It’s Raining Tears.

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.

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About solodialogue

I'm a lawyer and the mom of a 6 year old boy with autism. I work part time and spend the rest driving here and there and everywhere for my son's various therapies. Instead of trying cases, I now play Pac-man and watch SpongeBob. I wear old sweaters and jeans and always, always flat shoes to run after my son. Yeah, it's different but I wouldn't change it for anything. The love of my child is the most powerful, beautiful and rewarding aspect of my life.
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15 Responses to It’s Raining Tears.

  1. Amanda says:

    He also advised me that the number “4” is scary. I had no idea.

    LOL…

    Yesterday I was walking with my son past a bush that had been trimmed into 3 globes, one of top of the other. My son said, if this were mine it only have 2 globes or 4. I don’t like uneven numbers.

    He couldn’t explain why, though.

  2. Amanda says:

    About the meltdowns. Whenever he’d have one we’d take him to a room that was as quiet and devoid of as many stimuli as possible. It was no use staying with him and comforting him, that only made the meltdown worst and longer.

    It was not a punishment and he knew that and of course he could come out at any time, which he did after he had simmered down. Now, whenever it gets too much he goes to his safe room all by himself. (And slams the door really hard for good measure.)

    • solodialogue says:

      A safe room sounds good. I don’t have one though. We do try to keep it quiet when they happen and the rocking motion is very soothing. (A good hard door slam is good for everybody, one in a while!)

  3. My method for dealing with meltdowns? Ride it out like a Cat 5 hurricane.

  4. C... says:

    Some meltdowns don’t give you room to try and reason or even try to talk it out. Now that my son is older and his meltdowns are less and less I take for granted that he communicates well enough to tell me his needs. But there are times when he melts down that I can’t figure out where to even begin because the meltdown comes on out of nowhere and I don’t even see what started it.

    • solodialogue says:

      So true that sometimes there is no room to reason or talk it out. I know what you mean about less meltdowns. My little guy’s meltdowns have decreased but I still have no idea what it is that really is setting him off. I wish we had a manual sometimes…

  5. Broot says:

    I’ll come back to this one… I need to think about it. 🙂

  6. If it makes you feel better, I’m not fond of the number 4 either — that and seven… and 11 for that matter (because 4 + 7 = 11) I can remember numbers really well, but if I get a number (for example a phone number) that has 4 or 7 in it — I cannot remember it… I find it really frustrating! No… I’m not making fun. I really don’t like those numbers! :-p

    Gosh… the meltdowns. The key for us has been redirection — if the melt down has not gotten so severe already that redirection is even lost. Little Miss can often be soothed by books or videos, so I have a stack of books on hand always and Netflix is only a couple button pushes away. When we go that route, I usually hold her and give her deep pressure squeezes (if she allows it) or I put her in her special chair.

    I think that like Amanda says, it’s works best to remove the extra sensory stimulation — books and videos help Little Miss to get into her own world where she can re-center. The stimulation from those items replaces all the other things out there that are getting to her.

    • solodialogue says:

      Yeah, sometimes redirection is unavailable. 😦 Such has been the case for the last couple of nights. Deep pressure squeezes sound like a good idea though. He gets a bit of that when we are on the rocker. Thanks for the suggestions, Karla. Your insight is always so valuable. Thank you!

  7. eof737 says:

    Interesting, as the number 4 is bad luck in some cultures… There is a lot going on with Tootles and tapping into it would be amazing… Hope you are doing better! 🙂

  8. Broot says:

    Here are my musings (and why I didn’t respond right away… I had to sort it in my head, first.)

    The question becomes are those numbers and colours always the scary ones? Is your hair pink always and only when you won’t/can’t do what he asks? (That could be synesthesia.)

    Does reciting the scary colours make them worse or better? (i.e. you refused to “talk” numbers or colours… did that make them go away faster? Or does naming them make them disappear?)

    And the other thing that I was thinking was: since brains on the spectrum seem to be associatively and visually linked, are those colours associated visually with something he doesn’t like? (that’s not synesthesia, as it would change depending on the association.)

    The other thing I was wondering was, if it is synesthesia, what does he “see” when you “talk numbers and colours”? Does your tone of voice change the intensity of the colour to make it scarier or nicer? I bet those colours were in the video – and yet, he didn’t respond the same way to them there.

    And finally, (although I don’t have to tell you this, probably, cuz as a lawyer, you’d know), you have to be careful about asking him the questions about his numbers and colours. Open ended questions that don’t provide hints as to what you’re looking for are good, because you don’t want to put ideas in his head. 🙂

    I’m not diagnosing nor am I trying to label… I’m just asking questions to think about if it happens again, because it might help you calm the tears faster. 🙂

    • solodialogue says:

      You are so nice and sweet to think about this and to help. I am greatly appreciative!! Tonight my hair is brown. I think reciting the scary colors through the You Tube video posted makes them less scary. If I refuse to talk about them, it gets worse. I am unsure about the associations. He felt calmed by the video. I did not really say them – when he said them he was upset and usually is. Colors are an everyday occurrence. Multiple times per day, he asks colors of objects when he knows the answers – he often wants to change the color of the object. Even on the video I posted – the very beginning (opening credit if you will) is in red. He asks what color it is. Then answers his own question with “red”. Then he argues with himself and yells “green.” I know, sometimes if we stare at a color long enough and blink, we see a different color but I don’t know if this is what is going on. I am very confused by his preoccupation with color. (?) All help on this issue welcome!! 🙂 Thank you for your kindness.

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