Another big meltdown

Discussion in 'General Parenting' started by Malika, Feb 6, 2013.

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  1. Malika

    Malika Well-Known Member

    Went to pick J up from the play centre at 5ish to take him to his karate class, which he usually much enjoys. As luck would (not) have it, just before I arrived, the director and her very active son, who is friendly with J, arrived... She had been elsewhere that day and had just arrived with him. J at once started crying and saying he wanted to stay and play. I could have started negotiating I suppose, but last week he had a good karate session and I just had it in mind that we should go. At some point he told me it was because this boy he really likes had arrived. Fast forward... screaming, shouting, kicking, running away, refusing....me keeping calm, not getting upset (except for when I'd almost got him in the car and then he ran off), but it went on for a good 15 minutes, ending with the play centre staff picking him up bodily and putting him in the car.

    At which point he got almost hysterical, grabbing onto the director and not letting her go, shouting and shrieking. I was aware that this was a fight he was determined to "win". But suddenly the violence of all this, of having forced him into the car amidst all this distress and rage, just sickened me. It felt useless, an impossible solution... so I talked to J calmly and asked him whether if I let him stay to play with the boy, he would come calmly. He stopped shrieking, nodded his head and... off they went. I duly picked him up half an hour later and he was happily playing, calmly, with his friend... I talked to the director, who seems much calmer and more centred about J's difference than at first, and she said she was going to ring his psychiatrist tomorrow, as the latter had suggested.

    At home, I talked to J about how he could have used his words to tell me that he wanted to stay because his friend had arrived and we could have done it differently, without all that exhausting suffering and upset. Of course I had also internally reflected on what I could have managed better, in the light of this experience. I think he's overloaded, probably, overstimulated by all day with 20 or so other kids.

    Any insights/thoughts?
     
  2. InsaneCdn

    InsaneCdn Well-Known Member

    I think you're caught between a rock and a hard place on this one.
    We never started the "before/after school care" thing in the first place for a long list of reasons (some just personal preference), but we learned quickly that... we were glad we went that way. Because... 6 hours of school time was already too much. We couldn't even stop and do shopping on the way home from school... even that was too much.

    But. J is already in after-care. And...
    J loves his after-care. Having him come home and just be with you isn't the answer either.
    And yet... yes, he will be some combo of overtired, overstimulated, and starving.
    Add in the fact that he only has a few kids that he can click with - and this last boy seems to be one of them... I kind of know where J is coming from.

    The only one that you might be able to do something about is the "starving".
     
  3. Malika

    Malika Well-Known Member

    Thanks, IC. Yes, it's ALL a rock and a hard place really, isn't it? I didn't want to "give in" to J, demonstrating perhaps to him that such outrageous tantrums get him what he wants, but he was in such excessive distress and fighting so hard that trying to carry him away by force would have just been a hollow victory, exacerbating his inner anger...

    It's not easy!
     
  4. buddy

    buddy New Member

    But he did use his words. (You said).....
    I've been there done that many many times. Easier to see in hindsight.
     
  5. whatamess

    whatamess New Member

    Yes, he did use his words. It is almost as if he is being trained to explode in order to be heard. I believe it because it has been true for my oldest son as well. Goals would be made in order for my J to express himself appropriately. What that actually meant was that my J was expected to comply and keep quiet unless his opinion was asked (and then it would be ok to 'use his words'). I think there is absolutely no shame whatsoever in saying that J has a mind and thoughts and feelings and respecting his perspective isn't giving in, it's respecting him as a person.
     
  6. InsaneCdn

    InsaneCdn Well-Known Member

    It's part of the dilema of a complex kid.
    If you react one way, it works against the ADHD/impulsivity challenge.
    But if you react the other way, it works against attachment.

    Tough balancing act.
     
  7. Malika

    Malika Well-Known Member

    Yes, sure. He does have a mind and thoughts and feelings, and I do respect his perspective. However, does that mean he should give up an activity because of the whim of the moment - I don't mean that pejoratively, but it was a sudden whim because he saw the other boy? That everything is moveable if we don't want it on the spur of the moment, that we just go with the feelings of the moment? I am not judging that feeling of the moment and I don't see clearly the answer right now. But it was also the WAY J communicated with me when I arrived - starting to cry and get angry. If he had said to me, "Mummy can I stay and play with O?", I know that I would have listened. But that may not be developmentally appropriate and it may not be possible for a child with intense emotions and impulsivity problems.
     
