Saturday, October 16, 2010

Meltdowns and a funny meltdown story

I've been reading and thinking a lot about meltdowns lately. T was being evaluated by the county the other day when he had a huge meltdown. The school psychologist wanted me to ignore him. That's not my way. Not that I have solved the Meltdown Problem, for anyone out there who is searching for a solution. But I don't believe in ignoring it.

I mean ... let's think about this for a minute. We have an autistic individual with a severe deficit in the domains of language and communication. He is communicating wants and desires and feelings ... so I should just ignore him?? This is one of the most absurd pieces of advice I have received since my son's diagnosis, in my opinion.

But this is apparently a widely shared view. I got the same piece of advice, I now recall, from some other county employee when he was 20 months old. I thought it was ridiculous then and I am really glad I didn't take it.

As it happens, T is doing GREAT despite his challenges. He makes terrific eye contact, hugs me and has even on occasion been known to tell me he loves me. Well, I can't take all the credit for that, but I personally think that if I had taken these people's ridiculous advice, he would probably want very little to do with me.

Anyhow, the point is that I HAVE been re-thinking this topic lately, and meditating on what causes these things which are so much more than temper tantrums. One thing I think is that T has the ego of an adult. According to this entry from the Eides, it may even be that autistic children wind up with difficulties acquiring language because the prefrontal cortex has matured too early. Apparently, an immature prefrontal cortex may (some people theorize) make it easier to learn some kinds of information. It seems that the prefrontal cortex is where a person develops their will and volition. See this, for example.

And this explains a lot. T's ego is very easily insulted. A lot of little kids get upset when you take their toys away, but for T it's more than the loss of the toy. I can tell that. It's the powerlessness of being at the whim and mercy of someone else that he finds galling and he just can't take it. If he wants something and it's not in the house, he wants to just go to the store and get it. Well, how can I blame him? I would too, but of course he's not old enough to drive. So there is the crux of it.

I'm still not sure what to do with this information, but these musings of the last couple of days made the following story much funnier.

T is very taken these days with a scene from Dora the Explorer in which Benny the Bull carries around an armfull of stuffed animals which he refers to as "my guys." At the dollar store, T grabs all these little Halloween characters and calls them "my guys" (which was very cute and funny), but then naturally he wanted to take them all home. My husband tells him he can only have one and buys him the bat. [insert meltdown here .. ok, the meltdown itself was not that funny.] But in the aftermath:

T (repeatedly): "I want the witch and the ghost and the pumpkin and the bear AND the bat, TOO."

Me: "You can't have everything you want."

T says : "I want to have EVERYTHING I want."

Truer words, never spoken.