trying to help defeat the witch

One of my best friends is a fantastic dream interpreter.  Through her analysis, she has taught me to look for some deeper meaning into some of our subconscious dream induced thoughts.  I do think it is helpful to reflect upon those dreams that stick with you. Sometimes I don’t even know I am anxious about something until I have a string of anxiety dreams. Reflecting on those in my waking hours can help me to identify and deal with those sources of anxiety.

I always ask my kids when they wake up, “did you have sweet dreams?”  It is really just a informal welcome back to the world of being awake and much less of an inquiry.  Recently, M has been telling me about the dreams that he remembers upon waking.  Recently he told me he had a dream that he and “Bubbie” went on a date.  Bubbie is his beloved blanket, the two of them are practically inseparable.  He is the object that we did a 45 minute detour to pick up on a recent trip out of town because I don’t know what M would do without Bubbie to snuggle with at night. I don’t think he really understands what a date is but I think a “Bubbie date” is pretty darn cute and it represents the magic and innocence of childhood in a way that I absolutely don’t want to forget.

Over the weekend, when I asked him about his dreams, he said, ‘I had a dream that I was in my room fighting an evil witch, and you came in my room and told me to “calm my body.”‘ Oy.  That one threw me for a loop.  The way in which he recounted the dream communicated how unhelpful it was for me to come in while he was defeating forces of evil and tell him to calm his body.   Evil witches have been a fear thing for both kiddos since this past Halloween. The Disney witches have only added to this image M has of witches being a sly enemy.  It is not surprising that he had a bad dream about a witch. It was however, very insightful for me to know how unhelpful it is to him when I tell him to calm his body.  Even his subconscious knows that telling someone to be calm, when they are already trying to fight off the bad feelings of dysregulation, is USELESS.  When M starts to get dysregulated, it is like a reflex for me to tell him “YOU need to calm your body.”

Thankfully, this dream stuck with him and now it has stuck with me.  Next time I start telling him to “calm his body,”  I am going to stop myself and instead of talking, I will  fight the witch with him.  We know lots of calming techniques  and none of those involve telling him to calm down.

Here’s a great source of calming techniques aimed at the preschool age crowd if you are searching: http://connectability.ca/2010/09/23/calming-strategies-to-use-with-children/

 

 

 

 

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Trying out T-Ball

One of the attributes of kids with FASD is that they struggle with learning from (unnatural) consequences.  Time-outs and loss of privileges don’t tend to change behavior. This is because most of the time, kids with FASD aren’t in control of the behavior the parent/educator is trying to change (impulse control issues, sensory processing issues, etc.).  But what can be said about the neurotypical parent of the FASD kid who can’t learn from her mistakes?!  Because we are signing M up for T-Ball! After being kicked out of gymnastics and dance because he couldn’t handle it, I am going to send him to try yet another sport/extracurricular activity (C’mon, ma, haven’t you learned your lesson yet?). See this post and this one for more details.

Here’s the thing, the kid loves baseball.  Neither G or I likes the sport at all.  It must be in his genes somewhere because it is not something he learned at home. I actually have horrid memories of spending hours and hours of my childhood bored to tears while my brothers played and practiced. The only good thing I remember about little league was the candy and sno-cones at the concession stand. I, myself, am not even a smidge athletically inclined so I never played.  I still can’t catch a ball baseball-sized because of my lack of depth perception.  Despite my dislike of little league, I do like to support M’s interests.

We drive by Dodgers stadium almost everyday, usually twice a day. The shortcut to preschool goes right past the gates.  M talks quite a bit about someday being a Dodger.  He even has a cheer that he has written for his future fans to yell while he is at bat. M and M2 will chant the cheer as we drive past the stadium and I love the hope in this future dream.   We have a tee and bats and balls at home that we play and practice with often.

