Thursday, July 07, 2011

Unstructured Ups and Downs

I have done my best this summer to keep to a very strict schedule:


In the past, Joey was a fairly flexible little guy. As a baby, he was happy a clam until he got really hungry, and since I was pretty regular with the food, he was all good, no matter what was going on.

Then he got a little bigger, and he needed to know what was coming. So we would talk about what would be happening that day, but we could be fairly vague. "Going on an adventure" was fine, he knew something fun was coming and it didn't much matter what. As long as the food came on time- not just "eventually"- he was all good.

Then he shifted to his obsession with clocks. However, as long as he knew where he was going, who would be there, and when to go, he was good. And life rolled merrily on for school. Not so much at home.

Here, life is more fluid. That is OK when you're only awake and home for, say, four hours; but when that fluidity becomes an all-day venture, it overwhelms Joey. His anxiety from his wild school year hasn't ebbed one scunce. So to help him out, I have a very strict schedule.

Activity- lunch-pool.

Deviations result in increased anxiety, for better or for worse. Today we had a movie party with one his old classmates, and he was a bundle of nerves all day. He hs a birthday party to attend on Saturday, but kept insisting it was today. Nothing we said or did would change his view: the party was today, and it was today, and today was the party, and there is a party at D's today, and he was going to miss the party... and from there, the world started ending. Only we had discussed in detail what today would be, since rain was in the air: relax with Peep and Angry Birds, lunch with Grandma, movie party.

But it wasn't activity-lunch-pool. So all was doomed.

He was happy at lunch. He was happy with his friend here. But all the minutes around those events? That poor child worried himself into a frenzy.

On top of that, Andy is having a hard time.

We have a lot of trouble getting Andy to eat. He is very picky with his food (though we are definitely back to "picky" and not in the realm of "food aversive/neophobe" anymore, hallelujah), he has a slow-emptying stomach (so he gets full fast), and on top of that, we're having a growth spurt. That child has no reserves left. If he fail to eat, if I don't push the water and the snacks, he get terribly thin and get headaches fast. He's already sound-sensitive, so you can imagine what a headache does for that child. Screaming ball of flesh. Without much flesh.

I am in a Catch-22 world of food here. Andy needs every calorie I can pack onto him and into him. Joey, with his movement and stamina issues on top of inheriting my gloriously bad metabolism, needs fewer calories than most kids his age, and is already having weight issues. We're working on creative ways to sneak Andy food, but it isn't easy. If Andy has food, Joey wants it to. Trying to explain to them both why Andy needs food and Joey doesn't hasn't really helped. I'm sure I'll get plenty of suggestions, but trust me, we've been through most ideas and failed miserably with them all. Andy is sensitive about being "skinny" and Joey is sensitive about being "fat," That's quite enough to create a roller-coaster ride without anything else going on.

You know, I love being able to squish and snuggle those boys all day long, but I'll be glad next week went both are at summer programs, with predictability and schedule and everything that makes them more comfortable. And I can sneak a milkshake to Andy in the mornings.


Stephenie said...

I stumbled upon your blog and wanted to say hello. Oh how I understand the need for routine. All of our worst days are the unstructured ones with my ASD kiddo. Which is hard for me, as I would be happier to go with the flow.

Joeymom said...

I do miss days when I would get up, think of something to do, and just go do it. Seriously.

Stimey said...

it's so hard to balance the needs of more than one child, no matter who they are. You do a really good job of that, you really do. Hugs.