This morning began alright. Little D woke up at his usual time, just after 6. I had a horrible night with Little Sis, suffice it to say there was crying for hours, sleeping on the floor and midnight diaper changes followed by the rest of the night with her kicking my back. To top off my awful, sleepless night, Daddy was snoring (allergies) and clumsily poking my face in his sleep. You know what’s the best? … waking up to being poked in the eye. I’m used to it with my kids, but I’m new to being poked in the eye by my Husband. Good thing I love him.
Anyway, none of that is what is spawning this morning post. I made pancakes this morning and Little D threw a fit about syrup. First he wanted to eat his syrupy, sticky pancakes at the computer. No. Enter fit. We offer choices usually, but I couldn't think of any. Finally he comes to the table and wants his syrup on his pancakes. ... all of them. He wants the syrup to cover each and every bite, but there's already a puddle on the plate. Enter meltdown. I offer options to get the syrup on each bite, but it's not working. Then he threw a fit over his plate being an inch too close to me. That same meltdown has been going on for almost half an hour with no real sign of stopping. Daddy, bless him, is taking Little D to do laundry so I get a break from the madness. Woo HOO!
Little D’s behavior has been similar to what I just related, or worse for the last 2 to 3 months. Despite the plethora of online parenting advice and tips for 2 and 3-year-olds, there is an appalling lack of advice for parents with children who have developmental problems, special needs or are on the Autism Spectrum. Trust me, I’ve looked. I can find pages and pages about getting counseling, seeking diagnosis and professional help, however the simple day-to-day advice for parents is missing!
Against my better judgment, recently and in the past, I have asked friends and family for advice on how to deal with some of Little D’s less desirable behaviors, (i.e. meltdowns, flip-outs, screaming fits, hitting, punching, pinching, pushing, some of which he does to himself, which is disturbing). I have heard it all from spanking to time-outs, removal of toys and privileges (one person suggested removing his oral stimulation tools, clearly that is ill advised) or creating a star chart and removing stars when he does something unacceptable, or locking him in his room either with a key or with a baby gate.
There is something missing from all of this well-meaning advice, however. That is, these people, no matter how much they care about me or Little D, lack the knowledge that I have. They haven’t read the countless blogs from other Sensory moms, the books from experts, the journal articles, the advice from experts like Occupational Therapists and the like. These people, for all their advice, are ignorant of the fact that Little D isn’t just a normal or “spirited” little boy. He’s my boy. My special, sensory challenged, meltdown prone, special needy, sensational boy.
From now I need to remember, that I am the expert when it comes to Little D. I know more than all of those people; about Little D, about Sensory Processing Disorder, about what is “normal” for Little D or other children. I’m in my senior year of a Child Development degree, for goodness’ sake! I need to give myself a little credit!
I’ll end this post with a word about judgments. Since having Little D, I have learned so much about children and behavior. I don’t judge those moms I see at the store whose kids are screaming bloody murder, flipping around, throwing things. Why? Because half of the time, I’m that mom. Little D has changed my thinking, and I’m so grateful for it. So think twice before you judge a child who is throwing a fit, you never know who that child is, or what that parent is dealing with. Parenting is hard enough. Parenting with special needs children is rewarding, challenging and sometimes it’s enough to make you want to quit.