Saturday, October 17, 2009

Oreos / Sophie / Mother of all Meltdowns

Our day was rather quiet. Nikko woke up WAY early, around 6:30 or so, and I was sure he would have woken everyone else up. Denis ushered him from the room to our bed, where Nikko seemed to rest but started gibbering and sitting up. I thought I heard Ronin start to stir around 7a so I took Nikko back to the room with me where I'd try to lie down with him a bit longer. Ronin was still sleeping when I came in, and Nikko continued to jabber instead of go back to sleep. Thus, I couldn't go back to sleep. Around 7:20a I decided to just get up and get Nikko some breakfast. Ronin woke up 20 minutes later, then I got Audrey closer to 8a and we were all awake in the kitchen except for Denis. This early waking caused Nikko to become cranky and fall asleep in the living room with us around 11:30ish. Any nap I tried to take was interrupted in 10 minute intervals by any kid in the room, take your pick. After lunch I put Ronin and Audrey down for their naps. But we had to get rocking and rolling around 3:15p because we were meeting the Creens in downtown Mount Prospect for the tail end of a Halloween celebration by the village. It was supposed to end at 4, then Oktoberfest was to continue for the adults. It was a dreary day, not as cold as it has been, but drizzling off and on.

When we got the kids in the stroller and walked to the street intersection where the event was taking place, Nikko started getting antsy and was reaching for the food bag immediately. I wondered if he was hungry for a snack, and I knew exactly what he wanted. I managed to wait until we hit the grounds before opting to give Nikko a cookie. It was the beginning of uncomfortable tension for us. As we met up with the Creens, I realized that Denis and I will have to work out a plan for handling Nikko's public meltdowns as a team. I know that giving Nikko a cookie when he starts to lash out may quiet him down temporarily, but isn't the healthiest alternative. Unfortunately, it is the only motivational item (besides a lollipop) that will placate Nikko in public. Carrot sticks or celery just won't cut it with him. And the saltine crackers or the graham crackers I normally carry aren't satisfying enough for him either. When I tell him I have no cookies, whether or not it's true, and when I stick to it and don't give him any, an inevitable meltdown/tantrum always follows and no one is happy. I usually have to leave the store I'm in because the spectacle is so great. Not fun.

Back to the Halloween thing, the Creen kids went on a pony ride while we observed from the sidelines. Ronin didn't want to leave the stroller for whatever reason, and I was positive that Nikko would probably spook the ponies if we tried to put him on one. Audrey - forget it. We headed into an Oktoberfest tent to get out of the cold and it was heated quite nicely. It was a good place to snack the kids, which I proceeded to do. Graham crackers for Audrey, crackers for Ronin and Nikko, and leftover popcorn for Nikko as well. Nikko was excited to be in the tent and seemed to like all the different people milling around. The entire grounds was loud with music piping from overly loud speakers. Nikko started running from our table to the entrance of the tent, laughing when he brushed by someone's leg. One nice guy remarked that I had my hands full, and I agreed with a smile. As I tried to give Audrey crackers in her stroller, I noticed that Nikko was venturing out a little further from the tent entrance each time. The entrance had cement barricades on either side and Nikko was soon running halfway past the barricades. I went back to fetch him a few times, entice him with juice and tried to run alongside with him to change his direction. One time I saw that he ran up to a little girl, and the girl hugged Nikko. Kinda cute, but not if the parents didn't like it. The girl continued to come into the tent by us, and when I looked at her I noticed her face from the sheet of classmates from Westbrook. I looked up at the mom and we introduced ourselves, happy that Sophie and Nikko knew each other. Nikko didn't seem to mind her presence, but was also staring over and around her, eager to get back to running. Sophie was nonverbal when I observed Nikko's preschool back in May '09, and the mom (Caroline) told me that she was still nonverbal for the most part, but could say "Hi Nikko" and "Bye Nikko". Sophie is 3.5. This must be her 2nd year in Westbrook. Her father's name is Fabian and I saw him at the last school meeting. There is a Halloween Hoopla at the school where families can come for the last half hour of class, but I am debating whether or not I can go with both Ronin and Audrey. They are still so small to cart around, Audrey not a pro-walker yet, and Ronin would definitely be everywhere. I wouldn't have a helper. BUT, I told Caroline that we would go to the sign language class on the 29th for sure.

After they parted, things went downhill for us. Nikko's running increased and Ronin joined him at the tent entrance. Nikko started running into people's legs, brushing by a person and laughing. Some people would look down and laugh, some would ignore him, and I started to see some "looks" from others. If I was nearby, I'd apologize. I heard an announcement that more activities would be taking place in our tent and realized that even more people would be walking our way. Nikko was not listening to me when I hauled him aside, and he would forcefully pry himself out of my grasp. I decided we had enough and should leave. Nikko began protesting loudly, crying out and struggling violently because he didn't want to leave. Then he started turning around and hitting at the balloons tied to the stroller. He was bucking in his seat. Finally he started lashing out at Ronin. I firmly held Nikko's arms down and told him to calm down, to which he cried and hissed his refusal. I saw a lady at the next table looking at Nikko quizzically so I put my arms around Nikko and hugged him tight. I wanted to cry right there, but pulled it together and told Denis it was TIME TO GO NOW. Bless Patrick Creen's heart, he helped wheel the stroller while Denis and I took turns hauling Nikko back to the car. When Patrick left and we started loading the kids, I couldn't help but start bawling. I put Nikko in his chair and told Denis to give me an Oreo for him to calm down. Nikko started swatting Audrey's car seat, so I figured the cookie would calm him. I gave it to Nikko in his right hand so he couldn't swat at Audrey, and Nikko was wailing GOOOOOOOO GOOOOO GOOOO. I fell apart and heaved big sobs, embarrassed for his public outburst, saddened that I couldn't calm Nikko without a cookie, and just plain old feeling horrible that Nikko had to go through this tantrum. He was probably overstimulated by the sights, sounds, smells and being outdoors. I cried on the way home. We still haven't figured out an alternative go-to item besides Oreos that would be appropriate for Nikko in a tantrum moment. Nikko was back to his old self when we got home, but the pain from our outing lasted a long time for me. I may write a message on the autism forums regarding the Oreo alternative; maybe those moms could lend me some insight.

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