  8. Ktllc

    Ktllc New Member

    When talking about V's meltdowns and how to manage it with an Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD) specialist recently, I was ask "What are his coping skills?" I had NO clue! I even asked her to explain the question to me... BAsically: what does he know to do or say when he gets upset, angry? Right now: V has almost no coping skills.
    So my question to you: what are J's coping skills? If any or just emergent. Work on those when he is quiet. Give him concrete examples on what he can do and say to calm himself or seek help to calm himself. You can start we what YOU do to keep yourself calm. It is not a magic bullet or even a quick solution, but it is something that needs to be talked about and worked on. In our case, V can choose between 3 things: ask for a break (go in his room until calmed down), go in his swing or open/close hands as to make a fist. Funny thing: Partner said it is what he does with his hands when V gets on his nerves! lol
    If J needs a minute (or more) to use his new skills or at least tries, promiss him that he will be heard afterwards and don't just move on. You don't want him to feel like using coping skills equals missing out on something. Know what I mean??
    V also knows to come to me when his anxiety is too much. We lock our eyes and he knows that I will talk and try to reassure him. When it is anxiety related, V usually does not go into a meltdown anymore. So I suppose it is an other example of what a coping skill can be.
    Than there is all the prep that can be done ahead of time. In your case, I'm not sure what it would be though... You already do so much and sometimes meltdowns will happen no matter how much prep you do. Have you tried to keep track of his meltdowns? See how many a week or how many a month. It helps put things in perspective, see if it is objectively a lot, or maybe not as much as it used to be.
     
  9. Malika

    Malika Well-Known Member

    Thanks, Ktllc. Those are helpful ideas. I'm a bit thrown with this because it is only the second time J has had a REALLY big meltdown like this, and both times in public, which is totally new. Both times they occurred because (he said) he wanted to play and was being prevented... Both times they occurred at the end of the day, possibly both times when hungry. I have decided that on Fridays I will pick him up straight after school, not leave him in after-care - tomorrow I will lure him with the promise of going into town to buy him a small toy as I have just been paid and haven't bought him a toy for a long time :) - and on Wednesdays I think I will pick him up after lunch from the play centre and we'll spend time together before he goes to his karate class.

    I REALLY want to avoid this becoming some sort of habit. I know J did this because he'd done it a few days earlier, if that makes sense... I am very concerned that he does not start raging to communicate - totally unnecessary and I really do believe he has enough skills to avoid it. Hope I do too :)
     
  10. buddy

    buddy New Member

    I hear you, and in this case can really relate. I think Kttlc is on to a big part of it.

    Should he in the end be able to communicate his desires in a better way? Of course. But at this point he's too impulsive and black/white in his thinking. When he starts ramping up, (again 20/20 hindsight) maybe instead of sticking to the schedule or giving in right away (neither option is ideal) you can work on a time out/take a breath option. You give the signal to let him know you'll listen and work it out.....then help him do the squeeze relax thing with his hands or to blow out the candles (your five or ten fingers held up) and then you discuss options.

    I have to say, esp when q was younger it was so amazing to see him do this. "OK mom see I am calm!" *squeeze relax squeeze relax*

    And to this day I have to make "using his words" a grey area. When going from using physical behaviors to words it's too much to expect polite words esp when they're panicking, excited, upset, etc. And like J, q is actually quite polite when not in that state. I'd always hear from the time he could talk how polite he was (ironic, huh? )

    So at this point, Q is just starting to work on how he says things. But sometimes any words over actions are acceptable. Do I prefer mom, please don't sing in the car over shut up? Well of course. And if he is loaded because of another issue then I just stop singing (we talk later abt it) but if he's just calmer and saying it I may cue his sure, can you ask nicely?

    Hope this makes sense, I wasn't ignoring that he used his words inappropriately ...really. Just having learned the hard way, when I didn't go step by step, his physical reactions imcreased massively. (And in the end I still have days like you do where I have to back track and renegotiate to finally deescalate it, but he absolutely learns then that a fuss like that may work out. Not in a conscious way, it just happens)

    J won't take as long as q to learn but probably does need step by step help in both the coping skills and communication skills. Your job with him is intense. I at least had outsiders who could help me along the way and backed up what we were doing. He's always had little daily sessions at school or in therapy to help him learn these skills. And if q can learn it im confident j can!

    Look up "the five point scale" and "how does your engine run plus other stress management and social learning tools for Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD)/adhd/mental health......
    I think you'll find most under Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD) sites but in every program ive worked in we use these techniques school wide. Every sp ed class and mainstream too. It's gentle and life long skill building.
     
  11. STRESSEDTOMAX

    STRESSEDTOMAX Member

    Hi Malika - This brings me back to when difficult child was in daycare (1-3), which is when the problems first started. EVERYTHING you are saying I can relate to. Most of it did not end with daycare, it continued and still does. There were many times difficult child would run away from me at school, at the community pool,etc. I understand exactly what you are saying about should we just change our plans on a whim of difficult children? I still have this struggle. Almost every time difficult child doesn't get his way, there is a meltdown. The other day in the car, after a horrendous morning with him, he wanted to listen to HIS music in the car and I wasn't willing to have him do that. He started grabbing the steering wheel and gear shift. finally, I let him listen to his music. Unfortunately, right now, that is almost a daily scenario. The thought of a meltdown becoming a "trained" behavior is interesting. I actually believe that is true. But - What's the answer then? for me, when I don't give in, my house gets destroyed. When I give in...I may be reinforcing the idea that the meltdown got him what he wanted. A rock and a Hard place? I feel like I've been there for 8 years.
     
