Another Meltdown

This is why I write semi-anonymously. This is why there are no pictures of Ben on my blog. I don’t have anything to hide. I tell it like it is. Today was a bad day.

Ben is now on Winter Break until January 6. He’s been doing great at school every day according to the notes coming home from his teacher. He did great during the Holiday Show, which we missed because Older Daughter is very sick and didnt want to expose everyone else. We paid for a DVD of the show, so we’ll get to see Ben’s performance later. Anyway, he’s been great at school and pushing buttons at home.

All week he has been doing things he KNOWS he’s not supposed to. We know things are different, we expect issues, we are compromising and being understanding… to a point. Some things are not okay. Full stop. Autism is not an excuse.

The button pushing in the form of shooting us with his nerf gun even though he knows Not At People or Pets or trying to break down the back gate or screaming in our faces was building all day. We tried to keep the tension level down, tried to be silly, tried to explain without anger. It didnt matter, he was building up or had built up and needed to explode. So he did.

He had been pushing all day, but around 2pm he jumped up, went outside and started beating on a plastic laundry basket with a broom handle. Not great, but better than some things he does. Then he started sweeping, he likes to see the dirt particles in the air, plus it’s a workout, vents some energy. I relaxed until I heard a bang and went to see what made the noise. He had managed to pull a piece of siding off the house.

I told him to go back inside and tried to at least get the piece off the ground and leaning against the house. Another thing that needs to be fixed… (I hate the holes in the walls and doors, the broken tiles, all the broken things.) It was too heavy for me,  Older Daughter came to help me, and we got it up and leaned against the house. Then we went back inside with Ben.

He had grabbed her phone, so she took it back from him. He then hit her. I was in my room and didnt see what happened but I heard her tell him that hitting is not okay. He kept pushing at her buttons, I dont know exactly what because I stayed in my room, but I heard her tell him to stop hitting her.

The next thing I know, he bounces onto my bed and punches me in the ear. I had my back to him so I wasnt expecting the punch. I took the full force of it, the earpiece of my glasses broke and my ear was ringing. I started crying from shock and pain. Of course, that was the worst reaction I could have at that moment as far a his meltdown goes. Calm and businesslike is the ONLY way to prevent further escalation.

Older Daughter heard me and came into my room. He ran outside and started trying to bust the gate again. She brought him in and we spent the next two and a half hours trying to keep him and ourselves safe. We even tried putting him in cool shower hoping to shock it into stopping. He wanted to go. Just go. Just run away. But that isn’t a safe solution.

He was laying on the floor kicking the front door. We have a lock that needs a key to open it from inside too, but him kicking the door jiggled the lock enough to come undone. So I had to sit against the door. Older daughter was already sitting against the door to the backyard which he’d broken the key off in the lock, so we cant lock it.

We had each tried at different times holding him, using pressure, counting, breathing…all the things we know to use. We left him alone except to prevent him from leaving the house when nothing was helping. He continued to try to push us away from the doors  and hit.

Daughter had to use the bathroom, she got up and went. He went straight to the door and outside. He broke the gate and came back in the house. It’s like the meltdown couldn’t  be officially over until the gate was broken. That’s an ugly reality of autism. For us and for him.

He’s an eleven year old kid. Sometimes he does stuff because it seems like a good idea at the time, just like any other eleven year old child. Then there’s days like today. All three of us are physically bruised. Us from being hit, him from self injury and thrashing against us trying to hold/restrain him. What is worse is the mental and emotional bruising. Older daughter and I have PTSD from the abuse of my ex, her father, so when Ben hits us, it brings that back too. Plus, getting hit isn’t fun at anytime. I can’t even imagine how trapped Ben must have felt. Or IF that’s what he felt or thought.

We second guess everything we did or didnt do with Ben after a meltdown like that. How can we handle it better? How can we prevent it? CAN we prevent it? How do we keep him safe? How are we going to keep ourselves safe as he gets bigger and stronger? Why??

I’m tired and I hurt. I hope he got whatever was bothering him out. I write about this not for sympathy, but to let other people in the same or similar situation know that they aren’t alone. Days like today can make a person feel like a failure and like the worst parent ever. It can be isolating. It hurts.

