So we are settling into a pretty good routine at home with Michael. He is calmer than he has been about school and is enjoying doing homework. This is a really good thing for him and for me to experience. Socially with friends things are going well too, but as with any child, there are always little things that creep up to challenge the family with autism. The latest one for us is Michael’s anxiety and fixation on particular incidents that upset or scare him, then flashing back to those events at bedtime. Yep. Just when the bedtime routine seemed perfect, now something that Dad and I thought was a one time fear has now began rearing its head at bedtime. What is it you ask? Well, I heard Michael watching a video on You Tube during his IPAD time before bed the other night that sounded highly inappropriate. There was no violence or swearing, but the language was disturbing and I did not trust the direction it was headed in. I calmly told Michael to close it. He fought me at first, and I saw the little glint in his eye. Ha, ha, this is naughty. I want to see it because I’m not allowed. But then I said the magic words that seemed to work. “I don’t want you to get scared.” Of course, I realized only after I may have planted the seed in his very impressionable brain that the video was scary. At that moment, I just wanted him to close it without a fight and didn’t worry about how it would sound. Too late.
He has been fixating on that video ever since Monday, and now says to me that the facial expressions of the people in the video scared him. He also says he dreamed of the people in the video coming to kill him. He refuses to go on You Tube and in order for him not to freak out at bedtime, we have had to come up with new strategies for him to relax. He cried last night that he was scared to close his eyes and sleep. Thankfully with his massage, a bedtime story and relaxation music, we are teaching him how to distract himself from this video, but it is amazing the impression it made. He didn’t even finish watching it, yet his fears are on high alert. This has reminded me how sensitive he is, and has always been, to events or people that upset him. Having strategies in place to work through fears is what we are doing, and I will be asking his educator to talk to him too. I worry often about OCD and Michael’s tendencies in this area. At least, he is making progress towards talking about and moving toward fixing his fears with new tools.
Exceptional Parents, how do your Exceptional Children handle fears and phobias? How do you help support them in this area? The most important thing is to remember that this is a big deal for your child and never to dismiss the fears as small. Work with them on finding strategies that work to put them back in control of their bodies and minds: deep breathing, meditation and yoga, relaxation music, talking, exercise, and distraction to something else, are all good. In time, you and your child will see what works for them. Until next time.
I am a writer, speaker and parent coach whose son with autism and Type 1 Diabetes has shown me a whole new way to see the world and embrace the joy of the moment! I believe in empowering parents to trust their own instincts when it comes to their children, and in helping them parent with love, respect and confidence towards their child.
For more information on my coaching services, see my website: www.creatingexceptionalparentingg.com, and for a free 30 minute exploration/consultation session contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Also to receive a copy of my FREE E-BOOK “5 WAYS TO HANDLE EXCEPTIONAL FAMILY ANXIETY” click on www.creatingexceptionalparenting.com/EBOOKS.