George is three. And George is. . . George. He really defies definition. He’s sociable and friendly and has a funny sense of humor (for a 3 year old, anyway). Most people who meet him have a hard time believing that he has an ASD diagnosis. But . . . George.
George holds himself together really well in public or school settings. He very rarely tantrums or has meltdowns where non-family members can see him. At home, though, it’s a different story.
Generally, when he starts throwing a fit about something, we just remove him from the situation, he’ll take a couple of minutes to calm down and then come back completely fine. Logic works amazingly well with him. For example, if he’s insisting on X bowl, but X bowl isn’t available, then you tell him that he either uses Y bowl or doesn’t get breakfast. He’ll bitch about it for a few minutes, then cave. Hey, it works.
The other night, though, things got bad and I think we had a little bit of a breakthrough with him.
It was dinner time and we gave George first pick of which chair he wanted to sit in. He picked and took his spot. Simon sat in the chair next to him. George, who has his feet firmly planted in the “me, too” phase, immediately insisted he wanted Simon’s chair.
Well, George, no, Simon is sitting there. You picked THIS chair. This is George’s chair tonight.
He went ballistic. He knocked his chair over, was picking up toys off the floor and throwing them, and screaming. He stomped out of the room and stood in the hallways just howling. And it wasn’t a typical tantrum scream, either. I’m talking a sustained high-pitched scream like someone was cutting his arm off. It was . . . Intense.
I got a hold of him and took him to the couch, where I held him and patted his back while he kept screaming. Anytime I would speak, he’d scream and kick. He didn’t want to count, which is usually a good way to defuse him. He didn’t want the ABCs. I finally started singing “Puff the Magic Dragon” and he slowly started to calm down.
“I so scared. I so scared.” That was all he would say to me. “I so scared.”
That’s when it occurred to me that his emotions at that point were SO big and SO intense that he was scaring himself. He couldn’t control it and that terrified him.
Unfortunately, he didn’t qualify for ABA therapy at school and, as I’ve mentioned before, private ABA is nearly impossible for us to get for the boys. So, we’re flying solo on this, trying to figure out how best to help him.
He’s only three. That’s a hell of a burden for a little guy.