Dear Neighbors…and Passers-by…and anyone in a 1-mile radius of our house:
Please pay no attention to the blood-curdling screams you hear coming from inside our house. It isn’t the result of child torture or injury. It is the result of NEW SHOES.
The Mom You Always See Drinking Beer on the Deck
I have wanted to send in an order to a sign company for a while now. I would ask them to make the above sign quite huge and with stakes I could put into the yard. The part that reads “NEW SHOES” would be left blank for me to fill in with a big-ass Sharpie. Then, I could erase the “NEW SHOES” when I’m ready to fill it in for the next earth-shattering meltdown in my house. (GENIUS!)
I could have filled in that fill-in-the-blank with the following things at some point in the last year:
- Short Sleeves
- Fingernail Clipping
- Winter Coat
- Opening a Door
- Closing a Door
- Turning on the Light
- Broken Crackers
- Dropped Food
- Opening/Closing the Dryer Door
- Stray Cheese on His Pizza
- A Speck of Dirt
- His Brother Touching Him
- His Brother Hugging Him
- His Brother Getting Too Close
The list really could go on and on. This is just a sample.
Today…it was NEW SHOES.
MOST kids LOVE getting new shoes. MOST kids can’t wait to get them on that first time. MOST kids also don’t freak out when a Ritz cracker breaks in half by accident. MOST kids don’t scream at the top of their lungs because a speck of dirt is stuck to their hand.
Easton is NOT most kids.
I have been dreading the day when I finally had to get him new shoes. The thing is…the old shoes were not too small yet. But, they were literally falling apart. And honestly, they started to look like shit.
DAMN. He has been wearing these shoes EVERY SINGLE DAY since probably September. And…they were hand-me-downs…not from his older brother, but from one of my nephews, who is now 10. They have finally seen their last day on a child. I’m thinking of burying them in the back yard (not just for sentimental reasons since they are practically a family heirloom, but because I don’t want Easton to set eyes on these shoes EVER AGAIN). They need to be out of his life. Forever.
People with Autism have a hard time adjusting to simple changes in their daily routine. Aaaaaand that’s the understatement of my life. A “hard time.” That almost makes me laugh out loud. I got the new shoes he has on today 2 weeks ago at Target. I was stupid enough to attempt to try them on him at the store. BAH-HA-HA-HA-HA-HA-HA!!! I deserved that one. You would think I would know better by now. The screams that ensued resulted in a child in the next aisle to proclaim: “Mommy, that baby in the next aisle is MAD!” I took a deep breath, put the shoes in the cart, and decided to try them on at home.
I tried them on at home the next morning before school. It was a bad enough meltdown, and I don’t have ANY time to spare in the mornings, that I gave up, put the old shoes on him, and told myself we would try it again after school, when we weren’t on a time crunch.
Here we are, 2 weeks later. I decided this afternoon would be PERFECT! He wanted to go outside to play anyway, and he associates putting his shoes on with going outside. YAY! Man, I am just SO smart, waiting until a mellow Saturday afternoon! (This is what I thought in my head. I’m still learning, folks.)
The caliber of the meltdown (after the FIRST shoe) was like nothing I had seen in quite some time. The degree of screaming and kicking and thrashing after the SECOND shoe was…well…it was what made me close all the doors and windows in our house and wish we had a soundproof room to take him into. Thirty minutes later, he was finally taking deep breaths and the tears and snot were coming to an end.
I try my hardest to understand what’s going on in his head when stuff like this happens. I try to put myself in his (new) shoes.
I know that when I get new shoes, sometimes it takes a few days to wear them in. They’re not necessarily as comfortable as my old shoes. (Here’s the key part.) THEY FEEL DIFFERENT.
This is what I imagine is going through his head, except in children with Autism, that uncomfortable feeling, that DIFFERENT feeling, that NEW feeling, is at such an extreme level of discomfort that they don’t know how to handle it. It took 3 days to get him adjusted to short sleeves last month. I ended up having to put him in long sleeves, have him eat his breakfast, get his shoes on him, and then, when he was ready to talk out the door, I did the ol’ switcheroo from long to short sleeves and put his jacket on him before he could go full-on psycho on me. (Yay me! I outsmarted my 3 year-old!) My best guess was that the sleeve hitting the upper part of his arm was SO uncomfortable for him after being in long sleeves for 6 months, that it was like pins and needles on his arms.
His heightened senses will always affect the way he reacts to situations. The challenging part is getting him through the meltdown, while maintaining my sanity.
P.S. to the Neighbors…Passers-by…and everyone else: Yes, ALL kids have meltdowns. My son has Autism. Not ALL kids have them to the degree or for the reasons he does. It’s DIFFERENT.