First grade, frequent tears and frustration

posted by Jeff | Thursday, August 11, 2016, 9:32 PM | comments: 0

We met Simon's new teacher today, and our initial impression is good. We kind of warned her that we're having some issues with him lately, and I'm crossing my fingers that she'll be able to help.

This has been a rough summer, filled with what feels like developmental regression. I don't even know if that's a thing, but the kid who ended kindergarten in an academically great place has fallen apart in other ways, and pushed us to the point of not really knowing what to do.

The first challenge is that his inability to adapt, in a wide range of situations, has gotten a lot worse. When something doesn't go as expected, a serious meltdown can come very fast. I think I've been incorrectly chalking this up to a lack of patience, but if I put my ASD hat on I'm pretty sure it's an inability to reconcile the actual versus desired outcome, and connect the cause and effect (not to mention the ranking of how important the thing is relative to other things). For example, today he ripped the top off of one of those yogurt tubes, and it came off at an angle, instead of straight across, and didn't easily come off. This led to an almost immediate meltdown, the inconsolable kind that has to work itself out and is not intended to seek comfort or help (that is, the difference between a "meltdown" and a "tantrum"). These have become more frequent, often because a toy isn't performing as desired, he can't easily manipulate his food, Netflix is down, etc. It happens so quick that often it's not even possible to understand what happened because he's too upset to verbalize anything. In fact, expressive language has become a struggle for him. It's so hard to see these visceral and intense reactions from him, when frankly they don't make a lot of sense in a neurotypical way, and as a parent it's hard to be rational when you see what appears to be genuine suffering by your kid.

This seemingly involuntary reaction to adversity seems to have inspired similar voluntary reactions to not getting his way. For example, he wants something other than what he gets for dinner, or isn't happy with a TV prohibition. These come with tantrums, not meltdowns, and they're clearly designed to prompt a reaction from us. I think this we've brought on ourselves a bit by not following through with consequences, but we've made some course corrections and I think he's starting to see we mean business. This scenario doesn't make me feel incapable as a parent. It will take time, but this we can fix.

The other challenge is that Simon's sensory issues have kicked into high gear, especially in the last month. He's become physically rough with us, and I'm not joking when I say we keep getting hurt. His "chin thing" has come back, too, where he will press his chin into whatever body part he can to get the resistance that his body seems to want. Some of this is certainly being holed up in the house for long periods, when it's raining or we just don't have time to get out with him, but it's present even on days when he had tennis camp or other activities. My hope is that this will get better just with the routine and activity of school, but my worry is that this manifests itself in ways that clearly violate the personal space of others, which we know adversely affects him socially.

The arrival of the school year is welcome, that's for sure. I'm concerned it's going to be a challenging year, but there's relief in the idea that professionals will again have an impact on him. We've had help since the time he was 1, and it has made a huge difference. I'm cautiously optimistic, because I don't know what else to be for Simon.


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