When, when !! Blast it all….When!!!
By Pamela Mari
My son likes to watch “The Sword and the Stone” the Disney movie about Merlin the Magician. There is a scene where Merlin tells the sugar bowl “when, when, blast it all….when!!” as the animated sugar bowl continues to spoon sugar overflowing his tea cup. The message - “enough is enough”.
This too, is true for many of our kids with autism. You have to plan accordingly. You have to know when“enough is enough” or you may be pushing your and their limits.
This week we were scheduled for a “psych eval”. A tedious task that must be done every six months in our area to determine if a child still “qualifies” for therapeutic staff support services, mobile therapy and behavioral specialist support. Basically, red tape for the insurance company to make sure they are paying for“progress” on the child’s part. My son has begun to hate these visits to the provider’s office because on previous occassions, he overheard another child on the spectrum making loud vocalizations. He remembers that. Every time we go now I’m biting my lip that he makes it though without meltdown.
He was doing surprisingly well. Answering all the doctor’s questions about school and camp and Halloween. She gave a nod showing her approval of his participation in the conversation. We were about 20 minutes into the interview at that point.
I could tell he was nearing the “when, when” limit when the “sugar overflowed the tea cup”. He became upset when the doctor said one of his “least preferred words” (he has a major aversion to some common words and gets very upset). The glorious presentation turned into a major meltdown. Ok, bad enough. Sometimes it cannot be avoided but then, to make matters worse, both the doctor and my son’s Dad started calling his name to get his attention, thinking they could stop the meltdown.
I am not on the spectrum but I had a major auditory issue with hearing his name being called from two directions in the room. “JOEY”…left…”JOEY…right” “JOEY…left”
“JOEY…right”. It was a bombardment of sound that even I could not stand. I don’t know what kept me from saying “Blast it all..WHEN!!!!! Do either of you really think that by yelling his name together it will help calm him?
We managed to “escape” the office in what seemed to be an eternity. I would think that a professional in the field would understand the idea that some of our children do not do well in question and answer periods. And, if they manage to make it through, don’t’ push your luck.
In speaking with another autism mom today and explaining the situation to her she offered her thoughts. She remarked that she has no problem at this point in her life in explaining when beginning an interview with her son, that if she sees her child becoming nervous or agitated she will, for the benefit of all concerned, immediately state they are leaving to prevent any such incident and unnecessary anxiety for her son. I took that piece of advice under advisement.
I had not however, practiced what I preached because I had also scheduled an in home visit on the very same day, two hours after the psych eval, by a state visual consultant for my son’s vocational goals.
“Oh no”, I thought, “he will never make it through another interview today”, “I have to call her and cancel”. I was wielding the sugar spoon and had not taken my own “when, when” recommendations. About half an hour passed and things calmed down.
My son made it through the second interview with flying colors. I was amazed at his conversation with the vocational counselor. She too smiled at his answers to her questions. As the conversation ended he directed her in the blunt fashion some of our children exhibit “you have to leave now”. And she did but we had accomplished two very important goals and survived.
I will not, however, ever, keep spooning that sugar on. I now know “when”.