Flat Tire Gateway.

Night before last, our SUV got a flat tire (luckily at home).  With daddy in trial, and deadlines to meet, it won’t be repaired until the weekend.  This is the only vehicle Tootles travels in because he is terrified of riding in anything else – period.  We do have a truck and another car that my husband drives.  We put a DVD player in the truck years ago, just in case I had to use it for back up with Toots.

I began preparing Toots for the transition with a little “oral social story”.  He’s ridden in the truck before, but not for over a year, so the fear is strong and the disruption of routine, well, not good.

When he first heard about it, the nervousness in his face was clear.  He did his best to be brave. “You can watch DVDs in the black,” he said.  “Yes,” I told him.  He picked a DVD.  He talked about how he did not have to ride in the car – only the truck.  I suggested we could pretend it was “Gravedigger” and it would be fun to go in the “monster” truck.

Why this is so popular is a mystery to me.

I moved all the essentials (some baby wipes and a cooler) to the truck.  I moved the “golden” DVD with Oswald (Nick Jr.) on it.  We were set.

In the morning, Toots kept looking out the window and remarking how he would watch “Oswald” in the black truck.  I reassured him that the DVD was ready to be put on and we would leave soon.

Here I come now…

Foolish, foolish me.  Oblivious.  Unprepared.

We left through the front door on time.  Oh wait.  That’s on time if we’re in his SUV.

Toots was in a good mood.  He decided that his “security blankies” for the ride would be his Ford Mustang car and “Rip” his chainsaw from Handy Manny.  (Sometimes, he takes  toys just to keep him calm – not to play with.)  He dutifully carried the Mustang (I carried Rip) to the truck, placed it inside, hiked up and in the seat.

The seat belt was too tight.  I had to adjust it to maximum looseness. But, I had the golden DVD sitting on the console.  As soon as he saw it, he put himself in a loop.  “Mommy to put the DVD in.  Mommy – spell Oswald!  Sing the Oswald song mommy.  Put in the DVD.  Wanna watch.  Watch your DVD.  Put it on mommy.  Turn it on!  On.  On.  2-M-0-4-3-N  (A new soothing mechanism, saying a string of random letters and numbers)”

No pressure.  This went on while I loosened the seat belt. Then, I had to adjust the driver’s seat from “Yao Ming” to “Eva Longoria” which meant adjusting the steering wheel, mirrors and seat back tilt.  The non-stop mantra of putting that DVD in continued.  I relinquished and turned around to put the DVD in the player.

Source of my discontent.

The DVD player is on the cab ceiling in the back seat of the truck.  I had to contort my body like a Chinese acrobat to find the spot to insert the DVD.  Turns out it was on the passenger side in the back, on the ceiling.


I will spare you my feelings about that design.  The excitement of finally getting the DVD in was lost on both of us only 10 seconds later, when we discovered it had no sound.

No help and lots of dust.

I tried to figure it out.  The front console was no help.  I hadn’t driven this beast for over a year and could not remember.  I pushed all the buttons, tried scanning the radio for the correct frequency – nothing.

Do you know how I felt in that moment of realization?  If you are a parent of a child like mine, I know you know how I felt.  And 3-2-1, meltdown.

My ride to Toots’ school is about 30 minutes.  We hadn’t even left the driveway.  Tears were streaming down his face.  He wasn’t screaming or yelling.  He was non-stop “looping” with tears.  He knew it and so he, kindly, added in an apology – “Mommy, turn up the volume!  Turn off the music!  Fix it! I’m sorry mommy!” etc.

I tried to explain that I didn’t know how to fix it and that we were now going to be late for school.  His response.  “No.”   Have you tried to reason with a child in the middle of a meltdown?  He can’t process.  He put up a force field, chanting, with tunnel-vision and tears.  It was pretty good, in terms of meltdowns.  It was also the most painfully long 30 minute ride I’ve had in a long time.  I texted ahead to the tutor that we would be late. His teacher, tutor and I anticipated discipline problems.  His eyes were dry when he went in to school.

