I mentioned that we were walking a lot in the community in my last post. What I didn’t mention is that she does still have some behaviors, they are just a little different. She will tug on our hands to pull in the direction she wants to go. She will point sometimes and look at us with an expression that is demanding. I’ll prompt her to say go this way or something relevant.
She doesn’t like to wait, or stand for a long time while I look at something. I do honor that for the most part, but if I really need to do something she has to wait.
When she gets upset she will throw herself onto the ground (usually to her knees at first) and cry. Sometimes I have no idea what sets her off, but usually it is some change to the way we are doing things or something she perceives as a change. Like parking in a different spot. At one Target entrance there is a separate entrance and exit. She thinks we should always walk out the same door we came in.
I always wished she could tell me what she wanted in the store, well there’s a case of be careful what you wish for. She can remember where the stuffed animals are in any store and find her way there. We were shocked to realize she could find her way to the Disney store (she led us) from any spot in the Serramonte mall. (a large mall shaped like a cross). She had only been there walking around one time before like a month ago.
In the Disney store she is after a plush Kermit. It is tempting to buy her everything she wants but if I do that I am setting up an expensive precedent. So I don’t buy her anything. I tell her we can say hi to Kermit (or whoever) talk to him for a minute and they we have to say good-bye. This works, but it takes a lot of urging.
She is incredibly strong. At this point she is more than half my height. If she pulls or pushes me and I am off balance she could theoretically knock me over. Sometimes I have felt afraid that I could not control her, that she would run into a dangerous situation or…
So I invented a procedure for myself to restrain her. Now that sounds terrible, but sometimes I do have to take control. She’ll flop down in the middle of the street or a busy area where I can’t protect her until she is finished.
When we walk she usually stands on my left, with her right hand in my left hand. If she suddenly flops down to the ground, it is not easy to pull her up by my left hand, and I’m always afraid I’ll hurt her. So first I’ll say Up 1,2,3. Sometimes that works and we proceed.
If that doesn’t work, I will transfer her right hand to my right hand and slip my left arm around her back and put my hand under her arm pit. Then I have enough leverage to lift her up. That often calms her and we can proceed. It is also easy to switch to that two armed position while we are walking if she needs extra direction.
If that doesn’t work, I can slip my left hand further around her so it is in front of her, like a bear hug from the back. It’s tough to move in that position and it is easy for her to kick me, but it does work.
I took R. to the post office to mail a box. I probably should have gone at a time when I could go without her, but I had to pick up something anyway. So I got the stroller out, and put my box in the stroller. R. cried instantly, not sure about the box, the stroller (we haven’t been using it) or what we were doing.
I got her to help me push the stroller, and we made it up the hill to the Post Office with no problem. As I turned to enter the Post Office she started to cry and flopped on the ground. I pushed the stroller so it would not roll down the hill and did my “moves” on R.
A woman came along, and I’m sure to her it looked like I was totally out of control of the situation. She pushed my stroller out of arm’s reach (grrr!) and then got in R.’s face to try to help. Which of course made the situation worse.
I finally said, she has autism, she is upset because this is a new experience, I’ve got it under control, thank you. The woman moved away and I wrestled R. and the stroller into the Post Office.
As soon as we were inside the building, she stopped crying and said I want iphone.