I hope tomorrow is better for him and for Older Daughter and for me.

 

(featured image is mine)

 

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44 thoughts on “Another Meltdown

  1. Must have been a very tough experience. It is the wish of every parent and caregiver to understand the causes and ways to handle these situations. But unfortunately there is no one fits all answer. I hope that the rest of the school break is uneventful. Take care.

    Liked by 3 people

  2. I’m sorry. I’m sorry he is hurting you, his mother and himself.
    I can’t offer any advice because we didn’t experience these tantrums and breakdowns.
    These kids don’t like change. And maybe he was missing school. Or upset because his mom was ill. He may be very sensitive.

    A behavioralist could possibly help.

    Could offering food, a bribe, etc help?

    I’m glad you can write and share your experience. It must help you and i know it helps others with similar situations.

    Your WordPress family is listening. And we get it.
    Take care and hang tight. The winter vacation always seemed to be a tough time for us as well. It’s just plain HARD raising kids. Period. End of story.
    Hugs

    Teri

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yep! Raising kids is hard. Period. And it NEVER ends. Ben is 11, younger is 25 and older is almost 31… At least with the girls I can tell them to go away & let me be and they mostly listen🙄
      I think his Mama being sick is causing him to act out because she’s sick. The girls were always extra rotten when I was sick when they were little. Why do kids do that?🙄😠
      I wish the bribes worked. We tried the “Santa is making his list, you better be nice”… he doesn’t get it or doesnt care.
      Thanks for always being so supportive Teri! I would feel so isolated without my WordPress peeps🥰💕💌

      Liked by 3 people

    1. Thanks for the hug! I’ll take it! 🥰
      We talk about the autism spectrum but, you’re right, people dont want to see the side of the spectrum where behaviors like Ben’s happen. A lot of parents get attacked on social media for sharing stories like this.
      I’m hoping if we ignore the gun, he’ll move on to some other mayhem. He tends to dig his heels in when he gets a reaction.🙄
      💌💌

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Thank you for sharing your story. You are brave to do so but, you are right, it does help other people in similar situations. Sorry to hear you’ve had a tough time – I hope things settle for you. Holidays are so difficult when the usual routines go out of the window. The Christmas period is a particularly strange, other-worldly time for many of us – suddenly being forced to spend time together and stuck inside due to weather conditions! It sounds like you did your absolute best to do everything you could, but we parents always beat ourselves up when these things happen. Sending love and best wishes. xxxx

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I’m so sorry to read this and so glad for you to be able to write about it, educate, and maybe help to process. So difficult when you feel helpless to help a child undergoing this type of stress and reaction.

    I do have a question, if it’s not too forward: what do his health team suggest for these reactions when he does get older and stronger? I mean I have a 14yo son who has just surpassed me in height (I’m 5’5″) and that’s only 3 years later for your Ben. Are there suggestions? Tips? Or does it come down to medication? It must be worrisome knowing how much damage could result in these outbursts…sigh.

    Wishing you and your family a Merry Christmas from Canada where we have snow being melted by rain currently. 😯 💗

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Ben is currently taking 3 different medications. He gets different therapies through his school. He goes to a special non-public autism school, so everything they do is designed to support and teach these kids how to be their best.
      His medication is prescribed through the Psychiatrist that works with the school now. We used to see someone outside the school but their advice was to send him into care. Not gonna happen unless we cant keep him safe.
      They always suggest ABA, but I’ve heard so many bad things about ABA that we dont want to use that.
      He IS getting better at self-regulation. His meltdowns ARE fewer and less frequent.
      I’m 6′ and his mama is 5’9″ so he wont be bigger than us for a while🤞 but he IS getting too big for us to keep him from running off and getting lost or hurt.
      We will ask again at his next med appointment if they have other ideas beside ABA.

