Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Shiny things

We've been going through another rough patch here at Casa de Quirk. It involves Mario. Dammit.

It's been awhile since *knocking on wood* Jaysen has had an uber-meltdown- you know, the out of control kind that makes you say ohmigod...whatishappeningtomychild?!?!? Yeah, those.

His tantrums have always stemmed from frustration. In the beginning, it was his frustration with weak communication skills. He has gotten much better at that, and will usually repeat his thought with little to no grudge.

Playing Mario will raise his hackles in a millisecond. With video games, you are not necessarily in control. Sure, you can control which direction your little plumber-man goes, whether he jumps or crouches, but that's really about it. The rest is up to timing. This is crucial to the perfectionist. If you know in your head, how you want the scene to play out, but miss your jump, lose your flower suit, or heaven forbid get an extra guy when that wasn't in the original plan, you apparently wreck the alignment of the planets and Armageddon is forthcoming.

Plan 1: Teach Jaysen coping skills in times of frustration. I have worked with him on "deep breathing" and how he has to take these breaths when he feels like he's getting angry. It worked a little, but realistically, we've been doing this method for years with minimal success.

Plan 2: Give him a warning to calm down. If he does, great. If not, instruct him to turn the game off. Now!

Lately, I have resorted to Plan 2. He seemed to be okay with it at first, but lately he's getting more and more belligerent. He'll tell me it's his Wii, that I'm a kid and can't tell him what to do, that he'll call the police on me, that he'll kill me, or just scream all sorts of nasty stuff. I can deal with that.

On the other hand, my mother watches him after school. She can't not take what he says personally, and to top it off, he's become aggressive with her again. So my mother calls me at work, talking about how stressed out she is and what am I going to do about it because I can't let my child act that way.

I have been around and around with my mom, about the importance of following through with things. She is afraid to stand up to him because she is afraid she'll escalate his aggression. What she will do, is yell at him over and over, power struggle, make threats, and yes, on occasion, hit him back when he hits. I know, I know... trust me, I've already talked to her bazillions of times.

Somehow, it always comes back to me. I'm not exposing him to enough. I let him watch too much TV. I don't encourage his creativity. I don't word things right when I talk to him. I let him call the shots. I don't give enough attention. I give too much attention. It does not end. But my mom is a blamer. The kind that knows it's somebody else's fault, no matter what the situation. Jaysen's Autism? Yep- that must have been from Ex's drug use as a teenager. Or something someone on that side of the family did at one time or another. M'kay.

My mother's heart is in the right place- she loves her grandsons so very much. She just wants everything to be perfect, and doesn't want Jaysen to face such hardships. It breaks her heart that Jaysen doesn't have friends, that he gets so frustrated, and that he has such limited interests. Being the person that she is, I think she is just unable to connect with him, even though I believe she wants to.

Holy craptart- How did this turn into a post about my mom???

Anyway- that's what I've been dealing with for the most part.
Figuring out a plan for the Mario crap, and diverting my mother's attention with shiny objects.
Oh wow- look over THERE!


nicki said...

Video games sure can be frustrating, especially for little dudes with autism! The situation with your mom and Jaysen reminds me a lot of me and my nephew Monkeyboy. I have helped to raise him since he was a baby, and I live with him and everything, but I have a lot of trouble dealing with him when his mother isn't home. He will just scream in my face, argue till he's blue in the face, ignore me, etc. He's 12 now, but when he was littler, like 6 or 7, he also used to scream at his father that he would kill him, call the police on him, etc, and he'd throw things, etc. So obviously I don't know what to tell you... except maybe does your area have any therapeutic mentoring or respite programs, where maybe someone else could come hang out with Jaysen once a week or so... someone who would not take the things he says and does so personally (because it would be an impartial person, not a close family member!) and who could maybe model better behavior? And give your mom a break? Maybe your mom could also try to set an example for him by, when she and him start to get upset at each other, she could say something like, "I'm upset. I need to go calm down for a minute," and then leave the room for a minute." can she just send him to his room when he starts to yell at her, or would he destroy things in there???
sorry, I'm probably no help, huh!

mommy~dearest said...

He absolutely could go to his room- but my mom doesn't always have follow-through. She's afraid his frustration will escalate if she pushes it. Which is why she prefers to scream. It worked with us kids, so it should work with the grandkids, right? Heh heh.

She really is a good hearted person, just wound tighter than a drum when it comes to Jaysen. It's amazing how much they have in common... inflexible thinking, their way is the right way, tantrums if they don't get their way, don't care what you think because they're always right and you're always wrong- you can see why they butt heads, no? ;)

Sabrina said...

OMG I have such an issue with Dominic and video games. They have helped him quite a bit but he can not accept defeat (like a racing game) so he will break down crying on everything, games on the Wii, Xbox, computer.

Mama Mara said...

Not. Your. Fault.

Rinse. Repeat.