Friday, October 24, 2008

An Embarassing Meltdown Moment

My son has had three meltdowns in front of his school since April. I'm lucky that I've only gotten offers of help or sympathetic looks while this is happening. Mostly, I think all three of the meltdowns happened because he often has trouble transitioning from school to home and because on those particular three days he faced circumstances that were overwhelming.

Our last meltdown happened after school on Tuesday. I think he was upset because we forgot to tell him ahead of time that he would be in his MiCi room all day instead of spending the morning in his third grade classroom before going to his special education room in the afternoon. The third graders were taking the standardized MEAP test. My son takes a modified version, so he needed to be in the special education room which was the best place to take the specialized version.

He struggled with the first and second days of the MEAP testing although he didn't have a meltdown after school. That happened the third day when we forgot to warn him ahead of time about the change. He does better when he gets advance warning about changes.

I was not expecting frustrations to come flying at me the minute I saw him. The minute I spoke to my guy I knew that a meltdown was almost inevitable. He told me to go away. So I walked away for about 100 feet or so before returning, but that wasn't enough in his opinion. He wanted me to walk all the way home and then come back. It would have taken me five minutes or so. Sometimes we walk to school. Sometimes we drive. That day I happened to walk, not knowing what the future held.

I might have accommodated my son, but I had to pick up my kindergartner. So I made an attempt with my son trailing me and screaming for me to go back home. My younger son's teacher said she could keep him awhile so that I could calm my older one down. So I left my little one for a bit while I tried to calm my other one, but nothing I said or did would do unless I granted his request. So, I gave up trying to calm down the older one and picked my little guy up while my furious one tried to prevent me from doing so.

None of that was embarrassing to me. I'm doing my best to get used to meltdowns in public. They are not fun, but most of the time we manage or "muddle through" as I sometimes like to say. I managed to get my son to walk with my little guy for a little ways. However, he plopped himself belly down on the grass and sobbed before we even left the school grounds. I knelt down to rub his back and talk in a soothing voice while making sure my little guy stayed safe and nearby.

After about a minute of this, I noticed an awful smell. It didn't take long for me to discover that I had about a six inch trail of dog poo (between my ankle and knee) on my jeans. Ugh. I was so busy trying to shepherd both boys through the chaos, that I hadn't paid attention to where I was kneeling! This is where the embarrassment comes in...

My son still refused to come with me, but I couldn't stand having poo on my leg, so I walked home as fast as I could with my little one in tow. Then, I jumped in my van and picked up the older one who finally was ready to go home. Yes, I left him for a few minutes, but I was pretty sure he wasn't going anywhere. Kidnappers are more likely target an easy to claim victim rather than a tantruming ten year old who wouldn't budge from his spot.

The secretary was with him when I returned. I felt sheepish that I hadn't told her what was going on. However, I really stunk of dog crap and I've always been uncomfortable around the secretary who is not exactly a warm, fuzzy person. I thanked her quickly and guided my charge to our mini van.

Most of the time my son's meltdowns have happened at home, so having one happen in public is sort of hard--especially when my vehicle isn't nearby. I suppose I could have handled matters a little better, but I muddled through it the best I could. The important thing is that my story has a happy ending.

I was able to get us all home safely. My son calmed down, and I was able to disinfect my icky jeans and put on a clean pair. If another public meltdown occurs, I know I'll handle things a little better while being more than aware of where I sit or stand. There's nothing quite like learning from one's mistakes!


Casdok said...

Very glad to hear all ended well. With each melt down you will both learn and hopefully things will get easier.
C does not have so many public ones these days thankfully as at 6 foot the are very frightening for people who are near by.
Was the dog poo actually on the school grounds??

kristi said...

My goodness. I would have lost it. You sound like you kept it together pretty well!

db said...

My nephew is in the process of "Trying to be diagnosed" with autism, or something related. I can totally relate to the melt downs. Its hard. But it sounds to me, like you've done a really good job handling it.

J said...

Casdok: Yes, the poo was on a patch of grass between the school parking lot and the sidewalk.

Kristi: Thanks. I did my best.

Db: Welcome and thanks. I hope your nephew gets a diagnosis soon. The process can be difficult.

Anonymous said...

My fourteen year old autistic son seems to have outgrown his meltdowns at school and home.Last year he was on the verge of being labeled a bully at his school.He has always been one or two years behind his peers in good and bad behavioural milestones at school.It is hard not to be embarassed at times.Even harder, not to care like you do for your child.It sounds like you are willing to go to any length to help your child.Hang in there.

Marla said...

It will get better on time. We can't do everything perfect to avoid them from happening. But, we learn from them and it sounds like you are doing just that. Hugs.
You are such a good mom.