Monday, January 26, 2015

The Massive Meltdown

"It's like glass going across my brain."

This is how Tommy describes it when his sister cries. He cannot take the noise. So when she cries, he has a meltdown.

She cried the other day.

She had messed up the bathroom after I told her not to. See, she likes to mix mouthwash, toothpaste, and shampoo. She calls them potions. I've explained that her potions are made out of items that cost money. So I told her to cut it out.

She did not cut it out.

So I told her I was disappointed in her.

Her lower lip immediately shook and she wailed, "YOU JUST DUMPED OUT MY BUCKET!"

It's the metaphor used in her school. You want to be nice to others and fill up their buckets. If you're a bully, you dump everything out.

I was not being a bully. But Natalie had become hysterical.

"You just dumped out my bucket!" she repeated.

"What's going on?" Tommy shouted. "What's GOING ON?" His hands were clamped over his ears. "Why is this happening? Why is this happening?"

I could see the flash of the meltdown in his eyes. Tommy has Aspergers and noises are hard for him to process.

"Tommy. Breathe," I reminded him. He knows to breathe in and out to calm himself down. He started to do this. But then Natalie screeched, "MY BUCKET IS DUMPED!" and burst into tears.

"STOP IT!" Tommy bellowed. "STOP!" He slammed his door and I heard the TV volume boom. He had raised it to the max volume to drown out his sister. "STOP! STOP! STOP!"

I had my daughter crying. I had my son melting down. The volume from the TV was shaking the house. I wanted to cry but I had to hold it together. Tom is gone so I'm on my own. I've dealt with days like this before. "I can handle this. Like Olivia Pope," I said to myself. I managed to get Natalie to calm down.

"I'm sorry. I just like my potions," Natalie sniffled.

I suggested that next time she use water and food coloring. But downstairs so it doesn't get all over the bathroom.

I went into Tommy's room and found him banging his body against his mattress. He does this often because he likes the sensation against his skin.

"Is it over?" Tommy asked as he slammed his body against the mattress.

"Yes. Could you please turn the TV down?"

Tommy stopped and obeyed. "I'm sorry. It's like glass going across my brain. Am I still mature?" He's always so worried about that. With the Aspergers comes anxiety. He's constantly worried he's disappointing someone. He needs daily reassurance. And you have to reassure him in a regular tone, because if you say it in a snippy tone, he panics. Sometimes I say it in a snippy tone when he's asked me if he's mature for the eighth time that day. I don't mean to but sometimes I'm trying to cook, trying to keep Natalie happy, trying to keep the chicken from burning, and then he comes and asks me the same question he's asked many times that day, the same question that he asks countless times in one month.

"You're still mature," I told Tommy. "But sometimes your sister will overreact. It happens."

"To girls more often," Tommy said, but not rudely, just matter-of-factly.

We got through it. We're okay. It will probably happen again.

But I can handle it.


  1. You are a rockstar mom!!! Those kind of situations always stress me. I hope you destressed with some chocolate!!!

  2. Sorry you had such a rough day! It sounds like you solved everything quickly, though, so go you! :)

  3. You got this. I'm sorry that was rough. Hoping for a better day today!

  4. I used to do the same thing when I was your daughters age. Do you ever save the hotel shampoos or magazine shampoo samples? My mom would let me play with those for my potions and mad scientist creations. I hope your week goes well.

  5. Kudos to you for handling all that. My older son and daughter both have hearing loss and wear CIs. So it's hard on my son's ears when his sister screams. He could take off the CI though and he usually does when that happens. So I can imagine how overwhelming it is for a child with Asperger's. BTW, have you read The Art of Adapting by Cassandra Dunn yet?
    I know how you feel about getting the same question a lot. Even kids without Asperger's do that!
    My kids make a huge mess with toothpaste in the bathroom. It drives me crazy. My younger son also manages to get all the bathwater on the floor. Will wonders never cease?
    Hang in there!!!

  6. You handled that like a boss! As a mom of an Asperger's boy, I feel your frustration and I know it can be hard. Good job, mama. At least Tommy has a decent knowledge of his own coping skills.

  7. That is seriously a rough day. It seems like you handled it like a rockstar but I totally understand with the meltdowns. Erica is the same age as Natalie and sometimes she just FREAKS OUT and it's ridiculous and it's almost impossible to calm her down until she realizes she's being a psycho. That sometimes takes awhile.

  8. Sounds like you kept it together even though I am sure it was really trying. Meltdowns are never easy!

  9. Awww... I feel bad for Tommy worrying about being mature. I probably would've gotten upset with that too though... kids crying is like nails on a chalkboard - I totally hear him on how annoying it is. ;P
    ""YOU JUST DUMPED OUT MY BUCKET!"" Now THAT is just fucking hilarious.

  10. I cannot imagine how hard it must be for you to have Tom gone during those moments. Just by reading your blog, though, I can tell how strong you are and I know you will get through every struggle that comes your way!

  11. Seriously you are incredible and handled it like a pro. I cannot even imagine how hard it is with Tom being away!

  12. Oh my goodness, the fill your bucket book. We used that book in our preschool....

    I'm glad to hear you got through it... and you did so very well. Good for you! It's so hard when we have these days and our partners are out of town.

    Way to go mama!

  13. Whew! Sounds like you handled it like a rock star. Big chocolate sundae for you!!

  14. No small feat, keeping your cool in those situations. You handled it beautifully. Your kids are lucky to have you. Props to you!

  15. They use the bucket metaphor at my daughter's school too.

  16. Good for you in handling it well. :)

  17. you are a rock star mom!! bravo.
    I find all the noise with my 3, way too over stimulating and it is very hard to keep calm and cool. I can't think straight and I react. I think I need Tommy's breathing method.

  18. That is so intense. I love the way your son thinks, "to girls more often." Lol, not even trying to be insulting, just stating the facts.

  19. Sounds like my house. At least once a week we have Bradley melting and Becca pounding out some tune on the piano while telling him to shut up. I am assuming that the crying effects Tommy's heightened sensory due to autism. My Bradley can't stand crying either. Good thing he is the youngest. He doesn't do well when there is a baby around crying. He says it hurts his ears.

  20. Oh gosh I know what you mean about wanting to cry yourself. I'm home all day with a 21 month and a 4 month old and when they both start crying and fussing and nothing you do seems to please them, I just want to let out a huge scream and cry myself...but I know I have to keep it together. Being a mom is the hardest job ever.

  21. You did an awesome job, Amber! I know I would not have held it together like that. There would have been spankings and yelling and that would just lead to more tears. I'm not proud that's my reaction, but that's probably how it would work out.

  22. Aw.. asking if he's still mature.. is so mature. He would hate hanging out here with Scarlet and Des meltdowns. Yikes!


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