These last few weeks have been so amazing and just a crap show. Our little guy has started daycare this past week, and it has been a dream. The educators and facility are amazing, it is one of the big reasons why we moved back to Winnipeg. His first day I planned on picking him up after a couple hours because I didn't want to overwhelm him and get overstimulated.....when I went to get him HE DIDN'T WANT TO LEAVE! He had a meltdown cause I was trying to get him to come home! So I followed his lead and he stayed for the rest of the day....then he didn't want to go home at pick up time! If this is my biggest problem then I will take it! He ended up doing just about full days all week...this momma loved her quiet time.
BUT for the past few months before he went to daycare his behaviours were getting to be beyond what we felt we could handle. The lack of real structure in his day was really starting to impact him, no matter what sort of routine I tried. But as the summer went on it got tough and so I began to not take him on outings as much. The sparatic work schedule of my husband compounded this lack of structure and we began to notice how he was getting more difficult to handle when we were together as a family. But when it was just Joshua and I or just Daddy and Joshua he was calm, happy, played, and quite frankly fun to be with. These challenging days began to trickle into the one routine that was easy for us surprisingly, bedtime. We had a great routine, diaper change, milk, book, cuddle, bed. No problems for months and months. But as the summer went on, bedtime began to get challenging, where a couple nights a week it would take a little longer to get him to bed after a meltdown. And we noticed this was happening when both Daddy and I were around for bedtime, and he refuses to let just one of us put him to bed. So we forged on and did our best to handle the meltdowns that were occurring regularly now. And these meltdowns were now creating situations where he was screaming and hitting his limbs on the crib walls because as usual we can't hold him, talk, or look at him during these moments. The typical strategies of staying in the room, staying calm, and waiting it out were not working as well. Bedtime was becoming an hour long emotionally, mentally, and physically draining experience.
Everything peaked with an all time craziness high this past week, and yes we know he started daycare, but it didn't seem to be affecting him. Every night bedtime was a shit show, pardon my language but I cannot think of another way to describe it. Daddy and I were both home for most of the week and those nights ended in all of us screaming and in tears, and me sobbing. I felt that our family couldn't be together because when we were, Joshua just couldn't seem to handle it. When it was just him and one parent, he was fine. I felt like my son was going to resent me later in life because of how I was handling the situation and getting so mad after using every strategy in the book to not get to that point. I gave 10,5, 2 min reminders leading up the bedtime, I gave choices, used I messages, I walked away, I sat there calmly while he screamed, I followed his lead...none of this worked. I began to feel that the only way to get him to bed was for one parent to leave the house before bedtime, because these times he would go through he routine just fine. But this thought seemed crazy to me because of what I felt bedtime "SHOULD" look like. We tried for two more nights and my breaking point was Thursday night and bedtime ended in both my husband and I physically restraining our child trying to get him to stop kicking and hitting us. He had screamed so much and was so terrified that once he finally stopped and cuddled with Daddy he was shaking. I was sobbing in the rocking chair, wondering what had just happened. How did we get to this? How do I make it stop? It felt like I had just gone through a traumatic event and once we got out of the room and our son was peacefully asleep, my husband and I sat on the couch in silence trying to comprehend what had just happened and where to go from there. I decided that what bedtime "SHOULD" look like wasn't working and to try what works for us "RIGHT NOW" was the only option. So the next night I left the home at about 40 min before bedtime, and when I returned home just after 8, my husband greeted me at the door saying everything went great. No problems. We did this again last night and I stayed home while my husband went for a walk and bedtime was a smooth 20 min, not one tear, not one problem. I got to enjoy cuddling and reading to my child, and sing lullabies. And he went to sleep peacefully, feeling safe, loved, and happy. I think I have finally got it in my head that I need to stop resisting my own thoughts about what "SHOULD" be happening and do WHAT WORKS FOR OUR FAMILY. And if this is what works for us for the next week, 6 months or year this is what we will do. Listening to his behaviours is still an continual learning curve for us, and getting out of the "normal" box or "should" box is an internal battle I think anyone would have a hard time with.
I need to give credit where credit is due, and these self-reflections and learning to accept our current needs and strategies as a family came from me reading the book, Differently Wired; Raising an Exceptional Child in a Conventional World by Deborah Reber. I cannot recommend this book enough to any parent raising a Differently Wired child. I am reading the book slowly to digest all the important knowledge in each TiLT section. To self-reflect and soak it in, and implement the strategies to better our family. Feel free to check out her amazing Podcast, TiLT Parenting. I listen to it regularly.
I am a mom to an amazing young son who was diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder at the age of 2.5 years old. This blog is about the journey we have travelled as a family to discover how our son communicates and to be a happy child in a world that doesn't quite feel right to him. I am an Early Childhood Educator and I use my passion of play and individual needs to support our son to live a joyous and happy life.