Sunday, November 02, 2008
The room Jack will be moving into was our junk room. It was basically completely full of boxes, baby gear, toys, clothes and other various bits and pieces. Everything in it has had to be moved elsewhere or thrown out. To find space we have had to be both smarter about how we store things, and brutal in culling stuff out of just about every other room in the house.
We are now a month in, and the process still has a long way to go. Tomorrow however Jack’s new room should finally be cleared out. We then need to organise drapes for the window, paint a subtle feature wall, install air-conditioning and buy furniture.
We then need to work on clearing out the guest room – which is now full of boxes, baby gear, toys, clothes and other various bits and pieces…
After a reasonable couple days, Jack had some serious meltdowns today. Whole body shaking, stamping his feet and running on the spot like some possessed dancer from Fame, eye bulging screams, and body flings with no regard for health or safety. Totally and utterly, mindlessly out of control. It was never going to be a good day – but an inadvertent serving of colour 110 obviously did not help.
Distractions were no use as Jack would become instantly and stubbornly fixated on the one thing, chanting it over and over like a mantra as tears flooded down his face. His obsessive single-mindedness today surpassed anything I had seen with him before. It also left us with nowhere to go, since Jack would accept nothing other than what he was demanding, and we won’t give Jack want he wants if he throws a tantrum to get it. More often than not it was Jack exhausting himself that abated the behaviour, for a short while anyway.
Of interest was that Jack’s over sensitivity was really ramped up today. If he walked from shade into sunlight he would recoil, shield his eyes and cry. If he went from the cool house out into the heat of the day he would complain. He complained about his food being too hot when it was barely lukewarm, and complained about his bath water being too hot when it also wasn’t.
Yesterday while playing mini golf we had a gaggle of kids catch up to us and play through. Each time any one of them came near Jack would have an obvious panic attack. He couldn’t concentrate on the golf, stopped playing, and if he thought he might be getting in their way he would blindly flee, almost falling down stairs at one point.
It is not a lack of confidence, or a lack of socialisation. It is more than that. He really has problems coping. That is both with social interactions, and more generally with anything unexpected in life. It is not as obvious if he is healthy, feed and rested – but if any one of those areas isn’t quite perfect, we get days like today.
On a more positive note I was not left feeling like a failure of a parent today - more just worried and feeling sorry for Jack.Posted by Doug at 10:43 PM
Sunday, November 09, 2008
Jack had a really good day and a half over the last week – the rest of the time he was very up and down.
He is still sleeping in his own bed – and while he complains, he doesn’t put a lot of effort into doing so. The next step is to get Al out of the room.
Jack’s new room is finally cleared. We are now trying to pick a color for a feature wall. We thought we had it– but are no longer so sure after trying out some sample paint. The wall and carpet colors are making the task quite difficult.
I seem to be flavor of the month with Jack at the moment – he is seeking me out to come and play with him far more than usual. While nice, it has increased the number of interruptions I get while trying to work or do things around the house. It also shows up my sometimes limited patience for his overly pedantic type of play.
Toilet training is about to come to a head. We have been skirting around it for many many months, encouraging and giving Jack opportunities to go without nappies, reading him books on the topic, etc. Al is now quite stressed about it, and Jack is still as adamant as ever that he won’t stop using nappies. Al’s been following the school of thought that these things come to a natural conclusion if the child is given the time, space and freedom to make the decisions for themselves when they are ready. It is a school Jack doesn’t seem to attend.
We are just going to have to force the issue – as we did with him having to sleep in his own bed.
We have started by making him sit on the toilet each morning when he first gets up, and again just before his bath. We will keep increasing the frequency of how often he has to sit on the toilet as we go along.
It is related to what I mentioned last week – Jack not coping. This time it is with change, and in many ways, the risk of failure.
We are having a lot of trouble encouraging Jack to do anything new at the moment. In some ways he has really gone backwards from the little kid who enthusiastically sucked up anything new we introduced him to. His drawing has reverted to just scribbles, and if we try to encourage anything more he abandons pen and paper. He knows his letters and numbers very well – but if we suggest he try and recognise written words he gets really antsy, says it is too hard for Jack, and steadfastly refuses to even try.
He has been learning how to bounce balls – using a large exercise ball of Al’s to get used to the motions. Whenever we have tried to suggest he bounce a smaller ball he refuses as it is “too hard for Jack”. This morning I basically forced him to at least try – and by lunch time he was bouncing a smaller ball better than his mum could.
I am hoping that encouragement mixed in with a level of insistence will help Jack more forward past some of these hurdles, since encouragement alone hasn’t been working.
One last observation – when relaxed or not concentrating, Jack has very clear and articulate speech. If you introduce new words, or correct his grammar, he will repeat what you have said and then often incorporate the changes into his vocabulary. If in conversation Jack suddenly becomes aware that you are focused on what he is saying, he will lose his train of thought, his words slur and his volume drops, he can’t form complete sentences, becomes very awkward and struggles to make himself understood. Often he will just trail off into silence, his conversation abandoned. We notice at these times he can also just parrot you – repeating everything you say verbatim. He’ll do this almost constantly when playing with his friend Damon.
Discussing this tonight, Al and I agree that we are going to need to get some external help on the best ways to help Jack with his fears.Posted by Doug at 11:30 PM