!! DA RRRREEEEEEDDDD OOONNNNEEE!!!!!!!"
Long story short, after several trips to the car (dh and I took turns) to give him time to collect himself, we agreed to let him try one more time.
Knowing that all heck was going to break loose if he got another "wrong" color, but also knowing that he would not be able to stop fixating on the ball and eat if we didn't at least try, we held our breath and waited to see what would come out. I was praying for a miracle and I'm sure dh was too.
It truly felt like a "Hallelujah" moment and I said a little prayer of thanks in my mind. Dh and I looked at each other in relief.
All was right with the world again, at least until a few minutes later when he saw that the toast we ordered had been sliced in half (this particular place usually doesn't cut their toast, so he's used to it being all in one piece). "Iss cwacked! Iss bwoken!!!" The offending toast was about to become a raging projectile, but thankfully one piece had been left intact, so we were able to make a swap and diffuse the situation without anyone being pegged in the head with flying toast. Another sigh of relief from a grateful Mama (and Dada).
Are not five sparrows sold for two farthings, and not one of them is forgotten before God? But even the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Fear not therefore: ye are of more value than many sparrows.
The Lord hath appeared of old unto me, saying, Yea, I have loved thee with an everlasting love: therefore with lovingkindness have I drawn thee.
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