Today has not gone particularly well. Nathan woke me up early, shouting “Mommy” louder and louder until I went in to him. We’ve been trying to teach him to play quietly in his room when he wakes up (since he gets up a good hour earlier than anyone else in the family) but I was worried he was going to wake up his brother (and Alex does not do well with being woken up). When I got there, Nathan was upset and didn’t want to go back to sleep or play in his room. I told him to go downstairs and watch TV quietly and went back to bed. But as I tried to go back to sleep I realized I’d made a mistake. I’ve just reinforced that if Nathan makes enough noise, he’ll get to go downstairs. Not good. Well, we’ll figure it out.
Alex woke up upset and irritable. Before he’d been up an hour we’d had three time-outs for hitting and kicking and a lot of headbanging. Usually he would have had his skiing lesson followed by time at his grandparents’ house but they were busy this weekend. Maybe he was disappointed, it’s hard to know. But the point is, we had one overactive loud child and one irritable aggressive child who both would be stuck in the house all day. I knew we had to get them out and try and keep them separated as much as possible. It’s not fair to Nathan to be yelled at or hit for his efforts to play and it’s too much to ask Alex to tolerate his brother jumping around and shouting when he’s already upset.
We went to the Museum of Civilization, which is a lovely place here in the city. Dave took Nathan and the two of them spent most of their time in the Children’s Museum. It wasn’t too crowded (sometimes you can barely move inside and the kids have no opportunity to play with the exhibits). Alex and I spent our time riding the elevator up and down the four stories of the museum. I was prepared for that (it’s usually what he wants to do) with my iPod to listen to (it gets very boring going up and down in an elevator). He had a fantastic time and was in a good mood by the time we were leaving.
It didn’t last long but I think it helped. With some more judicious separation and television selection, we managed to keep things fairly calm through the afternoon. I think Dave ended up having a harder time than I did. He doesn’t deal well with missing sleep and has a harder time dealing with the fights and other difficulties. He tries but reaches his limit fairly quickly. I accept that but it makes it difficult, since it means I’m often on my own for the hardest days. On the other hand, we both know how being irritable with the boys only makes the situation worse. You need patience, calm and a sense of humour. One of the therapist referred to it as the “autism mask” because you have to train yourself not to show your emotional reactions to avoid reinforcing problem behaviours.
Bedtime went fairly smoothly and hopefully everyone will feel better after a good night’s sleep. And now I get to go see the movie Serenity on the big screen. I never got to see it in theatres since I only came to the series after it had been cancelled and the movie was on DVD. I’m looking forward to it.