Monday, June 6, 2011

Dealing With Emotions: She's Mad As Hell!

We worked for years on just getting Audrey to identify emotions.  Which she can now do pretty well.  Now step 2 is getting her to react appropriately to her own or others' emotions.  She likes to laugh her head off when another kid is crying or upset, so we definitely have to work on that.

But right now we're focusing on how she deals with her own emotions...especially "mad" or "irritated".  Obv.  I mean, who needs to work on dealing with "happy" right?  **picturing how she deals with the ecstasy of coming upon a house with the sprinklers on and her "Ee-ee-ee-ee" arm-flappy happy dance**  OK, strike that.

When Audrey is mad or irritated, she doesn't communicate it appropriately.  Some examples of her major irritations lately:  someone else answering the door when the doorbell rings, not getting a cookie/cupcake/entire fake wedding cake in the bakery window, and, the old stand-by, getting any of her stims interrupted.

The go-to reaction is, of course, scripting.  She'll say something like "There aren't enough muffins for anyone else!"  Source:  Mickey Mouse Clubhouse. Specifically Daisy Duck.  More specifically, some bullshit episode where someone is stealing food from the Clubhouse and they have to figure out who it is.  Well, maybe that isn't that specific because there are about 90 episodes like this.

Sometimes she will make an attempt to talk herself down from the ledge, and say something like "I can handle it when someone else answers the door!"  But I'm just not sure that it counts when it's said in a high-pitched wail while bawling her eyes out.

But my absolute favorite, and her most common reaction, is when she pulls out something from the past that she was taken to task for but has nothing to do with the situation at hand.  So, say we are talking about someone else answering the door.  She'll say "I get mad when I cannot have hot chocolate!"  Huh?

Another favorite, said when she is especially irate "WE DON'T HAVE TIME TO DANCE!!!"  To which I always respond, "Go ahead, dance!  I wish you would!  If it would distract from this tantrum, by all means DANCE."  Yeah, we have a lot of really constructive conversations in this household.

These scenes are especially sweet when they are played out in public, and we end up saying these really effed up things to each other.  This one played out in Target when I tried to peel her away from stimming on the automatic doors:

"Audrey, come on, that's enough, we gotta go."

"Maybe I'll smell my toes next time!"

"You can smell your toes in the car.  Let's go."

"But we don't have time to smell my feet!"

"We've got plenty of time.  You can smell your feet all you want, but IN THE CAR.  Let's go!"

"I should NOT smell my feet!'

"I just told you that you could smell your feet.  You're not mad about smelling your feet.  You're mad because you have to stop making the automatic doors open and close.  Say what you're really mad about!"

"I cannot smell my feet."

Ugh.  Is it wrong for me to long for the day when she'll just cuss me out like a typical kid?


  1. Right there with you, I long for that too! Or tell me you hate me like your sister does. My guy's favorite is, "I'm okay, I'm okay, I'm okay", whilst bawling high-pitched and so forth. Or he'll script super hereos. Is there an Autism Man? Well there should be. With his aide as his sidekick.

  2. Great post! My boy likes to dramatize things to the extreme. We will be at the store and he will see something he likes. I will say, maybe we can get that when we come back. Then I get, "I WILL NEVER HAVE ANY TOYS EVER AGAIN!!" Or the cable goes out - I will never get to watch my shows ever again! A constant struggle that I am hoping he will grow out of. It's bearable for now. ;)

  3. I live in the caslte with the Drama King. Even at 16, every little noise elicits "What the f*ck was that?" - in his loudest voice. The OMGs flow freely, as does the string of curse words.

    Not sure you should be wishing for that last one - it's pretty embarrassing in public when he calls me an effing b*tch.

  4. I get mad when I cannot have hot chocolate.

    That girl is friggin hilarious. Her mom? Eh.

  5. i hate when I can't smell my feet in target

  6. My only regret is that you were not at WaMart. Then we could have gone to and see it in action... ;)

  7. Oh yeah, some crazy stuff comes out when they're mad. A's latest thing is to sing "happy birthday" at the top of his lungs in an angry voice when we have to do something he doesn't like, like stop at red lights. I'm such a mean mama, stopping at red lights and all that.

  8. Tinkerbell screams the opposite of what she's upset about. For example, if it were her at the automatic doors she'd scream in her loudest voice, "I don't WAnNA make the doors open and close!"

  9. I agree with Lizbeth, Walmart would have been a better choice. You wouldn't have stood out much from the other shoppers, and she could have plopped down right at the automatic door and smelled her feet all day. It's not like they don't see that all the time.

  10. He he. I can totally relate. At least you might be able to look back on it in a few years and laugh.

  11. Hahaha, the other day Brian was so mad at me that I wouldn't allow him to play Finding Nemo on the computer that he went into his room and punched his bed and said "OH MAN!" then he threw a couple toys up in the air while I think cursing- just in his own gibberish- so I'm not really sure.

