Family time, decorations, breaks from school and work. Everyone's dream, right?! Not for families of special needs children. Family time means socializing with rarely seen relatives who don't understand. Decorations spell sensory overload. Breaks from school and work indicate interruption of the routine. We had a rather calm Thanksgiving weekend in our home, but it still caused dis-regulation for Will. His exchange sister, Fina, with whom he gets along very well, was home for three days. Because she was, I chose to take just the older two with me to do farm chores on Wednesday and Thursday. This was an interruption in his routine. And, even though he was pleased to have the break, it resulted in some struggles for him. He told me Thursday evening that he had been bored and struggled to find things to do. Boredom is not necessarily bad, but for big thinkers with deep feelings, it allows time to dwell on unpleasant history. Friday, he came with me to the farm to get him back outside and active. But, that also resulted in arguments with Rory. Though our family traditions repeat yearly, they are still an upheaval from the norm. Will struggles with any change. So, though he enjoys putting up our Christmas decor and listening to Christmas music, he is then overstimulated by all the new things. After we decorate, we go shopping. We do not take part in early black Friday shopping because Leigh and I have both worked it and don't want to contribute to the crazy. This year, I took the four older kids in the early evening because Kae was recovering from a stomach bug. To expedite the trip and allow people to enjoy looking at what they wanted to, we split up. I took the boys to look at toys and the girls did their thing. We have an agreement that the kids may take photos of things they see and want. This often abates the tears and demands for new toys right now. Surprisingly, Mack was the one who had a meltdown over the fact that he wasn't getting a new $50 Transformer NOW! Will asked for my phone and went about taking pictures of the Transformers and LEGOs he was interested in. Mack eventually acquiesced to the photos as well. I now have 53 pictures of toys on my phone. I keep the photos and use them when others ask what the kids want for birthdays and Christmas. So far, the holiday festivities weren't too bad for Will. He needed some more time in his room alone and some more hugs, but we hadn't had any large explosions from him. Mack, however, had experienced a few large explosions. He is struggling to stop his body and focus on a new task. So, he ended up having to clean one rabbit cage by himself and help with the other one. He hadn't listened to Will or myself telling him that he was responsible for Ashe's cage with Rory instead of Charlie's. I had him finish Charlie's because he hadn't listened. Then, he had to do Ashe's. The whole ten minute job took almost 30 because of his repeated meltdowns. Will got his explosion turn on Saturday, though. When he is dis-regulated already, his flexibility decreases and his demands increase. His feelings of injustice skyrocket too. We were at a local museum which everyone loves. We were all having a great time, too. Even Fina was loving it. Then, it was turn taking time. All five kids want to do all the things. There are always lines of other kids behind us at museums. The airplane simulator was rather tight and we decided that Mack and Kae, then Rory and Will, then Fina if she wanted could sit in it together. Just for size reasons. Will and Rory both wanted the window seat. Will insisted that he had asked first. I really don't know who did. But, I do know that if I bend to Will every time he makes such a demand, I will do him a disservice. I also know that if I force a sibling to change to prevent Will from having a meltdown, that sibling is going to resent Will. I try to keep a balance. This time, though I knew Will would shut down, I chose not to give him his way. Will didn't enjoy anything else at the museum. He also played his drums before going to bed. He played again this morning. He needed too many hugs to count last night and so far this morning. His brain isn't past the injustice of yesterday and he is unable to be logical in any situation. This is what the holidays do to families like us.
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