Life, Autism, Disability, and More

Tag Archives: meltdown

colored tearsThis is probably the hardest blog – or anything else – that I’ve written.

Yesterday, Simon hit a limit. It wasn’t something that would bother most people.

Yesterday, Simon had to wait to go out to dinner. He’s bad at waiting. Very, very bad at waiting.

Yesterday, Simon melted down. He melted down hard.

He hit a point of no return, and he couldn’t stop himself. None of the usual things worked; he would not be distracted, he would not calm down.

Instead, he lashed out. At Patrick.

He attacked him as hard as he could attack.

He scratched. He pinched. He dug in his nails.

Patrick tried to restrain him, but each time he released Simon’s hands, Simon went for him.

Simon seemed to relax a little, said he wanted a big hug.

Went in for a hug, changed his mind half-way and began pinching Patrick’s stomach and sides.

Patrick tried to get out of the way, multiple times.

It didn’t work.

Finally, Patrick was able to sit and lean back far enough that Simon couldn’t reach him.

I got in the way, Patrick got out of the room, and since Simon has never scratched or pinched me, I hoped it would work out okay.

I turned out all the lights, got him to calm a bit, sat down and wrote out sentences about what was going on and what was happening.

After we’d finished a full page of sentences, he had calmed down to just crying.

Patrick had gouges up and down his arms. Slices in his skin, bleeding. The worst ones were on his hands where there were flaps of skin.

When Patrick came back into the living room, Simon was calm enough to apologize.

Simon was calm enough to go to the bathroom, to put on his flip-flops, to go to the car, to go to the restaurant.

Simon was calm enough to eat. To drink his orange juice. To come back home. To go to bed.

And everything was normal again. Like it never happened.

Except, of course, it did. And it might happen again.

School started on Monday!

Simon has been happy to be back on a schedule, and every day, he comes home and tells me that he’s going back to school, and I remind him that he won’t go back until the next morning.

Monday was good.

Tuesday was good.

Wednesday. Well. Wednesday was.

He got home, and everything seemed to be running smoothly, but then for no reason I could tell, something changed, and he began getting upset. He wanted dad home. He wanted dad home now, and nothing I could say would make it better.

Okay, I thought. Let’s try to go for distraction. (Seriously, sometimes I think that distraction is my best friend, although when it comes to ADHD, it’s my worst enemy.)

“Do you want to go run errands?” I asked him.

Errands? Shopping?

Oh, yeah, he was all in.

We went to the thrift store across the way.

And he was not all in. Not even close to partway in. He didn’t even have a toe dipped in there.

Instead, as we walked into the store, he began demanding dad. Loudly. Repeatedly.

He got more upset the longer we were there. I tried to get him to hold off, asked him if he still wanted to go anywhere else, told him that dad would be home when we got home. No dice.

He screamed more. He cried, tears streaming down his face.

Time to leave.

We got to the counter.

We had to wait.

Simon really, really, really did not want to wait.

He escalated in decibels, and he added in this little shrieking thing he does.

Now, I’m going to go back a bit.

When we were on vacation, I managed to pick up a cold. It didn’t really hit until the last day, but since it has hit, I’ve been congested and coughing, and I’ve had a sinus headache every day. It normally starts out hurting, and by about lunch time, it has gotten worse, and by dinner time, it’s turned into a migraine. What I’m trying to say is that the noise was bad for the people in the store, but I’m going to say it was slightly worse for me. I couldn’t go to another area of the store and ignore it, and I couldn’t stop it.

I tried to calm him down, like I had been doing. I gave him pressure and hugs, I rubbed his back, and I told him he was doing good at calming down (even though he wasn’t – but for some reason, telling him that he is doing it seems to make him do it sometimes).

He began slamming his hands down on the counter, shrieking.

I pulled his hands back, told him not to do it, and listened to him getting louder.

I considered leaving, but I had two things I really wanted, and I was seconds away from getting rung up.

No one said anything to me, but when I looked around, I saw the stares. Shockingly, people were not enjoying his meltdown. I had to balance what I wanted versus if I thought I was driving other people insane. It was a public place, I reasoned. And if I can’t get him used to going to public places and stopping a meltdown, then what will happen when I *have* to go somewhere and he’s having a meltdown?