      Yucky weather!! I live in SoCal and it’s been cold (for us) here. We’re expecting rain again too. It’s already been very rainy this winter. I hope we both get better weather.🤞🌻

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Oh, I’m so sorry. For you, your daughter, Ben – that is all so much. I can relate in the part you talked about when it was over and going over everything. In the heat of the moment I am like you guys – what can I do to help him right now deescalate. Just going over everything because in the heat of the moment it is all going so fast. Hope you all have a better day today and time off of school in general. Thinking of you – sending an air hug!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thanks for the hugs, I’ll take em!🥰
      He shot me twice this morning but I ignored it, hoping it was a test to see if I’d freak out. He moved on to the lamp shade. Still not great, but better. Hopefully he’ll get bored and want me to tape things together again. Or maybe his Christmas junk will entertain him for a day or two🙄😂
      I hope your winter break is as stress free as possible! Come on Jan 6th💃🏼

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I was thinking about your post last night when I was moving this side table to the trash. I was so happy when I got this table – it was on clearance when I got it but it was real wood, not the particle board we usually get. Within the year Declan broke it by sitting in the drawer, then the whole front came off from him picking at it mindlessly with his feet. I glued, nailed, rebuilt that darn table – but out it finally went to the trash last night. There are so many broken, holey things in this house. I felt that pain of yours last night too. Anyway, thinking of you! C’mon January 6th! 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

        1. We dont have curbside pickup of big stuff, so our side yard looks like a junk heap/landfill. We need to rent a dumpster but will have to coordinate where to put it🙄 I almost wish younger daughter was still in high school, there were always guys (and their trucks😉) hanging around then…😂
          I just want others to know they aren’t alone. We both know how horrible it feels when it’s so bad and you think ‘what am I doing wrong? Why is it like this?’ We aren’t doing anything wrong. It’s called autism SPECTRUM disorder because it covers the mildly impacted and the severely impacted and everything in between.

          It’s better… still not great, I’m still getting shot with the nerf gun with an ‘oops'(yeah right🙄) and a maniacal laugh. Its testing… I know it is, but dang it😠 those darts hurt too. Sigh… Jan 6th🙏

          I hope your Christmas isnt too stressful 🤞🎄💝

          Liked by 1 person

  6. Time off from the daily routine of school is tough all the way around…for our kiddos, for parents who are also caregivers. Add in holiday madness and, well, no — there is nothing you could have done to prevent it. We all do the best we can on the good days and bad. Sending hugs.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you😍 I remember how isolated and helpless I felt before I had contact with other parents/carers of kids like Ben, and it’s embarrassing at first to talk/write about the holes in the walls, the broken furniture, the physical lashing out… I felt like I must be doing everything wrong for it to be that bad.
      I don’t want anyone to feel alone with these kinds of behaviors. They happen. It’s part of the autism spectrum.
      I appreciate your ‘voice’ in this too. Girls especially are under-represented.
      Hang in there. We got this💪💝

      Like

  7. Oh grandma, this is bad news, and l am sorry to read it – l can’t offer advice, l can relate to it though – l experienced from roughly the age of 10 to perhaps my late forties these outbursts. I wasn’t on medications as you know, never have been, but then l am a later diagnosis and even though l had my Asperger’s from a very young age, no one saw it and when l was diagnosed it was literally a case of ‘you have got this far’ don’t worry about it.

    My marriage went through these outbursts, it’s why my wife hated me – l never all the way through the outbursts ever struck another person, l wanted to, when young l wanted to beat the living crap out of my father – but l didn’t – what l did do was bash myself up pretty bad, break furniture, punch walls – what’s going on? Inside the head? That l can tell you, or what was in my head at the time … l would be like a ticking bomb, l could feel everything slowly closing on in me, l would try to escape to get the air on my face, to feel free, but usually l was closed in, l could feel my head getting smaller and l feel the adrenaline pumping through my whole body … the temper would never subside for me until l had completely exhausted myself physically and mentally always mentally, l had to kill the kill switch and the only way to do it was to explode.

    For me, l would see a red mist creeping in, and l would send warning shots over the bows for no one to appraoch, l was about to explode … red mist – then black out occured full on rage – uncontrollable rage – l couldn’t control it, l would punch walls till my knuckles fractured and my hands bled, l would shash, crash, smash crash, punch, kick, and inside l was sobbing – anything to stop the pain – as l got older l cut, l cut deep and hard to wake up.