When I picked him up, there hadn’t been a single time out!  He was happy.  Meanwhile, after sitting in the parking lot for 20 minutes, I had fixed the problem (set the frequency by adjusting the menu on the DVD screen from the back seat using the buttons on the BACK SEAT DVD PLAYER !!).

I wondered if being the last one into class, without all the commotion as everyone gets settled in the morning, contributed to his success.  I had always thought of this as a possibility in passing but never really thought of taking action on it before.  We’re going to take action by experimenting in bringing him to school on time and then, as last one in, to see if there is an effect on his behavior.  Who knows?  Maybe this meltdown will be the gateway to a breakthrough.  Giving the little guy an accommodation to come in later than the rest of the class may be just the ticket to improve focus and responsiveness.  Silver linings anyone?

Happy Mother’s Day Weekend to all the Mommies in Bloggy-land!

May all your Mother’s Day Wishes Come True!


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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7 Responses to Flat Tire Gateway.

  1. Mom2MissK says:

    Car switches SUCK. I guess, on the bright side, you husband does not appear to drive around in a pig-stye on four wheels. Mine? Well, let’s just say I’m usually lucky to find the car seat under all the crap.

    LM’s school has actually been trying the whole dismissal thing with a different timing than her peers… the teacher told me that they have been having LM get her backpack ready while the other kids are starting free play — that way LM is not overwhelmed by the activity by the cubbies and she has the incentive (getting to free play) to complete her task in a timely manner.

    So, with that change in place, I was told yesterday that LM “chose” not to bring her backpack and sweater home yesterday. This was after an event earlier this week where she “chose” not to get her mail from her mail box. Yeah… it’s working like a charm. Hopefully T has a better experience!

    And happy mother’s day to you, my friend. Sending you a virtual bouquet!

    • solodialogue says:

      Aww! Thanks for the Mama’s Day wish and virtual bouquet!

      Implementing a new idea like this takes a little time. Each time we start Toots with something new, he gets caught off-guard and makes a little mid-step. Then, he catches on after a couple days and ta-da!! He gets it!! Remember to give her time! And add a social story with it before and after school. You will see results!! I know it!
      Happy Mothers Day Weekend!! xoxo

  2. Yep, those silver linings come out at the most curious times. Glad that the meltdown wasn’t too bad, but driving during a meltdown is one of the toughest things to do as a mom. Hearts to you. Happy Mother’s Day to you too!

  3. Lizbeth says:

    We have one of those DVD players on the ceiling of the car. If you loose the remote you are screwed. I’ve been able to operate it from the front seat but I wouldn’t recommend it. Gotta love those safety features that won’t let you work the DVD player from the front panel when you’re in Drive…..Lets just say I had a distinct advantage to being tall but even then it was rough and ended in tears.

  4. utkallie says:

    We’ve learned it’s best to show up a tad late to things and avoid the chaos. Both of my kids do better walking into situations where everyone is already seated and settled. I hate being late so this has been a huge adjustment for me but it’s worth it.

    Ha! The Grave Digger Hot Wheels Monster Truck! Cam asks for it every time the commercial comes on =)

    Happy Mother’s Day to you too!

  5. Way to find a silver lining in there! It does make sense that being either the first or last one in a classroom would ease anxiety, just as some kids are better boarding a plane first, and others need to go on at the very last minute. Ours are pre-boarders, but for your boy an accommodation that he arrives late might be just the ticket.

    You made me smile with the car switch-up. We’ll be buying our friends’ car when they leave here in a couple of months, and neither of my kids will have an easy time understanding that Miss M’s car will be Mummy’s now.

  6. eof737 says:

    ღ˚ •。* ♥ ˚ ˚✰˚ ˛★* 。 ღ˛° 。* °♥ ˚ • ★ *˚ .ღ 。*˛˚ღ •˚ ˚…Sending sprinkles of Love to You: Happy Mother’s Day! ˚ ✰* ★˚. ★ *˛ ˚♥* ✰。˚ ˚ღ。* ˛˚ ♥ 。✰˚* ˚ ★ღ ˚ 。✰ •* ˚ ♥

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