Autism. Calming down
A couple of times this week Bright Eyes has been able to reflect back on his own internal status and be a little bit self-regulating.
First off, I've been putting him in his room to calm down with books at the very first sign of the angry attacks that he was previously inflicting on his brother. I put him in protesting, he gets calm and then he comes out when he's ready. I've asked him each time, "How do you feel now?" Twice I've had the answer, "A bit calm". Once I've had "Still angry" so I've popped him back in his room again.
Monday morning is our grocery shopping day, so I took the boys on the 25 minute drive to Nowra. At the shops, Bright Eyes threw a wobbly as big as he has ever done. He wouldn't get out of the car, in fact, he wouldn't even let me open the door or take off his seatbelt. It took 7 to 8 minutes of useless negotiation before I used all my muscles and yanked him out and plonked him in a trolley. (I did notice strange looks from passersby, but I'm used to that by now.)
He yelled all the way in, but then calmed down and we had a good shop. At the end he even helped me unload the trolley. On our way home in the car I said, "You felt really angry when we got to the shops. But then when we were inside, it was different. How did you feel?" Him: "A bit calmer."
The same thing happened again today. This time he yelled and screamed and tantrumed halfway up the mountain drive to the Highlands because (and I quote, loudly) "It's not time to leave Kangaroo Valley. It IS NOT TIME for Brain Gym. I will not go. Mum, stop the car and do a U-turn. Do not keep driving. You cannot keep driving. I am not going. It is not time for Mittagong."
I managed to talk him down by about the 20 minute mark and by the time we got to Brain Gym, he had a fantastic time and was really happy. (Of course, then it was, "I'm not ready to go home. We are not going yet. I am not coming....etc")
So tonight we did the reflection thing all over again. "You felt cranky. Then we got there and you felt happy. Next time if you feel happy, maybe you can remember that it's not so bad."
It's a tiny step, but I hope he'll get there.