SID (part 2)
Yesterday I had to take Nathan to the doctor to be tested for strep throat. I decided to try some techniques that I read about online to try and help him do better with the doctor’s examination. He hates people looking into his mouth, so I made up a game to help him with this. Using his toy flashlight, we took turns “counting teeth.” First he got to use the flashlight to count mommy’s teeth, then I got to use it to count his teeth. I made a big deal over how many teeth he has. Then I told him that tomorrow the doctor won’t believe how many teeth my big boy has, so we’ll have to show her all of his pearly white teeth. I mentioned that she will have the special light to look at his teeth so that she can see them clearly. He seemed to be ok with this.
It didn’t work, at least not this time. As I got him dressed to go, he immediately started saying, “No look ears! No look mouth!” He hates and DREADS this part of the doctor’s visit, along with anything else that involves being touched for any reason. He repeated this over and over and kicked my seat on the way there. In the waiting room, he was a bundle of nervous energy so we went outside to run along the sidewalk to help diffuse it some. We finally went back and it was a nightmare from that point on.
He had an absolute meltdown. He hid under the table yelling, “no look ears! no mouth!” until I got the nurse to hold Zane while I dragged him kicking and screaming out from behind the table. It took me and several nurses to hold him down. I’m sure people in the waiting room thought the doctor was either performing a lobotomy or tooth extraction without sedation instead of just trying to do a simple examination. By the time she finished her brief examination, he was hyperventilating and his voice was hoarse from all the yelling.
I remember at one point, before the nurse offered to hold Zane, both Nathan and Zane were fussing. Nathan was obviously starting his meltdown, and Zane was starting to cry because he was hungry and wanted to nurse. I had to chose between letting him fuss or trying to help Nathan. I felt so helpless that I pretty much started to laugh a little at the whole situation. I think sometimes you just have to laugh or else risk crying over it. It actually ended up lightening the overall mood in the room some.
The doctors and nurses were very professional about it and understanding. They didn’t give me the impression that they thought he was just being bratty or that I am a bad parent for not being able to prevent the meltdowns. However, when we walked out through the waiting room everyone stopped and looked at me to see what in the world all the fuss was about. It made me realize that not everyone will be so understanding and some will ignorantly assume wrongly that I am a bad mom or that he is a bad child.
The best way I can explain it is that a tantrum is designed to manipulate or control the child’s environment or people. A meltdown in a child with autism or sensory issues is totally different. Nathan’s meltdowns occur because he is overwhelmed and in “fight or flight”mode. He first tried to flee or hide from what bothers him, which is why he hides under the table. Since it doesn’t work due to me dragging him out, he starts the “fight”mode. He is NOT trying to be bad. He is completely and utterly “lost” in his fight to avoid his fear that not even I can calm him down. I don’t think he even realizes that I am in the room at that point. THAT is a meltdown.
To understand how he feels, imagine your worst fear. It could be height or spiders or snakes. Nathan’s fear, due to his sensory issues, is having his head touched. The only thing worse than that is to have his ears touched. So if your fear was snakes, imagine a bunch of people stronger than you telling you that you need to sit calmly while they place snakes to slither all over you for whatever reason. If the fear is serious enough, you would probably try to run from it. If they tried to drag you to force you to sit down while they bring the snakes toward you, you would probably start fighting. If you are able to get through it somewhat rationally, it is because you are mature enough and have been taught to deal with things better. A three year old does not have these skills yet. This is why he will be going to occupational therapy, to help him learn how to cope with sensory fears better. It won’t erase his fears, but it will help him learn to get through it. Or so we hope.
So that is that.
For other news, we went to grab lunch as a reward after his doctor’s visit. At the drive-through, he got to place his own order. Through the open window, he said, “HIIII!!!! May I have apple juice please? A one, two apple juice? Thank you!” He was so polite and sweet that they gave him two apple juice boxes and only charged me for one. He almost always says please, thank you, and excuse me. I am so proud of him. 🙂
Zane is doing really well. He is an absolute chunk of love and now wears 9-12 month clothes even though he is only three months old. I will post his updates soon. 🙂