Wednesday, August 05, 2009

Asperger’s Unplugged

We've been having several mostly-good days with Princess Grace in a row, with the occasional trigger fit thrown in. Most incidents have been manageable or at least short-lived. We've been lucky. Until today, that is. To be honest I expected a melt-down with lots of triggers much sooner than today, considering it's mid-week. Princess Asperger finished four weeks of transitionary and supplementary kindergarten-to-first-grade summer school this past Friday, which she had every morning. I expected that her routine would be thrown enough that after the busy weekend she had the new at-home routine would shake her up. We intentionally are keeping a loose but predictable routine for her this week and I'm making sure she has all activities she would normally be doing at school.

Since she woke up this morning, it's been Utter Hell Princess Style.

Everything sets her off. One of her big freak-outs today is that she's convinced CONVINCED I TELL YOU that her sisters think her skirt-with-built-in-shorts is really a pair of shorts. It makes her crazy heartbroken. It's Very Important to her that they know it's a skirt. They know it's a skirt. She's not convinced for more than two minutes. She's stuck on the belief that her sisters think she's wearing shorts.

It's unpredictable what will make her giggle or make her have a melt-down. It's unpredictable whether or not she'll obey a polite request, or ignore me, or freak out. It's unpredictable if the water she drips on her skirt will result in screeches of horror or calmness of realization that it will dry. It's unpredictable if that cup of water she filled is for drinking, or for pouring into the Nintendo 64. For the record, it was for filling the (spare) Nintendo 64 (which is now in the garbage). Juliana claims that one was broken anyway, but Mr. His Highness was still holding on to it for reasons unknown, probably thinking it would work in a pinch. The unreliable "good" Nintendo 64 has now been ripped out of the wall and TV and is packed away in the basement.

Simple things are setting her off. Her sisters quietly talking and playing with each other sends her into fits of, "They hate me! They're shouting in my ears and hurting my head!" She keeps coming for sensory stimulation for comfort because everything is upsetting to her. She even asked to go to bed in my room in order to calm down. Her behavior and tendency for triggerful upset today is upsetting on everyone. Anneliese is crabby as anything, and Juliana is more dramatic than usual as well. Grace asked her if she could join and play with her on the Nintendo 64 and the ever-so-polite Princess Juliana's response was, "Will you shut up? I hate you! You had better get your fat, ugly face away from me. I never want to see you again." Then immediately following that, the water in the Nintendo 64 in the most calm and passive manner possible. Oh yes, and Princess Anneliese helped by holding up the game box. So now all three are upstairs in time out with dire threats of being in time out forever.

Okay, fine, I let them come downstairs for lunch. But still.

The entire day has been one big horrible trigger for Princess Grace. I've used distraction techniques, coloring, sensory stimuli, stories, you name it. Nothing is working for more than a few minutes. I'm at my wit's end and it's only 1:39 PM. I can only expect that this will go on for the rest of the day even though she's calm at the moment. I know from history that we can expect at least the next three days to be carbon copies of this one. Time to strap on the foul weather gear and the boots that I wade in shit in.

I know that this isn't her fault. I know that she can't control how she feels, and she has very limited control on her self-control at only 6 ½ years old. Part of her therapies and what we work so hard on with her is giving her coping skills that include self-control and identifying when she needs it and how to accomplish it. The trick is working it in with the rest of the family as well.

UPDATED 4:00 PM: So then the doorbell rings around 1:45. It's my former neighbor and her daughter, who is a year older than Princess Anna and a year younger than Princess Asperger. We'll call her Mariah. Mariah virtually immediately has a calming effect on Grace, so I let my friend drop off her daughter while she goes to her very important doctor's appointment. I tell her to leave her daughter as long as she needs to, the air conditioner is on and the the girls love playing with her. It's been about 2 1/4 hours now and it's been mostly good, with only one relatively minor outburst (compared to the major ones earlier in the day) from Grace as opposed to the previous non-stop outbursts over 2 hours before. I've noticed that Grace is frequently putting herself in short "time outs" away from the other kids in order to detox and self-soothe, which last anywhere from a minute or two up to five minutes. She then goes back in to join in the play or to simply watch them play. This is good, and it's something she wouldn't have been able to do a year ago.

Of course, the stress of Grace's foul moods and the results of the released "situations" the triggers create has rubbed off on Anna who is still quite crabby. It's such a give and take.

Thank God for Advil.

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