Thursday, July 14, 2005

A very autistic day

You know how some days just feel more autistic than others? Today was a very autistic day for Bud. In her post "A little bit of Hollywood (#20)," Charlie's mom submits the hypothesis that "a change in the barometric pressure--as when a storm is gathering in the sky, all gray thundering clouds and moisture accruing in the air--seems to occur parallel with a behavioral squall in Charlie." I hadn't specifically noticed the pattern before, but I had an instant "a-ha" moment when I read that.

There have been thunderstorms brewing outside since morning. The air is thick and heavy and is waiting, waiting, waiting for the coming storm that threatens and looms. And poor little Bud has been a mess all day.

This morning he was uncharacteristically weepy. "Bud's sad," he said, as his Nana helped him get ready for school and talked about all the fun things he'd do there. He only responded with more tears. "But you don't love school!" he told her. And as I loaded him into the car for the long mournful drive to school, he enumerate the many reasons why this was a bad idea: "But I'm too big. School is too early. But school is loud. It's too late for school, Mama."

Somehow he made his way through his time at school (coincidentally the day his kindergarten teacher chose to come and observe him... figures, right?) The teachers didn't get into detail but said "he wasn't himself."

After school, Nana took him to Dunkin' Donuts - usually a favorite treat. But the Munchkins went uneaten and Bud went into manic phase, approaching truck drivers with uncharacteristic bravado and loudly scripting from Sesame Street, "Are YOU my mystery friend???"

Tonight there was a happy lull while he played Mr. Potato Head with his dad, and I made the very grave error of allowing him to stay up much too late. As a result, bedtime was a dreary mess of tears, sobs, snot, kicking, scripting and pleas that made very little sense: "No, Mama, No! What are you doing?! Stop it, Mama! Waitwaitwaitwaitwaitwaitmama! Mama, no!" I'm sure if the neighbors could hear him they'd think I was beating him, and not sitting next to him trying to read Curious George. I piled him into his swing to try to get some sensory regulation going, but he kept the monologue running: "Oh no no no! Mama, I need something bigger! I need something bigger! PLEASE, Mama!" The poor kid just spiraled out of control until he finally wore himself out.

I've been scratching my head all evening. Did I accidentally give him the wrong dose of Adderall? But I didn't. I know I didn't. I think that Charlie's mom is on to something. The storm is brewing, and it's closer than we know.


Kyra said...

hey! yesterday was a very autistic day over here as well, beginning with Fluffy throwing himself on the floor in utter despair for reasons unknown and ending with a bedtime that stretched into a 2-hour ordeal... my husband and i hypothesized about the weather creating some of his unease and lo and beyold, your post!

Kristina Chew said...

What Bud said about school--that it's "too early" and "too loud," and then everything he said at his too late bedtime hour--that's what I've thought Charlie might tell me, if he had the words. He had two behavior-free days at the start of the week and then there I was in the principal's office at the end...... I hustled Charlie off the pool and he proceeded to give himself a total sensory experience, sinking down to the bottom of the deep end and back up.
Sounds like we might have an idea for a research project for those scientists if we could get their attention--I'll start trying---

Anonymous said...

I ask/share with my son's therapists, docs and teachers about patterns where he has tougher "sensory challenged days" and how they are related to a range of factors like the weather and the barometric pressure! They give me that "pat on the head" look (the one we have all seen) but I KNOW it makes his days harder when we have the storm fronts come through.
He has a dual diagnosis of Down syndrome & PDD-NOS. The sheer battle of getting professionals to understand that it's not a matter of "severe Down syndrome" - a ridiculous term...we don't even know why there is a range with DS - there's a range with typcial population too. He lost skills at age 3 in verbal, signing and began the stemming, lining up things, repeating actions and hair cuts? Yiks.
Frustratingly, the DS features just get him written off entirely with the dual diagnosis. The Autism experts see the DS and write him off. The DS pros see the Autism and write him off. I see a unique individual that blooms and grows despite the prejudices. I'm the one who keeps hacking our way out of the "severe profound" jungle of neglect that is the easy "placement" for the "system.

I was told repeatedly that someone could not have DS and Autism way back in 1998 when I was watching it happen. How ignorant could professionals be? It's like saying you can't have cancer and diabetes. It stinks and it's not fair but it happens.

The weather IS a factor for many with Autism and Sensory integration issues. There are patterns we will connect like the weather issues - keep sharing - it helps all of us know we are not crazy, not in some denial or grasping at straws. We're the expert folks. It's a matter of getting the professionals to catch up.

mom-nos said...

Anonymous, keep doing what you're doing. And I hope you'll keep checking in.

As for the dual diagnosis, as a child psychologist we saw earlier this year told me, "Just because your leg is broken, doesn't mean you don't have a headache."

Candace Sellers said...

Hi, my name is Candace and I have an autistic 2 1/2 year old boy. I was searching for some answers today and you answered it for me. My Jacob has not been himself for the past two or three days. Those days we had tornado watches out. It was real muggy and hot. The wind has been really strong. I had to pick him up early from school because they were telling me that " Jake just doesnt seem himself. He won't even eat." And they know something is wrong if he doesnt eat. He eats extremely well. I just want to say thank you, because I thought it was the pressure due to the storms. And now I know that I'm not alone in thinking this. How do you cope with this now that you know what could be causing these issues? My email is I would love to share stories. I could never receive too much advice once it comes to autism.