I was going to try to wait it out.

I managed to pay with him only breaking free once more from a hug to slam his hands down on the counter. Then we were outta there.

I sent out a quick tweet, which showed up on my FB page, and I got a “sorry” and a frowny face.

I wanted to explain my tweet. And any of my other tweets when I say Simon is having a bad day or a meltdown or whatever else is going on that he (and I) aren’t enjoying.

I don’t mean the tweets to get replies of sympathy. I don’t want people to apologize for Simon – and me – having a bad day.

I’m really just trying to get out there and say, “Hey, this happens. Next time you’re at the store, don’t stare, even if you want to. Next time you’re at the store, realize that you aren’t enjoying the yelling, but neither is the kid – or adult – doing it. Neither is/are the parent/parents who are trying to help the person having the meltdown. Next time you’re at the store, have some empathy, not just sympathy. Next time you’re at the store, be aware why the other person is there, and why you might have to put up with something you find unpleasant. And, next time you’re at the store, if you hear/see this happening, why not run over to the person with a Starbucks gift card…”

april 22Except this blog doesn’t really have anything to do with Earth Day, except for this first paragraph.

Simon was excited about Earth Day. He told me last night that it would be Earth Day tomorrow and that he was going to pick flowers. And apparently he did, as is evidenced in the awesome photo. He brought it home with him, and I’m not sure how/when they did it at school, but he brought it home, and it’s super pretty, I think. I’m framing it up and keeping it because it’s awesome.

That said, beyond that, this blog isn’t about Earth Day.

This is about what happens when things get cancelled at the last minute.

Today is Wednesday – the day that Simon normally goes horseback riding. He got home from school, we bundled him up in the car with a quick snack and some juice, and then we went to Sonic before horseback riding. (He is in a much better mood if he has dinner before he goes riding.)

It’s a long drive out there. About an hour if we’re lucky, an hour and a half if we’re not, and that’s when we’re using the tollway, which cuts down on time but costs extra. But it’s worth it.

Except that today, as we were eating our dinner at Sonic, my cell phone rang. I didn’t answer – it was a local number I didn’t recognize, and I don’t normally answer calls when I don’t know who it is.

Luckily, I checked it before we left Sonic.

It was SIRE, calling to let us know that because of some serious storms in area – storms that were producing hail and 70 mph winds – the lesson tonight would be cancelled.

She suggested we stay home and avoid the weather.

She obviously didn’t realize that we were about five minutes away.

So….how to handle the situation?

Simon is not good with change.

Simon is not good with it when something he wants is suddenly not his anymore.

Simon was really, really looking forward to seeing Kansas.

We went to SIRE. We let him use the bathroom, we showed him that it was starting to rain, and we were going to talk to the people there, but they were off, taking care of the horses. Instead, we explained to him, repeatedly, that the horses would be scared by the storms, and so there wouldn’t be a lesson tonight. We asked him if he wanted the horses to be scared, and he said no.

Then we left.

And he cried. He got upset. He was not a happy camper by any stretch of anyone’s imagination.

I told him it was okay to cry. It was okay to be upset. But he needed to get over it.

We took him “shopping” at some of the big box stores down the road. We wandered around, letting him get something for the drive and also giving ourselves a bit of a break before hitting rush hour traffic on the way home.

And next week, hopefully there will be horseback riding.

april 16Two days of updates in one day!

Let’s start with yesterday.

It was horseback riding time. And since SIRE will be part of a jousting event, his teacher decided to go ahead and have a jousting class. Because, you know, kids with swords on horses…what could possibly go wrong?

Okay, to be fair, nothing did. They were foam swords, and the kids got to remove rings with them and knock rings down and ride around and wave them. (The rules included not hitting the horses and not hitting their side riders. Pretty fair rules.)

Simon had a ball.

We were both exhausted. It’s about an hour drive each way, often more because of traffic. And it has been a long, long, long, long week.

But Simon loves it. He thinks it’s cool. He can tell you the name of his horse (Kansa) and what makes him walk (walk on) and what makes him trot (trot).

