Saturday, July 11, 2015

When Special Needs Child Rearing Differs from Typical Child Rearing

Sometimes I vent about my kids and their behavior.  If you don't have a special needs kid, you might say, "Well, that's all kids.  My kids do that, too."  And I don't dispute that there are similarities.  But I can almost guarantee that the scope of the behavior varies greatly.

As you may have guessed, I am thinking of a particular situation we are dealing with right now. (read: enduring)

Yesterday, Shelby County Arc was scheduled to have a pool party.  When it comes to outings, we need to tread carefully about introducing the idea to our kids.  Drew especially struggles with going places.  So, I broke the news that we had a pool party last night.  Amazingly, he took the news really well.  He even tried on his new swim trunks without coaxing.  Unfortunately, the weather was bad and the party was postponed to tonight.  He was in his swim trunks and I had to tell him the party was cancelled.  Again, he took the news well and changed into his regular clothes.

As he often does on Saturday, he started obsessing about going to church on Sunday.  He follows me around the house, saying, "I'm not going to church on Sunday.  I can't open the door for the ladies.  Mens go first.  Church is cancelled."  We assure him that he is going to church on Sunday, and he can open the door for the ladies.  It doesn't matter what we say, he continues this conversation over and over.  He asks who will be there.  The expected answer is "Lofty"  Who is Lofty, you might ask?  Lofty is Drew's imaginary friend, the crane character from Bob the Builder.  We think he relates to Lofty because Lofty is hesitant and anxious about things, just like Drew.

So, we were already on this treadmill conversation and had been for a couple hours at least, when I let it slip that we are going to the pool party tonight.  So, added to the conversation about church, he says he can't go swimming, he hates swimming.  Lofty will not be there.  And he hates Little Caesars.  Wait, what?  What does Little Caesar's have to do with it?  Well, a few times, we stopped at Little Caesars for a Hot and Ready pizza and breadsticks.  So, now we have to do it every time we go swimming, or a meltdown ensues with self-injurious behavior and all.

I keep reassuring him that he can do it, and he will have fun.  I made him a schedule and showed him pictures of past pool parties to remind him  that he likes pool parties.  But still he follows me around as I try to do some household chores, going through his script, so close that he bumps into me if I turn around too fast.  It is now twenty minutes before five.  We have almost two hours until we leave for the pool party.  His behavior will escalate with his anxiety as the pool party approaches.  Would it be easier to forgo these outings?  You bet.  But we know that he will have fun and have a sense of pride that he actually was about to do it, just like we told him.  I will update later with pictures of his success.  Hopefully.