There was just too much going on this week. We had such a great time. It had to come to an end, didn’t it? The little guy had his big graduation. He’s been watching his mama hobbling around. He’s fighting a little cold. Mama’s been busy at work.
The dam broke. The tears began. The meltdown came.
I finally sat down Friday night to chat on Twitter. That lasted – oh – I’d say about 4-5 minutes before the tears started freely rolling. “What’s wrong?” he asks me, meaning, of course that I was to ask this of him. Yet, I already knew he would not/could not explain it to me.
He began by trying to gesture the number four by holding up four fingers and asking me, “What number is that?” He knows full well what number he is holding up. If I respond to this with “4”, then he becomes argumentative with me. “No! Five!” he will inevitably yell and he will continue yelling over my voice when I try to respond. So, I do not respond other than to tell him, “I’m not talking numbers or colors with you.”
Clearly, that was the wrong answer. Numbers and colors, They seem to be both visual antagonizers and soothers to him. I had now taken away his perseveration through his typical meltdowns. So, he begins a soft sob. Like a light rain, it comes down, slowly, quietly. You can try to wait it out. But if you are good at reading the weather, you should know by now, the storm cannot turn back. It is coming.
The sobs become deeper. The clouds are black now. Pretty soon, the quiet has given way to deep gasps for air between eeking out those tears that are now streaming down his face. “Green!” he yells at me. I ignore it. “Red! Red!” he yells trying -yes, not avoiding- trying to make eye contact with me. I ignore it.
“Wanna rock!” he yells. “Mommy to rock with you.” he says. I always go to the rocking chair with him. On the chair, I rock him through a quarter bag of wipees with him as he cries and cries. In the midst of it all, he always has to throw in that he needs to go to the doctor or the hospital, particularly scary thoughts of whether he is physically ill cross my mind. I suspect and later, conclude, that he, consistent with previous occasions, does this purely for the attention. I tell him everything is okay but I will not talk about colors or numbers with him.
He did not like my response.
More tears. More random colors recited. ”Gold! Silver! Black!” Big crying.
What he did manage to tell me through the tears is that colors are scary and apparently, his perception is that mommy’s hair is either brown or pink. He also advised me that the number “4” is scary. I had no idea.
This scariness must last only through the meltdown. Afterward, I checked. His perception is that my hair is brown. (I need a hair appointment). In the middle of it all, I wondered if his inability to communicate with words seems to be coupled with some kind of color and number usage distortion that scares him and causes him to cry. This meltdown went on for an hour. Toward the end, I decided to google to see if I could change his reaction by providing a visual display of colors. I used my phone and discovered there is this very soothing video of colors with a little music and narration. I pushed play.
At first, he wanted to argue with the narrator about the colors. I ignored the attempt at arguing and as he watched, he became soothed and comfortable. He liked the background music. It caused whatever scared him to back off. Hopefully, this will hold us over as a kind of band-aid until our neurology consult in September.
This video performed wonders. If you have a little one who has difficulties and uses colors during meltdown, you might try want to give it a try:
What is your method of dealing with the meltdowns? I hope you can share. Often, I feel so lost and like I am just simply struggling to get through them. Then, looking back, I wonder how I could have handled it differently. I’m trying to be understanding. It just isn’t easy.