Today has just been one of those days. As much as I was prepared for Caden to have difficulty with the time spent at the hotel (which for the most part he handled without too many meltdowns), I wasn’t prepared for being home to be so difficult for him. Sometimes it is almost as though he holds all of the meltdowns inside until he knows that he is in a safe environment. At the moment he sobs uncontrollably over anything and everything, answers I don’t know to any and every question, and is attempting to pack as many of the new stims that he learned into his day as possible. While his sobs are heart-wrenching and I appreciate his use of I don’t know as a noncommittal way out of questions, it is the stims that are baffling me. We’ve never needed to address his stimming. While we are assuming a let’s wait and see how this unfolds in the next few weeks attitude for the time being, I have absolutely no plan in mind if we find ourselves needing to do something.
We decided to head over to the park for a couple of practice tracks with Elf and some play time for Caden and Ryley. Our first track was going well until we heard Caden’s high pitch sob that indicates something is seriously wrong. Thankfully Elf was already headed in the kids’ direction so Dan was able to throw the hot dog party for Elf while I tried to calm Caden down after a very nasty fall on rocks that bruised his back and bottom. Over to the playground for some fun, I met a woman who asked several questions about service dogs while her kids petted Elf (who as usual absolutely adored the attention as if he doesn’t get any attention at home). I was relatively pleased by the woman’s questions until she asked if Elf was Caden’s seizure dog. I replied no, actually Caden has autism to which she replied oh I’m so sorry and then walked away. I’ve never had the apologetic response before and honestly I had no idea how to respond. Anything that renders me speechless is definitely worthy of reflection and I have a feeling I will be rethinking this one for days to come.
Track 2 ended very similarly to track 1. The kids and I were walking back through the parking lot to hide when Caden fell and busted his knee. Elf found us rather quickly but I have a feeling it was more by sound (yep the high pitch sobbing sound again) than scent and he was probably thinking that getting the hot dog party just gets easier and easier with this family. By the way, the hot dog party is absolutely killing me…strangely vegetarian hot dogs don’t seem to equal a party for Elf so at the moment I am trying to be okay with kosher hot dogs.
Back home bonding time went just about as well as tracking did. Take 1 had Caden and Elf bonking heads to which Caden swears Elf hit him. Take 2 had Caden and Elf running up stairs together to share their excitement over playing Frisbee (thankfully Elf loves to play Frisbee and is so great about giving the Frisbee back to Caden each time) and them tripping over each other; Caden swears Elf pushed him. Interestingly Elf is starting to recognize the high pitch sob as being one that needs attention—then again we had plenty of opportunities to “mark behavior” today. We are having Elf give kisses when Caden starts sobbing as that does seem to serve as a distraction that doesn’t increase Caden’s anxiety or frustration while also not diminishing pain or other feelings that he may have at that moment.
It is amazing how quickly life resumed after returning home, somehow a re-entry adjustment period would have been nice. But then again I guess if we had the luxury of down time or adjustment time or sleep then we wouldn’t be dealing with autism would we?