It was every Exceptional Parent’s nightmare, and one many of us have over and over. The visit to the doctor for a checkup that goes wrong, so horribly wrong. This is usually common for many parents of all types of children, when their children are babies and toddlers. At this age, it is normal for a child not to understand how to act in a waiting room, to be loud, to make inappropriate comments etc. They usually outgrow it. With Exceptional Kids, the process can make many years.
I have to say though, that as an Exceptional Parent, I have been lucky here. Michael adapted well to most doctor visits. Though the family doctor is more challenging, seeing his eye doctor and dentist has always gone relatively well, that is, until this afternoon. This was the first dental visit he has had since he was diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes at the end of last summer. It was a hard night. Michael had high blood sugar at dinner. At least I gave him dinner before the appointment. He was also overtired after a late night sleep the night before. These factors did not mix well with a busier office and having to wait. Michael attempted to start bouncing on a couch next to another patient. Then on the bench with me he attempted some silly inappropriate behavior to me and another patient. Finally, I thought to give him access to Google Maps to navigate streets and areas, a thing he used to love to do. No, today he wanted to watch pop/rock videos on You Tube at full volume. Well, you can all imagine what happened when I told him he needed to a) watch at super low volume as the office was super quiet or b) watch something else. We stepped outside the office where I could still hear when his name would be called, but when he started making threats and hit my shoulder, I knew it was time to go. I wish I had seen the serious signs at home and just rescheduled then. What were those signs? Talking about silly things, having trouble listening and sitting still. I was not at all surprised when I saw the high blood sugar before dinner. I wondered how he had made it to the appointment without worse behavior.
What ensued afterwards in the car when I half pulled him out, was a meltdown that I had not seen in over a year. My poor child. Yes. I’d come a long way as an Exceptional Mom to see that though my kid messed up how he handled his stress throughout the day and evening, I also had missed the cues that not all was ok. But it was too late. He needed to let it all out. So I let him do that, all the while staying outside the car. I called Dad as I did not have the clinic’s number and asked him to let them know I had to take Michael home. Shortly after, the hygienist came outside in the parking lot and I explained that he wasn’t well. Driving home at first he did more silly things, but then gradually calmed down.
Once at home, he talked to Dad while I had my dinner and two very large glasses of wine. Then after dinner, Michael went on his swing downstairs to regulate and asked if we could talk. He asked me a lot of questions about behavior, about when police arrested people, and about aggression. We talked. I told him how important it was he learn to control his excitement, anxiety and anger. As upset as he would get at me or anyone else, he could not say threatening things or hit, even if it would never go further. This was aggression, illegal, against the law.
I also called back the dental office. Michael has been going to them since he was 6. They know about his autism and hyperactivity, and though I had phoned to update his file with the Type 1 Diabetes Diagnosis, the secretary was extremely grateful when I called back to apologize for having to leave due to high sugar because of his diabetes. I also reschedule the appointment for when he would be on summer vacation in just a few short weeks. Why didn’t I do this before? Don’t know, but lesson learned.
Michael though, once he got over the anger of having to leave, did very well at home. And glory be, the sugar came down for the first time in 4 days at bedtime! What a relief for all of us! I thought to myself how resilient Michael was through all of it. He accepted what needed to be done, listened afterwards at home, packed his lunch for the next day, then did his bedtime routine. I was humbled by his acceptance, and so glad that with such a bad start to the evening, he turned things around so well. He even went to bed early!
Exceptional Parents, how has your Exceptional Child ever humbled you as a parent? What have you learned in parenting them through some challenging moments? Though at first we may become discouraged that we made a bad judgement call, it’s important we give ourselves kudos, and our child, for trying something new. It’s also important we learn from the bad experience what we can do different the next time. Your child still deserves praise for their effort and you for yours. Until next time.