So we’ll be enrolling him in the summer classes. And in the fall classes. And in the spring classes next year, too. Because, well, it’s horses!

And then I crashed and burned after his lesson because my head was pounding, and when we stopped for dinner at Cracker Barrel, I foolishly sat where the sun could get at me. It speared my eye on and off for the whole meal, which is what brought the headache to full migraine status. Hence yesterday’s blog.

Now, today, he got off the bus, and the bus driver motioned to me.

Apparently, there had been a kid on the bus who had gotten upset over something – not specified by her – and the kid had been whining and crying and making noise at a really high pitch. The noises had been bothering Simon, and so she wanted me to know, in case he had a bad afternoon once he was home.

Well, he didn’t seem to be bothered by the kid on the bus. But he did read the flyer that came home from school, the one that said that there was a parent support meeting tonight.

“We go to the dance,” he told me.


“We go to the dance,” he told me, pointing to the flyer he read.

“It’s not a dance,” I pointed to it. “See? Parent Meeting.”


I think you get the picture. I’m really not sure why he decided that the flyer was for a dance. He kindly pointed my finger to the “Dickinson High School” and made me read it for him so that he could repeat it multiple times.

I finally got his mini-fit calmed down by sitting on the couch with him and by reassuring him that when there was a dance, we would let him know, and, yes, he could go to school tomorrow.

(And the parent meeting tonight was also good and successful, although a bit poorly attended, possibly due to all the lovely weather rumbling through tonight.)

april 8Simon had a bad morning. Which seems fair because I had a bad morning, too. I seem to have picked up the stomach flu that’s going around, and I woke up with a serious headache, severe nausea, a stuffed-up nose, and a sore throat. Fun!

But still more fun than Simon had.

Apparently, starting at about 8 a.m., he began throwing a fit at school, demanding that his teacher call us because we would “take him to the zoo.” He told her to “call mom and dad” and that “mom will take you to zoo” and “dad will take you to the zoo.”

Uh. No. Nope. There had been no zoo discussions. No mentions of the zoo. No idea where the zoo concept came from.

But the argument about the zoo lasted.

I was still asleep and trying to feel better when the teacher tried to call me, so I didn’t hear my phone, but she called Patrick next, and he answered. Then he had to get on the phone and explain to Simon that no, no, we were not going to pick him up from school, and he was not going to the zoo.

That phone call happened at 9:30.

An hour and a half after Simon started wanting to go to the zoo.

At 10:15, he finally calmed down.

Let that sink in. It was over two hours of Simon freaking out because he got it into his head that we were going to take him to the zoo.


Just wow.

His teacher sent home an ABC page. (For those not in the know, ABC = Antecedent, Behavior, and Consequence. In other words, what happened to cause the behavior, what behavior was it, and then what happened because of his behavior.) The page goes into great detail about everything she tried to calm him down. It includes instructions, prompts, redirection, social stories, counting, alternative behavior techniques, squeezing a ball, and breathing. That’s a lot to do, especially when you consider that he was screaming at her and then getting physically aggressive with her, including scratching and pinching her.

It spanned going from the cafeteria to the classroom to his independent work time to group work time to quiet time to independent computer work.

Again, wow.

Just wow.

And this is why we all need to be appreciative to special education teachers. Because this is what they deal with. This is what their days are like. This is what they are trying to help with.

At the same time, I also wanted to point out that while the teacher wasn’t enjoying herself, neither was Simon. That had to be a truly stressful time for him. He spent over two hours completely wound up. He couldn’t calm himself down, and he couldn’t get anyone else to do it, either.

Imagine, if you can, what it would be like to spend two hours completely freaking out. You are trying to get a message to someone, but you can’t. You are trying to get something you need, but you can’t. You are stuck, unable to communicate, unable to calm down.

He was better after that. He found a way to calm down, he had a good afternoon, and then he fell asleep on the school bus coming home. He got to go horseback riding at SIRE, and then, when he got home, he went to sleep.

But not before mentioning that he was going to “have fun” tomorrow “at the zoo.”

I told him that there would be no zoo tomorrow – he could go to the library, though, which he agreed would be a good replacement. I am thinking, though, that Sunday might be a day at the zoo now…