    I still have an explosive temper, which is WHY l really control it now, but l can travel from 0-100 temper wise in the space of ten seconds at times – it’s isn’t just explosive its nuclear. For me l steer clear of everything, l steer clear of lots of noice unless it’s controlled and regulated, l keep myself busy, l keep boredom at bay and l stay focused, l keep the stiumulation always active.

    It may not help to read this and l have Asperger’s in comparison to Autism BUT, that’s what is going on inside the head at the time of rampage – destroy to stop the pain.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Thank you JB! This is really helpful. We cant know if its exactly the same for Ben until he can express himself better but it seems pretty close.
      I have felt explosive rage. Probably not quite that level, but I’ve punched walls, baseball bat to dumpster, thrown a 2yr old style tantrum… I’ve also never hit anyone but oh, I wanted to!
      I just wish there was a way for him to release all the pent up feelings safely. I know he cant see, hear or think straight when it gets to a certain point. I dont want him running away and getting lost or hit by a car.
      Thankfully, he seems to have got it mostly out of his system. He’s still shooting us with the nerf gun occasionally, testing the waters… His mama is sick, finally going to the doctor today, so that’s another ‘change’ for him right now. Plus, it’s raining because of course it is. 🙄
      I am just trying to keep my mood level so he can pull on that. Ground himself on me, ya know?
      I hope things are well with you. I’ll check back in, read a few posts, after he’s out for the night.
      💌💌

      Liked by 1 person

  8. Oh l know what you mean, sadly he is at the age when that may not matter but it’s a comfort to know it is at least there – just keep yourself safe. What is he like when he is kept close and confined to the body does that help? I am thinking of that old side box thing that Temple used to use and wondered if the closeness for instance of a heavy blanket would help?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. We bought him a weighted blanket and he doesnt like it. We got a 10lb one, so it might be a little too heavy still. He can NOT tolerate restraint, but if we catch it early we put him on the bed or couch and lay across him. Squish him a little. Or we’ve done ‘bongos’ on his back, butt & legs. You’re right that he DOES seek sensory with his body. I’m not kidding when I say he bounces me in the morning. He jumps onto the bed in a flop. Warm baths can help too.
      He needs to learn to ask for what he needs, if he even recognizes it… he has processing delays, and we need to be better attuned to him. It’s nearly impossible to be vigilant all the time though.

      I guess even the best systems will occasionally go fubar and we just handle it as best we can. It’s just sad really. For him & for us.
      💌

      Liked by 2 people

  9. Oh dear, I hope you weren’t hurt too badly, it must have been a shock. I hope you are feeling better?You mentioned you wouldn’t consider ABA because of the bad things you’ve heard about it and I know this is controversial but perhaps not all therapies are bad? ABA has such a bad name in the autism community that the mere mention of it is offensive to some people but perhaps what matters more is the therapist’s attitude towards autism, what kind of interventions they use and what their goals are. I am conflicted on this topic too because of the bad things I’ve heard but coming from a different culture where autism awareness falls far behind, it forces me to be opened to different perspectives, even though it is difficult. I’m not suggesting that ABA is effective or good, I’m just saying you can find out more about it or different options, keep an open mind. You can have a look at this link https://www.wikihow.com/Tell-if-an-Autism-ABA-Therapy-Is-Harmful

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you for the awesome link!
      ABA is what is always suggested, I haven’t yet heard it offered, so I guess I’d need to check out different companies and their therapists and also see how it would be paid for.
      I think that at his last public school they brought in a Behavioral Therapist to work with him. I think that was her job title. I know she was from a private company & not part of the school district, but he kept running away from the ‘lessons’.

      Honestly, his Mama should be the one to figure all this stuff out, but she won’t. That’s a whole different problem there.