  12. Malika

    Malika Well-Known Member

    StressedtoMax, I can imagine a little of what you go through and how very hard it is. I will be honest with you... I am really hoping and trusting that we do not get to where you are now. J does not have daily meltdowns and since I have been very consciously working on our attachment and our bonding, his behaviour has improved enormously. I so hope this isn't famous last words but he has stopped running off into the village at weekends, for example, is listening much more to what I say. At the same time, I was alarmed by these two huge meltdowns. Usually J stops after about five minutes, doesn't dig in and escalate. rage wildly. This is new behaviour. The first time seemed to arise out of having been punished too harshly at school, and he is continually punished (sent to sit down or stand for a couple of minutes), more than the other kids basically because like so many other places they just don't get it about ADHD and at the moment there is no special programme for him. Here's another rock and a hard place... I know beyond a shadow of doubt an alternative, non-punitive school would be better and freeing for him, and I also know that stability and continuity are VERY good for him.
    Maybe 80 per cent of the time, J is sweet, co-operative, willing to do what I ask and like a "normal" kid. But then we have these big troublespots. It's not like every time I say no to something he has a meltdown, big or small - he doesn't. I don't fully understand what makes this child tick though I am getting better at understanding. Of course I haven't had much skilled professional help...
     
  13. TerryJ2

    TerryJ2 Well-Known Member

    Just sending hugs.
    I could have sworn I wrote a response yesterday but I don't see it. The others here have some good insights.
    You are doing a great job, Malika.
     
  14. STRESSEDTOMAX

    STRESSEDTOMAX Member

    Malika - I hope you don't get to where I am too...lol. Seriously. It's tough.
     
  15. whatamess

    whatamess New Member

    It was explained to me this way: if a child has a desire/need and does not feel this will be heard/acknowledged/met, then the behavior comes out and ramps up. If a child has a trusting relationship where they know their opinion/thoughts will be heard and considered every time, the behavioral ramp up doesn't occur because their words are already doing the job. I had a highly recommended, so very knowledgable autism consultant, recommend that whenever without exception my difficult child asked for a 'break', he was to be given one. So, the goal was for the adults to recognize and reinforce his using words over behavior...every time. And if that meant that he took 30 breaks in one day and didn't escalate- that was SUCCESS! Once the trust was built that his words really could help him get what he needed, then you had a much less stressed and compliant child. So many people think this is manipulation, but it was about feeling safe and trusting. So, it seems J is a bit further in to the immediate ramp up of behavior and really the trust and support of his words need to come first.
     
  16. Malika

    Malika Well-Known Member

    No, I haven't done a good job of explaining. J does NOT usually "immediately ramp up" - for him to do so in this intense way, as he has now done twice, is exceptional. I can't really pass on the blame but I think the second time kicked off his memory of the first time, because it was so similar in circumstance - him being prevented from playing when he wants to do that - and the first time was in the context of him having been punished continually that afternoon at school.
     
  17. InsaneCdn

    InsaneCdn Well-Known Member

    Yes, Malika, but... It's part of that catch-22 that we are in when we have kids with ANY level of attachment challenges. It IS a "trust" issue... on both sides. And it isn't simple to resolve. His "connection" with this particular friend is extremely high on his "value" list right now... maybe even higher than where he places "you" right now. Not that it is any reflection of reality, just the warped thinking of the ADHD mind, complicated significantly by attachment challenges. Which is why there is no single easy "solution"... but there will be little things, done consistently, that will help.
     
  18. whatamess

    whatamess New Member

    Malika, you came with a particular problem about an incident that occured and mentioned this is the second time it has happened in this intense way. While I appreciate your reminder that this isn't his regular way of dealing with problems, it is the problem you posted about and it was distressing enough to you to look for support to maybe figure it out or prevent it from occuring again. Saying this isn't how he usually handles himself sounds like you are now downplaying this most recent problem. I read your posts and from them I can glean a 'big picture' of J and a big picture of you and I based my response to your specific post with that in mind. I think you instinctively know that J is doing the best he can, but the confounding element is the social pressure you feel in relation to 'fixing' any out-of-the-ordinary behavior.
     
  19. Malika

    Malika Well-Known Member

    Yes, I think that's right, IC. At the same time, the theme here seems to be that he wants to play and is being prevented from playing... I can understand why that's important! I really don't have a problem with it per se - it's just timing is all. Does surprise me that J would let it all out in front of others, though... Anyway, I am determined to not let this become a HABIT... Tonight I am picking him up at 4.30, after school, and we are going into town to buy him a stylo-plume (fountain pen) which he has been going on about wanting for ages. One of the girls in his class has one and he is so proud of the compliments that he receives for his neat, elegant handwriting that it seems a good present :)
     
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