Whether I like it or not, Cadet is officially classified as “special needs”. As soon as he got a diagnosis for ASD/SPD, he became special needs kid. While that label isn’t important to me, it’s a good reminder that Cadet isn’t like most kids.
Part of his Sensory Processing Disorder is that he can’t tell me when he’s overwhelmed or needs to do something else. Even his body signs don’t always paint a clear picture of where Cadet is emotionally/physically/sensorily.
This weekend was a perfect example of the rough road Cadet walks.
As I said in my previous post, this weekend had three separate events for Cadet’s birthday.
- Event One (Friday late afternoon): Cake and presents at our house with Rose and her husband (Cadet sees Rose on a regular basis). This lasted maybe two hours. He had two bites of cake, a few small pieces of white chocolate, and spent the rest of the time in the back yard playing normally.
- Event Two (Saturday morning): Impromptu picnic at Gram’s house with my cousin and her two girls (3 and 6). This lasted about an hour. Cadet played with the girls a little bit, played with his cars, and had some snacks.
- Event Three (Saturday afternoon…after a nap): Housewarming/Cadet party at Sailor Boy’s house. Lots of chasing SB’s puppy, eating fruit, and playing with cars. We were there exactly two hours and it was just us, SB, and his girlfriend.
None of these events were long, loud, or full of strangers. Cadet always had McRuger or I nearby, and two of the three events were held in familiar locations (our house and Gram’s place). Heck, even the food was familiar.
But Cadet struggled a lot this weekend. After Rose and her husband left on Friday night, it took Cadet close to 3 hours to fall asleep. Rose and her husband left a good hour before bed, which gave us plenty of time to have a nighttime routine, but Cadet wouldn’t sleep. He banged his head, he screamed, he threw his blanket out of his crib, he jumped, and he cried. No amount of rocking, reading, or soothing helped. Finally he succumbed by sheer exhaustion.
On Saturday, Cadet woke up still a little out-of-sorts. We tried to give him a normal morning, but by the time we left for Gram’s, he was still grumpy.
At Gram’s, Cadet displayed behavior that I had never seen from him: he pushed one of his cousins…several times. He also was kicking toys (unusual), throwing food, and lashing out at me. His behavior was the reason that we left early. I couldn’t believe (and was totally embarrassed by) his behavior.
Cadet struggled to sleep on the car ride home, and by the time we got home, he was just closing his eyes. It took him another ninety minutes to finally fall asleep, and we had to go into his room several times to help him.
Between nap time and leaving for Sailor Boy’s house, we tried to give Cadet a normal day. And, I thought it was paying off. Cadet was happy (if not a little sleepy) by the time we got to SB’s house. Cadet met their new puppy, and was instantly in love. He spent almost the entire two hours giggling and playing/chasing/being chased.
It didn’t take me long to catch on that Cadet was slowly becoming manic. His giggles were becoming increasingly high-pitched and he was starting to bang his head on the couch. I told McRuger and we explained that we would need to go soon.
By the time we left, Cadet was licking surfaces, banging his entire upper body into the couch, and starting to moan over and over again. He was twisting out of my arms after asking to be picked up.
We got in the car, and started driving home. Cadet was moaning and banging his head in the car seat. He wasn’t hungry or thirsty or even particularly tired…he was in full melt-down mode.
That night it took him (again) almost three hours to fall asleep. He was jumping in his crib so much that I thought it would break. Nothing I did seem to help, until I sat with him and rocked him over and over for close to 30 minutes. Only then did he stop moaning and start to seem “normal” again.
Sunday was a day just for rest (although we did have two small, planned outings). Cadet slept in until nearly 8:30am…which is unheard of in this house. He was almost “normal”, but small things set him off. He would cry and whine if a door was open instead of shut, or when his car (that he was pushing) fell off the couch, or if his apple slices didn’t fit in his mouth just right.
It’s now Tuesday, and Cadet is back to his normal self. He’s been in school, had OT, and even a trip to the dermatologist (more on that later) and he’s being a happy little toddler.
As I have been thinking about this weekend and Cadet’s reaction to it, I have been reminded of several things. Cadet is sensitive, he needs his quiet/down time, and new things need to be introduced slowly. And what I perceive to be a slightly busy weekend…he perceives as almost more than he can handle.
Recently, Cadet and I were invited to a 2nd birthday party. It’s a party for the daughter of an acquaintance of mine. She sent out over 100 invitations (to the children) and 70 children have RSVP’d. YES, there will be 70 kids at the party…not including the adults responsible for those children. It sounded hellish to me and so there was no way I was going to subject Cadet to it.
But, can you imagine? 70 kids? Ughhh.