I know my boy pretty well and I already know where he will struggle.  He most likely will do a good job waiting his turn to bat and also will do a good job playing the field.   He has a good attention span and as long as the other kids are doing a good job waiting their turn, he will follow the lead of his peers.   Here’s the part that makes me nervous, can M handle being tagged “out”?  Probably not, if we don’t prepare him. I can already see the scenario in my head.  M as an angry boy refusing the “out”, probably kicking and hitting those in his way and then running away refusing to ever step foot on a field again. Our original plan was to role play getting tagged out and practice going through the actions of how we act when we get tagged out.  AND we would do this over and over and over again.   We asked M2’s therapist about this, he is an expert in preschool FASD techniques. He suggested that before we even try to practice, he needs to understand the rules of baseball.  He also suggested that we get some books to prepare him for what to expect in the game.  I went to Amazon and picked these out:

Froggy Plays T-ball

The Berenstain Bears Play T-Ball

The Littlest Leaguer

So here’s our plan:

  1.  Start reading the books at home. Paying particular attention to the parts of the game that might be hard for him.
  2. Watch some T-Ball videos on YouTube so that he can see what kids are supposed to do when they get tagged out.
  3. Practice in the park as a family, giving him a script to use when he gets tagged out.  (First we will model the behavior.)
  4. If all goes well, we will send him to T-Ball practice and see how it goes.

I am also ready, this time, to call it quits if it is not going well.  This amount of planning and preparing are just parts of being a parent of a kid with special needs. We can’t just expect that things will go well.  They won’t.  We need to set our kid up for success. If we’ve tried our best and things don’t go well, it is also our job to make sure that it is not causing M to feel like a failure.  This is why step 4 is so important.  If he can’t do it while we are practicing, then he probably can’t do it when he is on the field.  We will sacrifice the $40 sign up and try again when he is a bit older.

M, at 2 years old, first time swinging a bat.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Trying to not be so irritated

Warning: I am having a moody day. It’s Monday. It’s cold. The kids had a rough night sleep due to some inconsiderate neighbors setting off fireworks around 11 pm. I accidentally left my laptop at home so I am using my terrible desktop machine in my cubicle which is truly a doorstop because it literally doesn’t function other than being able to check my email and use Notepad. In any case, it makes a good excuse to blog a bit. It definitely helps me process and I have wanted to use this Lenten season to reflect more and appreciate the good things in life. AND IN ORDER TO DO THAT, I HAVE TO GET SOMETHING OFF MY CHEST.

M has been a bit off all week. G was traveling for work and I know it is hard on the kids when their routine is disrupted. In any case, as FASD parents know, the little things tend to snowball into mood dysregulation. As a form of self punishment, we went to a kids birthday party yesterday. G insists that it is better to have M experience these things and the dysregulated aftermath then to avoid them and never learn to deal with these types of overstimulating situations. In fact M did pretty well there. He found a quiet space when he needed it. But this is always how it is for him, he can keep it together and then he lets loose after. He was SO WHINEY at home. Everything is so “bored” and it is “taking TOO long”. These are his common complaints. I learned in Occupational Therapy that he is not really bored or impatient, but that he has trouble identifying which sensory input he needs so his body just feels crappy and he will complain about random feelings that he isn’t feeling. I guess for parents of neurotypical children, imagine that sometimes when your kid says “I’m hungry” instead of just giving him a snack, you have to guess from a list of possibilities; is he tired? does he need proprioceptive input? is he sad? or is there a tag irritating him? are his socks on the “right way” (which is inside-out)? I go through a list of things to check and see what helps. Last night, he couldn’t swallow food. This morning, he still couldn’t swallow food. This is often a symptom of overstimulation for us. He can only eat crunchy, salty things. The sensation of other things in his mouth makes him gag. So I take my kid to a birthday party and then he can’t eat for 24 hours afterwards. Cool.

But to get to the heart of what is bothering me today, I hate going to birthday parties. I truly feel like I have almost NOTHING in common with other moms. Birthday party small talk is excruciating to me. Especially those moms whose kids are super laid back and easy going and who have never had to feed their kids potato chips just to get them to eat something. The side-eye I got when I gave my kid a pile of chips (to calm his nerves) made me want to scream. And then cry. This particular circle of friends is particularly self-righteous and I overheard such things as “I feel so guilty letting him watch a movie on Fridays, you know, because of too much screen time.” and “I never would have thought to make a peanut butter and jelly sandwich, He has only had peanut butter and honey.” when it was suggested to use M&Ms as a motivator for potty training, a look of disgust and “She has NEVER had an M&M.”

I can overhear a little mom talk and brush it off. But today I wanted to reflect on why it bothers me SO MUCH. I think I figured it out. Not because I think it is a great thing to feed your kid chips and Pirate’s Booty as an alternative to not eating, but truly because of what it implies. If they think that they are forever ruining their child’s future if he/she were to ingest some food dye or a cheeto, what does that mean for my kiddo who was pumped full of Meth
and alcohol for the most important developmental period of his life? Now I am going to have a good cry, and then feel better.