As promised, I'm here again, this time with my lap-sitting cat Dorian Gray, to write a post about personality differences in children and why I can handle M1 but not M2. This might be another long one, but do I really write any other kind??
Sorry about that. Feel free to not read all the way to the end.
Off to the races...
M1 has not always been "easy" to handle. Fine, if I'm honest, he still isn't sometimes, but we've come to understand one another better. From the perspective of many folks, he's odd, which I suppose comes with the territory when you have a disorder from the autistic spectrum. We went to a birthday party a few weeks ago at a friend's house where the kids and I frequently go to play. M1 and Oz were playing baseball in the back yard - just toss, hit, toss, hit, etc. Oz noticed that M1's shoe had come untied and asked him to tie it.
I didn't see it, but apparently he did his thing where his arms fly up in the air and he thrashes and flops about like a fish for a little while before becoming coherent enough to listen to the fact that ALL YOU DID was ask him to tie hie shoe, which is something he's perfectly capable of doing. And then he'll do it. And then all is well. He is a logical little Spock. On half of him is a human stuffed full of emotions with an especially large, red-headed temper; the other half is a logical scientist who can listen and debate with the best. Emotions run strong in this one, but I have no doubt he'll eventually conquer them.
A couple of people who had never seen one of his fits (a next-door neighbor and the husband of another friend of mine) were just in shock. Oz didn't even blink, took care of the problem, and had totally forgotten about it till I asked him if M1 had thrown a fit at the party over shoe-tying, because my friend whose husband saw it mentioned it to her and she was just making sure M1 was okay.
Well, sure he is. As okay as it gets!
Clearly, we're used to these sorts of tantrums. They happen. We're all just happy that his anxiety has settled down to the point where he's no longer bouncing off of the furniture or walls and doesn't make life miserable for everyone (including himself) because he can't handle the smallest request or scenario change.
The trouble is that M2's fits are entirely different. There is screaming and wailing and gnashing of teeth, just like an M1 tantrum, but her screams are like nothing I've ever heard come out of a child. They're primal. Gutteral. They remind me of a bobcat, to be honest. Plus... They. Just. Don't. Quit. Once she gets started, we're in for the long haul because she's more than likely checked out and won't be back to her regularly scheduled self for some time. Buckle your seatbelt and hang on for dear life, folks; we've hit some turbulence.
And just like airplane turbulence, you never know when her fits will strike. M1 has predictable tantrums. If you ask him to switch gears in the middle of something or get him when he's hungry or tired or put him in a loud place for too long, he will eventually lose it. Guaranteed. Finding his triggers has done wonders for our family and for him, because now I know there are just times when I canNOT ask him to do things. On the other hand, I *never* know when an M2 fit will show up. They can show up when asked to do things (sometimes but not others), when someone irritates her (but the same person could do the same thing another day and she'd be fine), or she could just have a fit out of the blue with no obvious provocation.
That's what happened yesterday. We were in the lobby of the Bartlesville Community Center at OK Mozart and I suggested that we go into the room where the stage was and look through the gift shop area before going to sit down to watch Miss Megan.
"I don't want to go in there."
"Why not? Look, they have jewelry!" (She loves, adores, and begs for jewelry. She's a girly-girl.)
"I don't know, but I'm not going in there. I don't *LIKE* jewelry."
Well, because I'm a genius, I coerced her into going in there, thinking that surely if we sat in one spot and she had some snuggle time, she'd settle. WRONG!!!! I won't get into everything that ensued, but it sure wasn't pretty. The umbrella chewing was one of the quieter, nicer moments of the whole shebang.
I tried talking to her to figure out why she didn't want to be there, but honestly, I don't think there was any logic or reasoning behind it. She just didn't want anything to do with that room and was willing to do anything in her power to get me to take her out of it.
Which brings me to the third major difference in the kids' fits. M1, for all his screaming and wailing and gnashing of teeth, has never deliberately tried to hurt anyone. He'll try to get away if you touch him when he's upset and may lash out then, but that has more to do with sensory input than trying to injure the person who touched him. M2 will hurt you. She will wrap her arms around you and squeeze you so hard it actually does hurt. She'll pinch. She'll hit. She'll kick and bite and headbutt and scream in your ear (on purpose) so that you'll give in and give her whatever it is that she wants at that precise moment in time.
Whatever that is.
Oh, and if you dare to send her to her room during a tantrum, she'll stomp all the way there, slam it shut as hard as she can (sometimes repeatedly for better effect), and beat the ever-living tar out of it with whatever is handy - toys, fists, feet, etc., all while uttering the bobcat scream.
So all of this is why I thought that surely a book called "The Explosive Child" might help... and surely reading "The New Strong-Willed Child" might help. Because while well-proven methods of working issues out with logic and thought and plans have worked wonders for M1 (with the added bonus of figuring out his triggers so I can catch him in the good moments to think about the bad ones), I don't think they're going to do much for M2. When you can't see the tantrums coming and you can't get your child to think (or speak human, let alone English) in the middle of a fit, and when she's all sunshine and rainbows when it's over and hardly remembers what she has done... traditional methods don't work.
Part 3 will be all about how we went about originally diagnosing M1's issues and what I'm doing to see about helping M2. Raising crazy kids is hard work, isn't it?? ;)