Saturday, November 01, 2008

A Separate Peace

I was a terrible mother today.

You know I love Oliver, right? I mean the kid is wonderful. And I certainly don't know how he can keep being so smiley and happy when his mother is not such a pleasure to be around sometimes. But here's the thing: Oliver makes lots of vocal noises. And sometimes he does it more than others. And sometimes it just feels so. very. extreme. And I can't take it. So I tell him to knock it off even though I know that he is doing it for some sensory reason that is necessary at the moment. Even though I know telling him to knock it off won't really help because he can't knock it off. Still. It drives me crazy. There is no way of getting around it. I get impatient. And frustrated. Then angry. And then I just have to not be around him for awhile.

I have sister who must have noise going on around her at all times. Seriously. The TV is always on at her house even if no one is watching it. She even sleeps with the TV on. But I'm not like that. Noise gets to me. The first thing I do when I walk into my sister's house is turn the tv off. She waits till I turn around and turns it back on. We don't visit much. I need the quiet. Too much commotion, too much noise and I don't cope well. So here you have a woman who requires calm, peaceful, quiet to relax and she just happens to have son who cannot sit still most of the time. A son who balances precariously on the edge of furniture. And a son who is always on at a low hum, sometimes louder.

I suspect that there is nothing to be done about this. Oliver and I will always have this struggle because what we need to feel at peace is at odds. And luckily, for me, the intensity of his sound track ebbs and flows. I used to think that my greatest challenge as Oliver's mother was patience. I am not a patient person. But one can learn patience. I am learning patience. This other thing though? The learning curve just seems a little steeper.


  1. Oh, please. It goes without saying that you LOVE Oliver.

    Our kids have REALLY PERSISTENT QUIRKS. They'll drive ya crazy. Henry wants us to repeat so many things after him (lines from movies, descriptions of stories...) and leaves so many flipping pieces of paper all over my house and watches so many dvds, or just PREVIEWS for future dvds, over and over that it just drives me to madness sometimes. Even though you look him in the eye and know that he just really NEEDS you to repeat this stuff back to him...

    Some days, when I have this (literal) pain in my neck, or am feeling like crap from eating too much Halloween candy, I just have to say "you're making me really frustrated with this. I need a break!" They need to learn that people (even moms) need a break sometimes!

  2. There we go again, your description of Oliver could be a description of Frog. Even as I type this he is running back and forth in the hallway shrieking while shredding a tortilla from lunch and scattering it liberally about. That combined with the tearing and throwing of paper and the spitting of water everywhere is enough to drive me into screaming mommy mode - I never wanted to be a screaming mommy, but sometimes you just can't help it.

    But if our big "failing" in this Extreme Mothering Autism Edition is needing a break from the noise and chaos - count us among the Super Moms.

    Our kids know we love them. And they are lucky that we are self-aware enough to know our own triggers and know what we need to stay sane! Take care of yourself, it's good for Oliver too :0)

    From Frog's Mom's bag of tricks -

    1. Stop what I'm doing for awhile and vocalize with him - sometimes this shortens the time he needs to spend being loud.

    2. Get outside where he voice is not bouncing off the walls.

    3. See if some deep pressure or other proprioceptive work fills the sensory need to be loud. (Frog sometimes uses his voice - echo location - to locate his body)

    3. Put on some classical music. Sometimes it distracts him. Sometimes it distracts me (I focus on the music instead of on his sounds).

    4. Tag a family member or babysitter and get out of the house by myself for one hour. If I'm especially stressed I head for our local steam room and have an hour of quiet time without any interruptions.

    5. Put on upbeat music, pour a glass of wine (in the evening) and dance. He either joins in the dancing or finds something else to do.

  3. Reading this just made me wonder if you guys still do your HANDLE exercises. We don't really. But every once and a while I see a need for some. There is one in particular (think it was called the turtle) where I put Andrew over my back so that he is arching his back over mine. Was that one of yours? Anyway, I think the point of it is to open up his lungs more so that he gets more air. According to Judith one of the reasons he vocalizes is to bring in more air to his lungs. When Andrew engages in more vocal stim than usual I always do this with him. I think it does help too. I think it helps with the volume of his speech too. And if not, he still loves doing it and we play a "where is Andrew?" game that he cracks up laughing at.

  4. A Pizza Hut, A Pizza Hut, Kentucky Fried Chicken and a Pizza Hut.... MCDONALDS MCDONALDS, Kentucky Fried chicken and aaaaaaa PIZZA HUT! WE HAVE BEEN SINGING THIS FOR OVER A MONTH!!!! You post was too funny and so close to home:)

  5. Like you I love and understand my son. But in the same way his body needs to make noise and touch everything and move mine needs to be left alone be quiet and sill. We both (me and Egg) have very conflicting sensory issues. My son is not home schooled and I still struggle with this, 15 minutes after he is home I am just as stressed as when he was home all day. But you are with Oliver all the time.