Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Oh, the pressure

Yes, I know.

I know that the 11th of May has come and gone.  I know that I made a commitment to post at Hopeful Parents on the 11th of every month.  I know.

But knowing it and doing it are not the same thing, are they?  And I didn't do it.  I know.

Have you read this post from Jess at Diary of a Mom?  She talks about pulling back, saying no, scaling down expectations - other people's expectations of her and her expectations of herself.  The post resonates with me.  (The irony, of course, is that by writing the post, Jess made her deadline for Hopeful Parents, while I... well, we've already been over that, haven't we?)

I'm in a similar place, though:  No, I can't teach a class this summer.  No, I can't attend that important event.  No, I won't be making my deadline.  Maybe my priorities are shifting.  Or maybe I've just realized that in order to focus on the pressures that demand my attention, I need to abandon the pressures that are really just self-imposed.

Pressure has been on my mind a lot this week, actually.  Low pressure, to be exact.  Bud is highly affected by weather patterns, and strong low pressure systems send him spiraling.  When a strong low-pressure system comes barreling up the coast and the meteorologists start shouting "Nor'easter!", my boy begins wilding - extreme emotional responses to relatively minor setbacks and disappointments, constant sound and motion, rapid fluctuations in mood and manner. 

But this week, I've been reminded that sometimes those fast-advancing systems can be a gift, because, inevitably, it's the advance that is the problem.  Once the storm is upon us, Bud is able to settle down - so with a fast-moving system, the dysregulation is short-lived.  This week, however, the meteorologists have been marveling at the "incredibly slow-moving low-pressure system, stalled just to the southwest of us," which has my son stuck in a constant repetitive loop - rewinding the same segment of a favorite tv show again and again and again, walking miles - literally miles - in circles around the house, listening to single clips of sound on his iPad over - and over - and over, riding waves of emotional volatility, and never being quite himself - living for days on end just one step off - as though there is crick in his system that needs to pop, but won't.

There's no doubt that it's the low-pressure system causing the problem.  I hear the same issues echoed this week from other parents of kids on the spectrum.  I've gotten verification from autistic adults that low pressure systems can be intolerable for them.  It's real.  It's got to be even more challenging and confusing for Bud than it is for me.  And it's beyond his control; I know that.

And yet, knowing that doesn't mean I can do anything about it, except, perhaps, challenge myself to be a bit more patient - more tolerant of the rewind - more understanding that my son needs to stay in a predictable and repetitive behavioral loop in order to stay centered, in order to impose some kind of control on the internal chaos he feels.  All I can do is try to minimize the external pressures as we ride out the storm.

So, no, we won't be attending.  No, we won't be on time.  No, not right now.

No guilt.

No apologies.

No pressure.


Niksmom said...

Stuck in the same endless loop right there with you and Bud. UGH. Makes me want to scream but I have to remember that Nik can't control it, either. *sigh*

LOL, my word verification is "bratic"...oddly fitting. ;-)

Anita said...

Tomorrow is another day,yet will will offer yet more challenges, do what you can do...look for the flickers of light and enjoy them....

Kim said...

"No guilt. No apologies. No pressure."


Anonymous said...

Amazing. Low pressure systems rule the roost around here too.

Hope all different sources of pressure let up soon.


Alysia said...

We won't be on time or attending either. Not anytime soon.
You and Jess have the right idea. Going into summer, we all need to back off and stop trying to do it all.
Hope you get some quality time with Bud. We're spiraling in circles right with you.

jess said...

I love you. I just love you. Carry on. Or don't. As you wish. As works for you. I'll see you on the other side.

David said...

What strikes me most is how those of us not on the spectrum (at least that spectrum) respond in ways very similar to your son's, except of course it's high pressure that brings it on: the pressure of the job, the relationship, the bank account. We're all seeking safety, it seems, just like Bud. Hang in now. Some sun on Friday, I hear.

Anonymous said...

No apologies. Amen. I keep trying to apologize for my son's behavior during these times with storms, ect., but I stop myself. Most people don't understand or even believe how storms and barometric pressure can effect people on the spectrum. But, live with it, and you beome a believer.


Jess said...

Do you have any information on the low pressure system/SPD/autism link? I'm wondering if that's why things were super difficult for a few weeks when there were massive storms all the time. I never thought of that!

Boy Wonder's Mom said...

we are there with you. the vocal stimming has driven me round the bend.

Please next week be sunny and clear.

In more way then one.

Gina @ Special Happens said...

I completely hear you. Do what's best for you, for your family, and that's the best you can do. No one can argue with that!

kelly said...

I've noticed that spring is hard on my son, too. For us it seems to be the perfect storm (ha!) of time change, weather change and end of the school year change. As much as K likes to be done with school, I think the transition some times throws him. So the end of the school year brings the exhaustion of just having done 9 months of school and can barely hang on to do 2 more weeks and the anxiety of transitioning to being home all the time (even though he really prefers being home).

And you guys are the only people who will understand any of that. :)

So yeah. We all understand why you need to pull back too.

Ben said...

holy mackerel!
almost three years after an my diagnosis, and this is the first I've read of a link between autism and low pressure systems! I've been so sensitive to changes in pressure since I was very small, and never made a connection.

(and though I'm the 'kid' with autism, not the parent, I also struggle with the no guilt. no apologies. no pressure)

Accidental Expert said...

I haven't been visiting all my favorite blogs for a long time for the very same reason. Sometimes pulling back is necessary to one's survival.

Interesting about low pressure sensitivity. My son has a hard time around now every year. And that coincides with our season of daily thunder storms.

KathieC said...

Thank you, thank you, thank you!

I happened on by today to "see what Mom has been up to" and found this amazing, timely post. My Little Man isn't regressing (again)- it's been non-stop rain for the last two weeks!

Maybe now the "bad mother" nightmares will stop. (I had one last night in which a stranger said to me "There are books that can help you, you know?" with that look down the nose that we've all seen follow a public meltdown.) Maybe now I can get some rest.

Anonymous said...

Learning how to say "No," was one of my great achievements over the last few years. I'm still working on the no guilt part, but it's getting better. Sometimes it's the times when I WANT to sooo bad that it's the hardest...

I haven't noticed much connection with Emma and pressure... Maybe because we live at 8000 feet? Maybe because I've never thought about it??? :D I'll have to keep thought open about that, Thank you, and here's to a happy RELAXING summer!!!