Hannah seems to have a knack for making me look ridiculous. Right now her venue of choice is the public library. The last two times we have gone to library she has made me look like a complete fool. The first time, we were standing in the middle of the stacks and Hannah decided abruptly that she didn't want to wear her skirt or tights or undies anymore and pulled the whole kit and caboodle down. Shocked and appalled, I grabbed them and tried to yank them back up. Hannah pushed me away and started shouting, "NO!" I tried again to grab her and she threw herself to the ground and starting kicking wildly. By this time the whole children's library was staring at us in amazement. This was definitely something they don't see every day-even in the kid's section! I tried to calm her down and reason with/bribe/threaten/coerce her to pull her clothes back up, but still she refusesd. She was hitting me, screaming, and flailing around like a mad woman on the floor. Finally, at my wit's end, I scooped her up and awkwardly half carried/half drug her to the restroom (thanking God the entire time that the children's library has it's own bathroom) and deposited her on the floor in the wheelchair accessible stall and shut and locked the door and let her scream it out. After about 5 minutes she stopped screaming and I tried to talk to her and explain why it wasn't appropriate to take her clothes off in the library or any other public place for that matter. She still wasn't in the mood to listen and came at me wielding her arms like a Ninja assassin! I seriously considered ducking under the stall to safety! When she's in meltdown mode she can be seriously strong and there was a definite possibility I could have been injured or at the very least hurt. Against my first instincts, I stayed and managed to hold her at arms length by pressing my hand against her chest and praised God for that second time that library trip that my arms are longer than hers! After she wore herself out trying to get at me it was like someone flipped a switch inside of her. She visibly relaxed, stopped crying and screaming, and said "I'm done Mommy," Then she let me pull up her clothes and we discussed quite calmly and rationally why we have to wear clothes when we are out in public and that it's only ok to pull your pants down in the bathroom or your bedroom. It's times like these that simply blow my mind. I have no idea why she decided she needed to pull her pants down right that very second (she's never done anything like that before) and I have no idea why she went so crazy when I tried to pull them back up. Even more frustrating is that I have no idea what changed that made her willing to pull them back up and able to talk rationally with me when she was done with her hysterics. Here we have a huge meltdown that I have no idea what the trigger was and no idea what happened to bring her out of it. It's like I learned nothing from the experience and won't have a clue what to do to help manage a future situation like this. UGH!
The second incident happened on Thursday. We had been having a pleasant trip to the library and now it was time to leave so we could go home and eat lunch. Hannah started getting pretty squirrelly while we were checking our books out, but she mostly managed to keep it together. Then we had to walk through the long lobby area to get to the outer doors and head out to the parking lot. Right before the final set of doors there are two fake potted trees, one in each corner. When we were almost to the end of the lobby Hannah pulled her hand out of mine and bolted for the door. Frantic that she would run out into the parking lot and in front of a car I took off after her. As Hannah reached the doors she decided at the last minute to duck behind one of the trees and hide in the corner. Initially I was happy about this because it meant that she wasn't in danger, but my relief quickly turned into anger when I realized the little game she had up her sleeve. You know how on cartoons and movies there's the chase scene where the chasee is on one side of a large object such as a table or bed and the chaser is on the other and the chaser and chasee run back and forth like idiots, neither one making any progress at all at either catching the other or escaping? Then eventually the chaser grows so frustrated that he/she vaults over the large object surprising and capturing the chasee. Well, that was Hannah and I on Thursday. Each time I tried to reach around the tree and grab her (I was too big to fit behind the tree) she would scurry to the opposite side of the corner prompting me to move to the other side and reach around that way. Over and over we traded sides of the tree until we had gathered quite an audience hanging out in the lobby and lounging on the benches that line the hall. I'm sure I looked like a chump or the worst mother in the world who had absolutely no control over her child. I was FURIOUS, but trying not to loose it and scream at her. Unfortunately, unlike in the movies I couldn't just jump over the tree and capture my daughter (although once I considered knocking the tree over!). We were stuck in a vicious cycle and I for one certainly wasn't backing down. I don't even remember how it ended. Everything is one huge blur, but somehow I managed to get her and I tried to slink quietly outside, but all eyes were on us. I imagined that they were all watching to see what I was going to do. My face was hot, both with anger and embarrassment. I wanted to cry. Hannah was happily chattering away, already having forgotten the whole incident. I hustled her out the door (probably a little more roughly than I should have) and got her buckled into the van and launched into another lecture about how dangerous it is to run away from Mommy, how it's important that she obey Mommy because the rules I make are for her safety, how Jesus commands children to obey their parents, how this includes stopping or coming when Mommy calls. Hannah sat quietly and listened. She seemed contrite, but I knew it wasn't really sinking in. I knew it would happen again. I knew that even before we were done talking her brain would already be onto plans for what she wanted to do next, what we were having for lunch. Impulse control for the average 3 year old is pretty limited. Impulse control for a bright, curious 3 year old even worse. Impulse control for a bright, curious 3 year old with Asperger's still worse. Some days it seems like we ride a roller coaster careening along from one impulsive act to another. But then there are others that are focused and controlled and I have hope that we really can kick this problem. Those days just seem few and far between. Tuesday was a calm and controlled day. Today was a roller coaster day. Any advice for helping a preschooler with impulse control would be welcome or, if you don't have advice, at least a story or two to let me know others have been there too might help! :)
Speaking of Tuesday, at OT on Tuesday Hannah started a new program called Therapeutic Listening. She listens to specially designed CDs on special headphones designed to transmit frequencies outside the range of normal hearing and normal headphones. The goal is to see improvement in her sensory modulation, auditory sensitivity, and maybe just maybe improved impulse control. I really don't understand how it all works, but the research on the protocol seems promising and unlike some treatments it can't really hurt so I'm willing to give it a try. The only catch is that it's a pretty strict commitment, 2 30 minute sessions every day for 8 weeks. Tuesday, Thursday, and the weekend I have no problem fitting it in, but on school days it's been more difficult to fit them both in-especially the morning session. Hopefully the longer we do it we'll figure out a better way for how to fit everything we need to fit into our hectic morning routine without compromising our sleep or causing meltdowns from rushing Hannah to move faster in the morning (she HATES that!). Wish us luck that this will help Hannah.