If children came with parenting manuals, life would be so much easier. While life with TM is relatively easy now, there are still times where his past trauma rears its ugly head and I feel as though we are back to square one. We have found that if we can head off these moments before he reaches absolute meltdown he can regain control and not disappear. (During these times, when it is really bad, he does seem to disappear; he's just not there.) There are a couple of tricks we have started to use which seem to help.
First,we deal with some of the presenting problems and not the impending fit. When he is starting to completely lose control, his feels his skin itching so badly he begins to claw at himself. I know it must really feel itchy, but I also know that it is a symptom of mental distress. If I express concern about his skin itching and carefully rub lotion on it, it can often calm him down enough to begin to see reason. His muscles will also often feel as though the are cramping during these times. We have a lotion which smells like root beer (which he loves) that is designed to help muscle cramps, so we will carefully rub this in also. He has always loved good smells, so I bought some essential oils to make some pillows (or something soft) that we can hand him to smell when he is upset as well. When I get them made, I'll let you know how it works. He doesn't always want our care, but if we remain calm and continue our ministrations, he will often calm down.
The other piece we have recently discovered is that these periods are often tied to when he gets too hungry. Now, since both B. and I are very susceptible to low blood sugar, you would think that this would have occurred to me sooner. But because our reactions are so different (we just completely shut down; having a fit would require too much energy) it never crossed my mind. But a little while ago I read this post by One Thankful Mom and something clicked in my head. I am positive that TM never experienced great hunger, so I don't think that is at the bottom of all this, but it did cause me think that perhaps it could be hunger related. TM has been growing like a weed these days, so it would make sense that we would be seeing more of this type of behavior in the middle of a growth spurt. To sum up, when he gets too hungry, his brain starts to short-circuit. I have been experimenting with giving him some high protein food whenever I see the spiral start and it seems to be working. Like B. and I when too hungry, initially, he doesn't want food. When you get too hungry, it becomes difficult to recognize the symptoms of hunger. But, if I can get it in him, in a few minutes we can see a return to rationality. TM and I were even able to talk about it this morning and he is going to try to pay attention to feeling hungry so we can take action.
I think I'm going to to have to go back to carrying power bars with me. When B. was little this was a huge part of our lives. One moment he would be fine, the next he would be immobile. As he has gotten older he has become much better at self-care and we don't see the plunge quite so often. But when B. was little, I needed food available immediately. Perhaps this time, I'll investigate making my own power bars...