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Friday, January 13, 2012

Just Breathe

The night started like any other night, it was time for my son to start homework. The routine hasn't changed and I had no idea what was about to occur. I wonder if I would have done anything different if I did know. I would like to think that I would still be the "mean" mommy and still have him start his homework. After all it was a light homework night. He had no math homework only 10 words of his spelling and 20 minutes of reading and three small sentences. I fear it was the sentences that were the culprit this evening.

The first time he had this assignment he had such a rough time. To me it was such a simple thing, three connections. Three things that the book he was reading made him connect to. I do it all the time, to me it is second nature. Sometimes the connections are complicated and sometimes they are as simple as remembering a song that is mentioned in the book. A song that ties into a beloved job a planetarium. Funny after all these years listening to Holst's Jupiter and I still can remember exactly how it goes.

Three simple connections, to him though I think they are more like three 15 page term papers. Of course I offer to help and I page through the book he is reading. I bought this book because it involves the solar system and I thought P would like it because he loves watching Discovery Channel shows about the solar system. I see many connections that he could make between the words on the page and the many things that have occurred to him in his childhood. Unfortunately when I mention these connections he can't see them. He believes the connection must be exact. Eventually he will get it, but it won't be tonight.

I believe what happened next can best be said by Maurice Sendak in Where the Wild Things Are "Let the wild rumpus start." and it did. He started crying and complaining then as it usually happens at this point his ears got red. They get too hot and that almost always overwhelms him. The combination of the ears and him having to come up with the dreaded connections became all that were needed for the temper tantrum avalanche to occur. The next hour was miserable for both of us. More so for him I think because I had to let it happen. He has to understand that a temper tantrum will not get him out of doing his homework. I had to understand that I can't always gather him in my arms and comfort him. I wonder how long it will take me to learn that.

He might have been able to push through the original temper tantrum, but in the process of flailing around the book that he was holding hit him in the eye. I think I have mentioned that pain for him is either a 0 or a 10, there is nothing in between. Now he has hot ears, hated homework and a hurt eye. He starts running back and forth in the living room and stimming by flapping his arms. He has new sounds that I have not heard before that almost sound like words. I try to talk him down. He needs to learn how to do that. We have worked on breathing exercises before and he is beginning to understand that they can help him calm down.

Again he is almost done with the temper tantrum, I don't know how much time has passed but it has been a while. Then just as I think it is over he stubs his toe. Round three begins. This time I try to hold him, I try to comfort him. He is so upset that he can't be calmed. Time keeps ticking away and he is about to wear a path into our carpet. The worst part is that upstairs his daddy is relaxing before he goes to work. He must know what is happening and is not coming downstairs to help either me or his son.

Finally an hour (I think) has gone by and P is exhausted. He has hurt himself I think four times. Such innocent hurts but to him they are like the pain of a broken bone, at least that is what it sounds like to me. I finally can hug him and wipe the tears away. He writes one connection and I know when I am beat. He takes the book that he needs to read for 20 minutes and we snuggle on his bed. I kiss him good night and know he will soon fall asleep.

Then I Google "Asperger's and Red Ears" His doctor tells us the red ears is a result of him not wearing a hat in the winter and almost getting frostbite. He assures us that eventually they will stop bothering him and for a while I believed that. But I have noticed when his ears get red is when he is overwhelmed. I have noticed other children with sensory issues also have the same thing happen to them.

That is why I did the Google search. This is what I found, most link that popped up mentioned celiacs and suggested a gluten free diet. Gluten, found in many grains, something that is prevalent in most of the foods that P (and I) love. Celiacs, also know as sprue, something that D's uncle had complications from and died from many years ago. Celiacs, that does seem to have a tie in with autism. So is it celiacs or a sensory issue or both. Deep breath Mommy, just breathe and don't panic.

D is about to leave for work and I try to talk to him about this, He starts talking about his uncle and we talked about diet restrictions and then I said the worse thing ever (at least for my son), soy sauce was on the don't ever eat list. Somehow my sleepy son heard this and came rushing out of his room, I guess he hadn't fallen asleep. He is so upset that he can't have soy sauce anymore. Poor kiddo, he was so upset, and crying about his beloved soy sauce. Funny how we all have a food that is a deal breaker. Spinach was mine when I was told I couldn't eat food with oxilates in it, soy sauce is his. Luckily Google came to the rescue as we looked for gluten free soy sauce and found that is does exhist. Crisis averted and he went back to bed.

Okay, I'm not jumping to conclusions. I will approach this calmly. I made a doctor appointment for P and mentioned his anxiety, homework issues and maybe a food allergy or celiacs. We will start paying attention to what he is eating and see if gluten might be an issue. Just breathe!!!

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