When Meltdown Meets Meltdown

by Lillian Csernica on July 17, 2013

Most of the time I count myself very fortunate, because while Michael has serious medical problems, he’s still cognitively intact.  He knows we love him and he has a good quality of life.  John is on the spectrum, but he’s doing very well and he has outgrown a number of the more publicly embarrassing demonstrative behaviors.

And then there was today.

The local library offers a “Teen Tech” class on Wednesdays, taught by a wonderful man from the Digital Idea Factory.  John loves to creates storyboards, so he was having a grand time learning to use the digital camera and the MovieMaker software as well.  I had a nice chat with the librarian supervising the class, which may result in me giving talks at the library.

When the class ended, I was ready to move on to the next item on the To Do list.  John was not.  John wanted to stay at the library until it closed and use one of the computers to listen to his favorite music videos.  Having already spent an hour and a half on the class, we did need to move on with the afternoon.  Unfortunately, John is now in the habit of going to the library for the express purpose of using the computer to listen to these videos.  Why?  Because we limit his electronic activity time at home.  Too much of it and he gets rather wound up and contrary.

I’ll just cut to the chase here:  John dug his heels in and refused to leave until he’d used the computer.  I had to start going down the list of privileges he’d lose if he didn’t do as he was told.  When he was still four or five years old, I could just pick him up and haul him away.  Now that he’s six feet tall and build like a wrestler, I might as well be trying to push over a bronze statue anchored in cement.  He lost his temper, I lost my temper.  I don’t know how I finally got him in the car, but I did and we came straight home.

That confrontation left me in such a state of aggravation and exasperation I had to isolate myself for a while until I could get a grip.  Later I found out that John had given my sister a similar bad time about doing his outdoor chores earlier in the day.  My sister’s solution was brilliant:  she turned the garden hose on him.  That left John gasping and spluttering and so startled that it snapped him out of the contrary holding pattern.

This is really upsetting.  As a discipline issue it’s very draining.  What’s more, once John starts high school in the fall, he’s going to find out the hard way that you just don’t tell off your teachers like that.  He might still be designated special education, but that doesn’t mean there won’t be consequences.  I want what’s best for John, but I would also enjoy what’s best for me, and this level of stress is not healthy for either of us.  Looks like I’ll be giving the adaptive skills trainer another call.


Filed under Family, Fiction, Humor, Special needs, Writing

2 responses to “When Meltdown Meets Meltdown

  1. ThingsLindsayWrites

    That’s rough…I’ve heard that problem before, and a lot of the meds make kids larger, which makes it even harder when they act out physically (not saying John is overly large, just not 5, like you said).

    I imagine it is especially difficult in a public place like that, where you can’t just walk away and both have some time to cool off. I know summers can be hard for a lot of kids on the spectrum who thrive on routine and rules…maybe when school starts back up it will help? Sometimes having non-family members disciplining can help.

    That doesn’t help right now, I know. I guess if he is going to this class again next week maybe you can set the expectation up front for the schedule, that there is no computer time.

    I have a friend whose child is severely DD and has a rare genetic disorder, and she is still a baby on so many levels – still in diapers, limited communication, partially tube fed – but she is 15 now and even though she hasn’t had much exposure to teen life, you can so tell she is a teen! I guess regardless of the child’s abilities, every parent is subjected to the trials of teen years 😉 My heart goes out to you!


    • Hi, Lindsay! Thank you for your sympathy and understanding. That’s a very good suggestion, making it clear to John that next week on Wednesday we’ll be there for the class and that’s all. If I get him prepped ahead of time and things go according to his expectations, life is much easier.


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