Stress has become the reality of our modern lifestyles. We are constantly bombarded with different stimuli throughout the day. And when it comes to my aspie, it is often the most intense moments of our life. Our joint attempts to identify and avoid the triggers have been one of our main goals for years."Stress is not a reaction. It is our response TO what happens. And RESPONSE is something we can choose.~~ Maureen Killoran"
Before his diagnosis, his meltdowns consisted of him sobbing. He suffered silently, unable to tell me what was bothering him. I used to think he was being stubborn and he was doing this to me on purpose. Sometimes, I used to continue asking him what was wrong, but he never did.
The sobbing would stop eventually as he sat in the corner doing his timeout. But I noticed that the timeout was serving no purpose. He enjoyed his solitude and withdrew to his own world. Sometimes, I would find him circling the living room with a smile on his face. Then he would go and read his books, one of my little encyclopedia's obsessive routines. Eventually, I would get calls by his teachers that he wasn't paying attention in class and not completing his work because he was busy reading, writing, and drawing.
I realized that I found out when he was stressed. Not what was stressing him, but what to look for when he was under the stress. Whatever it was, it manifested itself into this self-soothing behavior, that often got in the way of his school work and attentiveness at home. I put a stop to behaviors like circling, I redirected his need to reading, writing, and drawing to deal with the stressful situation.
Now that he is sixteen, I don't know whether it is the teen angst or the Aspergers is that is adding to the stress level.
After trying many things to keep him away from his obsessions such as reading, drawing, writing, and music, I decided incorporate it into his routine so he could avoid it.
After my observation and a short discussion with him, we narrowed it down to a few. Time management, homework (too much or too little), and mostly social situations such as when his friends were arguing and he was caught in the middle. The social situation also played a role when watching his little siblings and cousins. He felt out of control because his siblings would not listen to him when they were being too rowdy.
As a mom, you have an inkling that he is getting stressed out. Can't really pinpoint it, but you know it's coming. So this is what we do.
1. We have a brief conversation about anything good or bad thing that happened in the day, how he reacted, and what he should do in certain situations. That makes him feel better to discuss appropriate and inappropriate reactions.
2. He is asked to ask if he feels overwhelmed. Then I would give him his Itouch for him to go for a run or walk around the block. I don't ask him why, I just ask him to get it out of his system.
3. We have a quick meeting when he comes home and compare calendars which includes homework, quizzes, and activities coming up and when they are due. That takes care of him feeling overwhelmed by the work load.
4. We agreed that his soothing behaviors like reading, writing, drawing is allowed in one designated folder organized and away from his school work. As long as he is done with his responsibilities, I give him free time to do what he wants.
5. My expectations of him in general are realistic and he has admitted so. But just in case, I repeat it to make sure he doesn't get stressed out.
The main thing for us is predictability and consistency. I know, as well as my aspie, that life is unpredictable. But we have an open line of communication. He knows he can say anything to me and I will not judge him because he is my son and I love him with all of my life. I think that has made the difference in him slowly coming to his own. I just hope it continues.
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