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.