Celebrate the successes; remember that in between all the challenges, there are tiny miracles: by Hillari Pendergraft
The other day at my 5 year old daughter’s t-ball game, she ran off the baseball field past the lacrosse players and into the bushes at the nearby school. I found a parent to coach for me and ran off to get her. She refused to come out of the bushes. She had a red face (hot or mad, maybe both?). I thought for a moment what to do when the pleading to come out of the bushes wasn’t working. I remembered back to a class I took recently on theories and techniques of counseling. We had a guest speaker who runs an Autism clinic and facilitates ABA therapy. She said “all behavior has a function.” I thought to myself “why did she run from the game?” She was escaping but she had a reason. This allowed me to remain calm. I said “I understand you are done playing the game but the game is almost done and then we can go the park.” I remember advice from another Pcdh19 parent who said "if they do "a", then they can have/do "b". It may sound like bribing, but I am past the point of caring what others think. We do what works. I offered her ice cream and the park after the game. She agreed to come out and come back to the game. It was a tiny miracle. While her seizures are currently controlled, her behaviors remain challenging.
After the game, I thought back to possible triggers to her meltdown. She was probably hungry. Her game was during dinner time. It was warm outside and she had been running and was probably overheated. There is all this open space and she loves to run. She has to share Mommy with the rest of the team since I am the coach and she is not used to having to share my attention. Before each game, we go over the expectations (stay in the game) and the rewards (park) if she stays on the field where I can see her. I give lots of praise when she is participating. There is a park right next to the ball field we can go to afterward and she watches kids you tube on my phone on the way to the car. My phone and her tablet have been lifesavers more times than I can count. It hasn’t been perfect and I won’t be sad when the season is over. But there haven’t been any more instances in the bushes, knock on wood. Thankfully, as they are full of spider webs!
For a long time, I would leave my daughter at home during social activities (with my husband or a babysitter) because it was just too hard to be in public. I am not doing that as much anymore. I am pushing her comfort zone and my own. I’m not going to lie, it’s hard sometimes. Like when we went to Costco and she wanted to get out of the shopping cart and dance to the music but we had to get home (full blown meltdown). There are certain situations (Disney, crowded places, etc) that require “man on man defense” as my brother calls it, and I need another adult to help re-direct her. This brings me to another point, its okay to ask for and accept help. I’ve had complete strangers come to my aid. A few years ago, a lady came up to me at the crowded airport and offered to get me a coffee while my daughter had a meltdown. It was such a kind thing to do and meant so much. Another time my son was having a meltdown at Costco and a lady came up to me to tell me I was doing a great job.
I don’t think I give my daughter enough credit. She is smart, strong willed and she knows what she wants. She is learning and so am I. My advice to parents when your child has a meltdown is to see if you can figure out why and maybe next time it will be easier. Sometimes we don’t know why and we are just guessing. But keep trying and don’t give up. Celebrate the successes; remember that in between all the challenges, there are tiny miracles. Just remember we are doing the best we can. Our kids are warriors and we are too.