I'm finding that making judgments about the interventions we use with Bud can be sort of like going out to eat at a fantastic restaurant: the first bite is so good and so satisfying that my brain makes the leap that if some of this is good, then more of it will be better. I dive in and begin to devour what's in front of me, and before I know it I discover that I am so full it hurts and that, in retrospect, more good has turned out to be not-so-good.
I suppose that in the midst of these feeding frenzies my body tries to send cues to my brain ("For the love of God, stop eating!"), but I am so swept up in the moment that I don't (or I choose not to) interpret the cues correctly.
I'm afraid I've done the same thing with Bud's "therapies."
Last year, Bud saw a massage therapist who did Cranio-Sacral Therapy. At first, he loved the sessions. They relaxed him, and he looked forward to them. As time passed, he began to have mixed reactions to the therapy. He had one session that was particularly intense; he was more fully engaged and "into" it than he had ever been, and because of that it was the longest session he'd ever had. Following that session, Bud did a complete turn-around. He didn't want the therapist to touch him the next week. Or the week after that. Or the week after that. I don't know if that last session was too intense, if it kicked up emotion, or if it was unsettling to him, and he didn't have the language to talk about his reaction. Each week he said he wanted to go, but then when we got to the office he'd say he wanted to leave. It took me several weeks of making attempts, giving him encouragement, and asking him for words and explanations to realize that he was telling me what he needed, but I wasn't listening.
He needed to be done.
We've just had a similar experience with Bud's occupational therapy sessions, but this time it took me even longer to get it. Bud's been having one-on-one OT sessions for more than a year, and for a long time he really enjoyed them. They helped with some of his sensory integration difficulties and helped improve his fine motor skills. But in recent months, Bud has been having out-of-character reactions to his OT. He has been bossy, belligerent, defiant, stubborn, rude - in other words, none of the things that we know him to be. I spoke to his OT about it ("We never see this from him..."), but of course this was all she was seeing of him, so perhaps I sounded like a mom in denial. I chalked it up to a developmental phase, to him testing boundaries, and I convinced myself that it would pass. OT has always been good for him, I reasoned, and so of course it will continue to get better. More is better, more is better, more is better.
I'm usually at work when Bud has his OT sessions, but two weeks ago I was running late and the OT was running early and I was home to hear the session from downstairs. Bud, who had spent the morning happy and cheerful and easy-going, changed in an instant and began engaging in battle. The OT stood her ground, and the situation escalated. I stood at the bottom of the stairs with indecision rooting me to the spot.
Should I intervene? Does he need me? Will I be undermining the work that she's doing?
I started up the stairs slowly, then broke into a run as I heard Bud start to cry. I dropped down next to him on the floor and he buried his face in me and sobbed. I rocked him and whispered to him. The OT was frustrated, probably with me. I could feel her tension and aggravation as she spoke to Bud and asked if he was angry. I'm sure that he could feel it, too.
She told me that she had some information for me about mercury.
I told her I had a lot of information about mercury.
She said it was brand new research.
Bud sobbed some more, and we rocked together.
He needed to be done.
So we're taking a break from OT. Maybe a short break, maybe a permanent break. I'm upset with myself for not reading Bud's cues better and earlier, for making him continue when he was clearly ready to stop, for pushing for more, more, more instead of walking away at "just enough."
It's hard to know how much is "just enough." It's hard to walk away from a once-good thing when there is still more available. But I need to learn to recognize the signs that good has gone past better and is cycling back toward bad.
I need to learn when to say "when," and then walk away from the table with the satisfaction of moderation and good judgment instead of the pain of over-indulgence. Because let's face it: when I over-indulge, it's really Bud who feels the pain.