Sunday, December 4, 2011
Today, Max got a big boy bed. Yes, at three years old he was still in his crib. He loves his crib. He only tried to get out once- a nice hard fall solved that... We would put him in his crib at bedtime and if he wasn't sleepy yet he would be perfectly happy up there just talking to himself. Most three year old are in big boy beds by now, but he felt safe in his crib - and more importantly- was safe, so why mess with a good thing?
To be honest, I didn't want to. But over Christmas break we are going to try potty training and he needs to be able to get out of his bed on his own if we are going to do that... so big boy bed time. Plus we will (hopefully) eventually need his crib for the babies' room. And with Max, its best to spread changes out as much as possible. So if we are potty training in three weeks- we had to do it.
Over the last couple of weeks, we've bought new bedding and purchased his bed. We took him with us to do all of the looking and purchasing. Despite this whole process, it was pretty obvious that he was oblivious to what was coming. This afternoon, when it came time to take apart his crib and move it to the nursery, he did not want to be upstairs with us. We couldn't convince him to come upstairs until we were ready to put his bed together. At first, he didn't seem to bothered by the GIGANTIC change... But a little bit later I went looking for him after he headed off with his blanket and nuks. I found him in the nursery, laying on the floor in the middle of the now three sided crib... He was making these little noises he makes when he is starting to get worried about something. Heartbreaking. As soon as everything was ready we brought him back into his room and he started saying "no big boy bed. Want crib!" and crying. :( So we went downstairs and didn't make a deal out of it for the rest of the evening.
Usually for big changes like this I would make him a social story. If you don't know- social stories are a little book of words and pictures that break down everyday events into simple, manageable steps. Most people with autism are very visual and often have a hard time following consecutive steps, as well as coping with changes in their environment. For Max, these social stories have been amazing in helping him cope with changes or events in his life. We have used them for his Aunt Chrissy's wedding when he was the ring bearer, for moving, for his Upper GI and Upper Endoscopy and for Halloween. They really do make a HUGE difference. He understands what will happen and that greatly reduces his stress.
I feel like an awful mom for not making a story for the big boy bed. I should have- it would have made bedtime much easier... I know better next time!
So I took him upstairs tonight and put him in his bed. He immediately started crying and saying "no this." I laid down in bed with him and proceeded to have a huge meltdown for the next 40 min. Kicking, crying, yelling, thrashing. He kept saying, "don't have any crib tonight," "no more big boy bed," "I scared." It was awful. I felt so bad for him... Eventually I started asking him what color things were and he calmed down. Finally after almost an hour, he went to sleep. I hope tomorrow night is easier!
I hate that such simple things are so stressful for him (and us). It shouldn't be that big of a deal to put a three year old into a real bed- most kids are thrilled. It shouldn't take several days of short exposures to get him to wear new shoes, coats or hats without a colossal meltdown. I shouldn't have to drive all the way through the neighborhood each time we come back from somewhere. But if we don't do things this way, it makes life so much harder. Its not that we spoil him, its not that we are too lazy to deal with him and his fits. Its not that at all.
He can't help it. He does not understand why things would need to be any different than they are. He just cannot handle anything other than what he expects to exist or happen. It's sad and it's maddening. All day long I work to make sure things go as smoothly as possible for him. No one wants their child to be in so much distress over such minor things. The normal strategies that you would normally use with an upset toddler do not work with Max- because his reasons for being upset or not the same as another toddlers. People think its just as easy as trying it the way they did with their kids- well if your child isn't autistic- it's probably not going to work. Even still, one kid isn't the same as the next. It's a guessing game- and sometimes I swear there is no answer...
This is what autism is like for Max. Its all day. Everyday.