Monday, August 27, 2012

Putting Anxiety behind Us

As noted in my post on our tour of the house that Manly built, Pamela's auditory processing skills have come a long way. We took a beading class the night before leaving on a trip to Pennsylvania. The lady teaching us explained all the wonderful things we were going to do "tonight"—a word that did not sit well with Pamela at five o'clock in the afternoon. Pamela quickly corrected our teacher, "It's today!!!! You're joking!!!" After about three slip-ups, she had our guide well-trained in proper time terminology. Obnoxious outbursts aside, Pamela enjoyed herself thoroughly and required hardly any help in following directions for stringing beads.

While Pamela still has moments of minor anxiety from time to time, she has come a long way. Too many times teachers and parents address behavior from the outside in (manipulating outside factors that happen before, during, and after the situation). I have blogged many posts about dealing with her anxiety and wrote a long series of what helped the most.

About a week ago, the Wii Fit remote was acting unpredictably, so Pamela came to me for help. In the past, I was not able to troubleshoot electronics until I calmed her down (one aspect of co-regulation). When things acted up, Pamela freaked out like many children do. Because she has learned to self-regulate, I worked in peace. First, I spent five minutes playing around with it, making sure the batteries were good and checking the settings. While working, I quietly explained to Pamela my thought process. While she watched me carefully, she show no anxiety. Then, I spent another five minutes searching for the manual. Finally, I studied the manual for five minutes before figuring out what to do (synch the remote to the console). Even though she was fighting the tears the longer it took, Pamela kept her cool.

I participated in a workshop on a recent trip to Pennsylvania. Pamela kept herself busy the first day, sitting on the couch, drawing, and playing with my Nook. On the second morning, the IT people had taken down the wireless Internet. Usually, she watches me like a hawk while I troubleshoot. Watching my progress reassures her. In this situation, I worried that the uncertainty of the process might cause her to freak out. I took her out of the classroom and quietly explained the situation. Pamela seemed content. I also warned the other teachers that I might be demonstrating how to react to challenging behaviors if Pamela became anxious. Then, she said to everyone, "Don't worry! It's okay!"

Since Pamela is handling her anxieties well, I tiptoed to the edge of her competency. The other day, David's friend stopped by to borrow both Wii Fit remote controllers. Pamela was in the tub, so she had no idea of his visit. Then, we ate dinner at a friend's house, and she went straight to bed when we got home. I deliberately did not tell her about the missing items. In the past, I would have mentioned something because being unable to find the controllers would have caused a meltdown.

The next morning, I heard Pamela pacing as she searched for what was missing. She woke me (as expected) and asked, "Where's the remote controllers?" I calmly explained, "Scott borrowed them for a lock-in at his church. He promised to return them tomorrow morning." She listened and said, "Borrowed them. Okay!" No tantrums, meltdowns, or crying.

Because we decided to pick up David from college for the weekend, Scott did not return the controllers until late afternoon. Pamela did not pester me or cry during all the time they were out of sight. No tantrums, meltowns, or crying.

P.S. Since I failed to work in Pamela's play on words, I'm just tossing it here for no particular reason. She decided that a male Canada goose is a Canada gander.


Bonnie said...

Aren't you thanking the Lord!!?!

bookworm said...

Yes, but (and isn't there always a but) she is now becoming more forceful and tantrum (in a deliberate way) when she doesn't get her way. That is a sign of progress because her sense of self and identity are emerging.

Bright Side of Life said...

I love this, Tammy. I have followed Pamela's progress for a few years now and I am blown away with what she is doing. May I share your blog on the RDI platform? Di :)

walking said...

Go for it!

auditory processing said...

While Pamela still has moments of minor anxiety from time to time, she really has come a long way.