Long time no write. What can I say, life gets in the way LOL We seem to have seen a lot of changes in my house in the past year. It’s definitely been a year of learning.
I’ve decided to breathe life back into my blog. I need a place to get my thoughts out and centralize some information. A place to take notes that I can refer back to later.
T2 is nine and has been experiencing some difficulties. Maybe he’s on the autism spectrum, maybe he just very defiant. Whatever it is, it’s hard. It’s exhausting. It’s not fair. I hate seeing him struggle, but I’m a loss for how to help him. Today I’m reading a lot about meltdown versus shutdown. Boy, do we see this a lot in our house!
In my attempt to figure out if my son is shutting down deliberately or if it’s something he can’t control, I ran across this little gem from www.fearlessswimming.com:
Are shutdowns actually avoidance behavior?
One can not be sure exactly where to draw the line between intentional and involuntary acts, but we believe shutdowns were driven more by physiology than by learning for several reasons:
First, we have seen the SD child exhibit frank refusal behavior by folding her arms across her chest, turning her back to the teacher and declaring that she was angry and would not do the task. This behavior is along the same lines as the avoidance behavior described in the literature, which is often disruptive, violent or destructive [2,3,4]. In contrast, shutdowns are more accurately characterized by extreme passivity.
Second, the SD child exhibited limpness followed by sleep which was real and not feigned. It is difficult to imagine a child could sleep at will under these
Finally, we found no enticement could compel the SD child to continue working on the task. She was highly motivated to earn the particular toys that were offered for finishing the task. She tried to finish but could not. The need to rest was apparently greater than the desire for the toy. These observations lead us to believe that shutdowns were not adequately explained as learned avoidance behavior.
This was our experience yesterday. My son completely shut down. We were at our second testing session for vision therapy. This was his second time at the office, but his first time meeting this therapist. The first visit we got through, stressful as it was. It took a lot of patience by a wonderful eye doctor. At any rate, I thought I had prepared him, but when the time came to go to the therapy room and answer some questions, he shut down. He had told me the morning before that he was not going to do it.
One could easily say he was being defiant. In the moment, that’s where my mind was going. Looking back on it this morning, one thing popped out at me. He did manage to tell me that he was tired. Right now, I can’t recall if that was in the waiting room, in the therapy room or in the car after. Being tired seems to be an autistic shutdown quality. When we returned home I told him no video games or computer. He, in classic meltdown, went to his room and barricaded the door. He spent almost 2 hours in there with Legos.
I want to know first how to prevent shutdown and second how to handle it. How do I bring him out of it? Can I? How do proceed with things like appointments where he needs to communicate when he’s in shutdown? I have to reschedule this evaluation, but at this point I almost feel it pointless as he’s just going to shutdown again. Feeling frustrated today.
For the record, there is no diagnosis to date. The money for neuro testing just isn’t available at the moment. I know he has vision tracking issues and that could cause many undesired behaviours. This is a route we wanted to explore first. Testing is something I want to get done at some point.