There are a bunch of little odds and ends of things I want to type out tonight, but I can’t make any of them very cohesive.
I’ve been having an increase in behavioral issues for… okay, for quite a while, but especially the last week or two. Crying on and off, hitting my head a lot, pulling at my ears, and even complaining that they hurt. Everyone said, “It’s just the arthritis in your jaw.” I finally stated emphatically that I wanted someone to look in my ears if they weren’t better by tonight, and, what do you know? Middle ear infection, complete with puss and other ickiness.
Truth be told, I’m still deciding (because you really need to have an opinion on such things) whether an ear infection or writer’s block is worse… and I’m leaning toward writer’s block.
With the behavior, other things aren’t helping… staff changeover, starting intensive physical and occupational therapy, family coming into town, birthday party, holiday… and don’t get me wrong, a lot of that is good stress, but it still affects me in some not-so-positive ways.
Even things like getting to see my sister and brother (in-law, but I don’t care about the in-law so I just call him Brother) can be cause for a great deal of worry. What if I scream or swat at someone? What if I ruin the fun with my behavior?
The key, I would think, is that I need to communicate what I’m feeling in ways other than with behavior. I need to use words and typing to say, “I’m overstimulated.” Can you ever see me pausing to say that? It’s almost a joke. It would never happen. Scream? Yes. Bite? Of course. Politely interrupt conversation to excuse myself due to overstimulation?… Ha.
So I’m trying something new. Kari Dunn Buron wrote a book for educators and the like called The Incredible 5-point Scale, in which she outlines the concept that people with autism (children, really, but we both know that children with autism turn into adults with autism), though they are sometimes unable to articulate their current emotional states in words, can sometimes reference a scale from one to five in which each number corresponds to a given state or behavior.
My scale might look like this:
Number-Feels like-Looks like.
1 – relaxed – sitting still, not talking
2 – in tune with surroundings – conversing, mild stimming
3 – slightly overstimulated – voices rises, intense stimming
4 – overstimulated – crying, saying no/refusing help
5 – melt down – screaming, physical aggression toward self or others
The idea is that rather than stepping outside my overstimulation to say, “I’m overstimulated and I do not wish for you to help me!” I can say (probably yell, of course), “I’m a 4!”
I read the book and informed my staff that “the checkout line makes me a 3!”
Gasp. Did I just hear progress?