    Honestly I just went downstairs and laughed- it was the first time I have seen him get really mad. I won't find it funny if it continues, I'm sure...

  12. @Cari: Yes, somehow I'm not buying the "I'm okay" when it is screamed.

    @Kerrie-Ann: Oh yes...that could be a whole other category...the going to the nth extreme. Glad to see there are drama kings as well as queens :)

    @JFC: Speaking of drama kings...yes, I will stop wishing to be sworn at now.

    @Big Daddy: Yes, I would be nowhere without being able to mindlessly regurgitate the words that come out of Audrey's mouth. So unlike the Algonquin Round Table that is your blog.

    @Dani G: That is the only thing I want to do ever since I posted this.

    @Lizbeth: I'm very afraid to click on that url.

    @Christy: Oh yes, we went through the red light phase too. I think that one is pretty universal.

    @Apples: YES! I forgot that one too. I need to write Part II to this post. That is my favorite because then I get to say "OK then you won't have a problem if we leave" which totally ratchets up the insanity.

    @Flannery: So my problem is that I'm going too upscale shopping at Target? Life just gets better and better.

    @Colleen: Luckily, I can (mostly) laugh at it now. Talk to me at the end of sandal season.

    @Heather: We <3 appropriate behavior even when it's anger!

  13. My little knucklhead's working on this too. For some reason, he didn't like me loudly singing around the house, said "I don't like that song" and glared at me. AJ curse words, I imagine.

  14. Ya know, think about it. The next time I get really mad, I'm going to react like Audrey. Because it's just so off topic, it'll seem funny and I'll start cracking up. Sort of like a reverse psychology.

  15. Love her MMC reference! I used to have a student that could relate to or explain just about anything with movie/cartoon lines. One of his IEP goals was understanding the meaning/use of safety signs. As I assessed him later in the year, every description was straight out of a movie but totally made sense. I Loved it but I'm certain most other people would have had no clue what he was talking about.

  16. This had me laughing so hard I was about to laugh. I would so love to go to Target and see this. Would it be wrong for me to sit and do a smell a thon with the kid if I saw this happen?

  17. LMAO!! Oh, Lynn, truly you have that gift to tell a story and make me cry laughing! I don't know why smelling ones toes or feet at Target should seem so funny to me, but it does.

    We have cut back somewhat on this kind of activity but the new cuss words around our house are "CHOCOLATE ICE CREAM" - it just sounds so nasty when he says it in his high pitched yell. "You'll have to wait til later." "CHOCOLATE ICE CREAM" - Don't ask. I have no idea.

  18. Oh wow, Lynn, to me it seems good that at least she can put some words to the anger and somehow express that she's angry. Sam rarely admits it, he just blows up or just says 'no' over & over again in this growly voice.
    Also, there is always, always time to dance.

  19. I deal with some of that crap with my daughter. She doesn't handle certain things well--she'll break down and cry over LITTLE things! It's getting better, but it's still an issue!

  20. Oh yes, there are drama kings as well. I have 2 of them. The oldest is a glass half empty kind of person. You tell him, "no," and the world is ending, and he'll *never* be able to do/see/have that again - ever. His life is so rough I tell you. The little one does the scripting where nothing is relevant and our conversations are also all kinds of effed up and constructive. Then the 2 of them together? They make me want to give them Midol some days. Boys can take Midol, right?

  21. Mad is SO HARD to teach! It makes me mad. Maybe I should go sniff my toes in Target? I mean if it works for Audrey... :-)

  22. Soooo funny. I can totally relate.

    Billy's latest: "Mommy! I need help! (then, in a deep, somber voice) But Mommy is too busy to help ..."

    I really have NO idea where this script came from - it sounds like some kind of public service announcement about bad parenting that should be followed by a black-and-white image of a troubled teen on crystal meth. It gets me a lot of judgmental stares when shouted in public.

  23. Re: Audrey saying "I get mad when I cannot have hot chocolate!" when it's (apparently) completely out of context... She likely does this because she thinks associatively. When she's being stymied in some way, it triggers a chain of associations about other obstacles that have stymied her in the past. This associative thinking + vivid visual recall = high emotion. She's not just reacting to the issue at hand. She's reacting to everything associated with it.

    This is a tough one. As a kid, I would cry and cry over what seemed like nothing to most people. I wasn't just crying about the frustration or pain of the present. I was recalling many, many events that reminded me of it. As I began to figure out how I think, I learned to break these association chains so that the emotions wouldn't overwhelm me.

    As frustrating as it is for you both, Audrey is fortunate in that she has you to help her with this early on.

  24. Go Audrey for being able to identify and verbalize her feelings!! That is a great accomplishment! It sounds like she can't answer "why" questions very well yet without scripting completely - those are the hardest questions to learn and to teach. Me, I would plop her in a cart and let her smell her feet all the way through the store and out to the car just to get the damn shopping done. I hate shopping worse than I hate meltdowns.

  25. *sigh*
    I can't think of anything else to add that hasn't already been said.