      He’s been in a much better mood. His ADHD is in full force and he’s stimming and making noises and banging into stuff, flopping on the furniture… I wish I had one tenth of his energy. Sometimes it seems like he’s stealing mine cuz the bouncier he gets, the more tired I get.😂

      💌

      Liked by 1 person

  10. What an incredibly loving home Ben lives in! Beautiful as hard as it is to be living this. I am very sorry that the hitting brings back trauma for you and your daughter. I understand this is not new behaviour for Ben. I just am curious Ben is 11 male hormones can be charging as Puberty begins, 9-14 in boys. This is a big change for any of us Puberty. He may also be having growing pains. Just a thought. I recall (as a girl) the pain of growiing bones, and inability to cope with feelings . I can not imagine what any person who has an inability to express such things must feel. I doubt that this will help with the management of keeping Ben safe.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Puberty is coming, we know it😱 There haven’t been any other signs yet, but we’re watching for it.
      Unrecognized pain is something we do think about (awesome suggestion!!). We will sometimes give him ibuprofen with one of his med doses ‘just in case’. He doesnt always even understand that he’s hungry or has pain.
      His bowel movements are irregular also, and he can get irritable if it’s been a few day. I keep track, but the school doesn’t always know if he does it there. I’ll offer him popcorn (or other snacks or food from his list of acceptable foods) to help him go.
      It’s so complicated, and we do the best we can. Sometimes things just ARE.🌻

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I agree and I did not want to presume cant take the nurse out of me. How incredibly inconsiderate if the school is not keeping track of his bowels. I worked with an autistic girl for two term as a n aid afew years ago and I had to document every bodily fluid. So hard on him and you when Ben is not able to understand. Sounds to me your best is superb. Yes I am learning especially for myself sometmies things just Are! and breath..that is for me..i forget sometimes, when I read of such love.

        Liked by 1 person

  11. Oh, Angie… I know I am so far behind in reading and I do apologize profusely.
    You poor dear… My heart sunk after reading all that all your went through. How you maintain such an upbeat attitude is beyond me, especially after all the injuries and broken stuff all throughout the household.
    Between you and your older daughter suffering from PTSD and having to go through a repeat because of Ben, it really is so hard to read.
    I certainly hope that now that he is back in school, things calm down.
    Love you, Sweetie!!!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. He had a rough week at school and a little at home but we’re back to regular Ben stuff. Another broken chair but from playing not anger. 🙄
      I’m glad it happened before I got new glasses (which I still need to do, they’re taped in 3 places🙄😂) and my head knows he cant help it.
      You’ve had your own worries. Don’t feel bad that you missed on mine. It sucks when it happens, but I dont hold on to it. I document it for other’s that may be feeling alone with that kind of thing. Its embarrassing and isolating in the beginning, before you find out it happens to others.

      Anyway… I’m having a really good day today. I got to stay in bed til 9am😲. I hope you’re having a good day/evening too🤗🥰😘😍

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Wow, Ben must have really hit you harder than I initially thought, to have broken your glasses in 3 areas. OMG! You poor thing. 🤓😵
        Do you and your daughter worry about him getting older and stronger as he ages? I mean, if he can do all that at the age of 11, what and how are you going to handle him when he’s 15-18 years old? 😖💪
        I’m really happy to hear that you were able to sleep in this morning. Thank goodness!!! 🙌🙏🤗

        Liked by 1 person

        1. Him getting bigger and stronger is a big concern. On the plus, he’s getting better at regulation so hopefully that will help keep him from exploding the way he does.
          We’re going to talk to the med dr (she’s a psych doc) and see if she or the school have safety recommendations…for all of us. They use mats and pads at school. Block him into an area where he cant hurt himself or others. Not as easy for two people at home.🤷🏼‍♀️
          He used to explode several times a week. Sometimes several times a day. He’s maturing, getting better at not letting it build up.

          Liked by 1 person

          1. Thank goodness the explosions are less now. However, I really hope that the dr can help with regulating the meds in order for him not to flip out so hard on you and you daughter.
            Has the school mentioned that Ben goes into to “Safety Zone” so-to-speak when he in school during these explosions? Maybe, adding those types of mats and/or pads in his bedroom wouldn’t be such a bad idea.

            Like

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