Thursday, May 24, 2007

Spring Fever at Autism's Edges

Do any of you remember last year, when a number of us observed behavior squalls in our children around this time of year, or perhaps just a little earlier?

I just Googled "spring" inside Autism's Edges and I found lots and lots of meltdowns!

This year I've been hearing the same sorts of things from autism moms and dads . . . not necessarily posts in their sites, but by email and in conversation. My cause-and-effect, social scientist, regression analysis* mind has been snapping, crackling, and popping.

I can't exactly show you the sample I'm working with because only Kyra has posted publicly, but others have commented on various mishaps and difficulties and their own adult meltdowns.

My own personal meltdown involved a bottle of expensive medicinal liquid facial cleanser that Sweet M seemed to have assumed was communal property and so took in the tub with her, thus introducing tub water into said expensive facial cleanser, rendering it essentially useless in its medicinal function. I was so angry . . .

But the thing that was hilarious was that Sweet M was in the tub and she looked up at me with a great look of eagerness and said, "Wow, am I grounded?"

"You are so grounded," I replied.


"Really?!?!?"
she asked, with the most eager anticipation, "Am I double grounded?"

"You are so so double grounded."


"You mean, like no TV and no ice cream and . . ."


She couldn't conceal her delight at the idea of being grounded.

And then I realized, oh my god — masochism. I was talking with a masochist . . . "Are you going to hit me? Oh no, oh, yeah, oh no, oh yeah, no, yeah, no, yeah . . .."

Later on I checked the soap and there wasn't any water in it at all. I apologized for getting angry with her, and she was visibly disappointed that she wasn't grounded. More on this another day, as I have digressed . . . .

Spring fever is my topic here today . . . This year it was my own spring fever rather than hers that I noticed so clearly . . . I'm wondering if others are having spring fever as we come up on that holiday marking the launch of summer . . .

When I taught in Japan I was impressed by all the talk about the change of the seasons. . . there were special foods for the change of the seasons, rituals like cherry blossom viewing that constitute a very big part of daily life, and anticipated bodily transitions that were just part of the conversation. Being out of sorts (or in transition) at the change of the seasons was expected . . . a given. If everything on the planet shifts with the seasons, why would humans expect to be exempt? (Other than our overall species chauvinism and arrogance.)

In the West we have the idea of spring fever, and more recently of seasonal affective disorder (to put a DSM spin on it), but I wonder if our exquisitely sensitive kids (and sometimes selves) are just highly attuned to the changing of the seasons . . .


* a statistical model, not our kids and our own regressions!

11 comments:

VAB said...

Our guy is going through a massive linguistic growth spurt. It's going so fast its actually freaking me out. Maybe spring has something to do with it. He usually makes the most progress when he is maintained on the edge of disregulation (for example, on a holiday trip). Maybe the changing seasons are shaking him up from the inside.

Joeymom said...

Joey usually has a development spurt in teh spring, too. One reason to have ESY IEP meeitngs early... but I digress. We also get more meltdowns, but then, he also gets spring allergies. Makes him grumpy, just like the rest of us.

kristina said...

Perhaps it is "spring drowsiness"....... while yours truly has had some bouts of this (due in part to end-of-semester fatigue), Charlie has been swinging along. Even an unexpected change in fieldtrip plans (they were to go bowling but the bowling alley, on arrival, was not open) did not irk him, nor watching his classmates eat pizza at a pizzeria while Charlie had his lunchbox lunch (and an ice pop he purchased himself). But there's some metaphor lurking in M's "grounded"----those bulbs sending shoots up through the dirt....

MothersVox said...

Kristina, I love that idea that there are other metaphors in being grounded! Of course! Of course! And when I think about the way that lightning seeks the ground in the spring and summer thunder storms, I think there is definitely something to this grounded idea!

Joeymom and VAB, That makes so much sense . . . about working at the edges of dysregulation . . . Pushing the limits and sometimes running passed them . . .

Sam I Am said...

Ditto is all I can say. Sam and I have ironically both been in meltdown mode lately. I really didn't piece it together until reading your post. Hmmmmmm.....glad we're not alone. Similar stuff a year ago too. For us, perhaps it may be that I get ansy in May, as it is the end of the school year, and always thinking of what social activities and things I will plan for Sam, and it is also our anniversary each year of his official diagnosis a couple years ago. Good thought provoking post. Thanks.

thismom.com said...

huh. well, i guess we're all going through our spring growth spurts, our re-emergence into the the sun and rain.

Sweet M makes me laugh! i can just see her, in the tub, looking up with that excited expectation about being grounded! and yes, she sure SEEMED very grounded in her response!

i tell you, spring or not, losing it happens from time to time over here and as much as it feels bad, it's over so much more quickly when we say sorry, talk about it, and move on. we're all pretty resilient.

Frogs' mom said...

In the Pacific Northwest, spring is beautiful, but it is also a time of great instability, growing pains, and uncertainty. We get a few beautiful sunny days and everyone throws open their windows, puts on their shorts and starts planting things - the next day the sky is cloudy, raining, the wind is blowing and the temperatures drop to near freezing. Little Frog, being very sensitive to pressure changes, is especially vulnerable at this time of the year. It is also hard for him to comprehend why he can play outside one day and has to stay inside the next. Like Kristina's flower bulbs, we are all just ready to burst - but is it time? Will it be ok, or will prematurity be the end of us? There is great desire, great energy and great apprehension – it is enough to make anyone a little edgy.

a mommy said...

Sometimes I wonder if ordinary allergies might not be much worse when you are like our kids. They tend to be kind of allergic anyway, and with the weather getting more volatile - I sometimes think they have sinus discomfort, or general allergy ick, and don't know how to exactly express it. I'm ashamed to say how long it took me to put together that my nonverbal son had hayfever!

Then again, spring kind of is charged and does involve a lot more buzz.

Annie D said...

I really enjoyed this post. Thank you !

Annie D said...

And also, my son is not autistic, but has several disabilities -one of which (apraxia of speech) for some reason sometimes get lumped in with autism though I am not sure why.

Vab said that her son is going through a linguistic growth spurt, well my son is too, I hadn't thought it could be part of the new spring season, but hey, maybe it could be !

neil said...

I was at an autism lecture given by a speech pathologist today and out of the blue she said she didn't like coming to school on windy days because there was a rise in difficult behaviour. Where I am there is a link between windy days and spring, maybe that has something to do with it...