Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Uncle Visit and Overstimulation

My kids adore Uncle P!

He lives in another state, but comes to our area occasionally. If he has time, he calls and we get together for pizza and some fun activity. It is always a happy surprise to see him.

Last night, Uncle P called to let us know he was here and would like to spend some time with the kids today. They were excited. Too excited.

Mr. I talked faster and faster, and more and more, as the day went on. It got to the point we couldn't understand him, he was mumbling so fast. I knew then that we were headed toward a meltdown. Kids with past trauma, RAD, and FASD thrive on routine, quiet, and low stimulation. A time of pizza and miniature golf with a favorite uncle is not routine, quiet, or low stimulation at all! Mr. I's speed talk was a sign that he was overstimulated and headed for a crash. I needed to figure out ways to slow him down, because he was past the point of self calming.

Sometimes preparing the kids ahead of time heads off the meltdowns. Usually a week before the event is a good amount of time, but we only had one day to prepare the kids. A quiet time before an event usually helps too. This time Ms. D had a friend over and they were running around the house. It wasn't very quiet. Also, making things as routine as possible helps the kids to handle exciting times. It helped that we ate at the same pizza place that we always go to when Uncle P comes. We also played miniature golf, which the kids did with Uncle P the last time he visited. Uncle P may think the kids get bored doing the same thing each time, but the kids really do better when we have traditions. I wasn't able to do all I could ahead of time to avoid a meltdown, so I was pretty worried the night wouldn't end very well.

Actually, Ms. D and Mr. I held it together fairly well until near the end of the evening, except for the time in the middle when my fourteen year old daughter announced loud enough for the whole place to hear that she had to pee, "Right now!". Near the end, Ms. D started sulking because we were going to play only one round of golf. The last time they played two. She couldn't handle the change, even though it was getting late. One round was plenty for me!

Mr. I had an even harder time. He started fussing because I wouldn't buy him something to drink. He had already had too much soda at the restaurant.  Mr. I really only had to wait fifteen to twenty minutes until we got home, since we were on the last hole of the course.  But asking a kid with his background to wait a few minutes to get a drink, or use a water fountain, is like asking him to die of thirst. That's how he was acting. Usually the kids can control themselves pretty well until they come home. This time they just couldn't. I felt bad for Uncle P, since Mr. I was pretty upset when we were saying our goodbyes. I hope Uncle P understood that the kids really did love getting together with him. They had fun, but were just too excited to hold it together any longer.

We are all so happy we had a visit with Uncle P today despite the near meltdowns of the kids. The next time they do something out of the ordinary, or with someone as exciting as Uncle P, I'll help them calm themselves better beforehand. Sometimes I assume that a teenager should be able to handle things like a teenager, not a preschooler. But that's assuming too much. I have to remember to divide their age in half to get to their emotional age. When I do that, things work a lot better. I don't get as frustrated and the kids get the help they need.

I am so thankful that we have family and friends that understand my children and will still do things with them after days like this. My kids are polite and fun to be with most of the time. But I'm thankful for all those who aren't thrown off or offended when the kids occasionally melt down or say something annoying or odd. I am surrounded by people who not only understand, but are supportive. For this I am grateful.

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