Wednesday, 6 November 2013

Bull in a china shop

Storms brewing
Stardust can become extremely anxious in certain situations and unfortunately this means he can lash out aggressively.  This has been problematic for him over the years in a number of different ways. We have stories of situations which have made me and I am sure him, feel like digging holes and hiding but life goes on.  I am here to help Stardust gain tools to manage his frustrations, like an extension of his body if you like.  Aggression is the most debilitating part of his make-up and one that causes me pain and worry on a daily basis. 

When an individual is aggressive in this way they cannot contribute an effective part in society.  

This is a terrifying and real worry for me.

The truth of the matter
Stardust has been unable to access certain settings because of his inability to adapt effectively.  He cannot for example access the standard education system.  He is unable to conform in a classroom and follow the demands placed upon him.  He cannot access certain group activities and he finds it extremely difficult to participate in situations where strangers are involved.  Schools have seen him as a ‘risk’ to their staff and to other children and have used restraint as a way to control him and his behaviour.  Friends we have can understandably see his behaviour as a ‘risk’ and he has been rejected and isolated because of this. 


What we do
At home we do not reprimand or use adult imposed punishments/sanctions on Stardust for his outbursts.  We do not bribe and we never make deals with him. We talk and use various techniques to help him to limit set independently.  For example we use talking mats, we use play therapy and we follow Ross Greene’s approach of collaborative problem solving.  This can be very hard for those who do not know him to accept, even those that do know him sometimes have refuted our approach.  The facts as they are stand like this.  When Stardust has a meltdown he is in effect receiving too many signals into his brain and it erupts like a mega tornado.  He becomes mute and uses aggression as his tool of communication.  His incidences are becoming fewer, less aggressive and much shorter and we are constantly working on helping him.


An insight into his brain from snippets of information Stardust has told me
I would like you to Imagine if one thousand people clambered into your brain, like right into the belly button of it, the central part where it all goes on and talked amongst themselves, talking so fast you couldn’t keep up. Some people start shouting, others whispering, some making noises that really aggravate you and it feels like it will never stop... then imagine that you felt they were all trying to ask something of you.  Lots of questions that you just couldn’t answer, you wanted to but the words were trapped and they could not and would not come out.  Imagine for each and every one of those people talking you could feel their emotions deep inside your soul, that you could not shake it off and that it started to take over your entire being.  On top of all of that, imagine you could smell something horrendous that made you feel like hurling up your entire stomach contents . When you tried to turn your eyes to help get rid of it all there was an annoying light shining that bounced off your retinas and felt like it was blinding you.  The worst, the very worst part of all is that you couldn’t get away and your body knew it couldn’t keep calm. Loss of control is inevitable - KABOOM EXPLOSION


What we are doing to minimise occurrences
This is part of what Stardust is living with on a daily basis and he sometimes just blows up. I can get that and I can sympathise and empathise with it. We are helping him to defuse the situations and put strategies in place to help with regulation because as I said he cannot function as an effective member of society when he is aggressive.

After Stardust has had an episode of kicking, throwing, hitting and sometimes even biting he calms and becomes extremely sleepy.  His brain I feel has been knocked off and he needs time to self regulate.  He often likes to chew on liquorice and lie still.   He is fully aware after an event of the damage and distress he has caused....worst of all for him he feels an immense amount of guilt and anxiety surrounding this.  We always talk about what has happened sometimes a day or so later, when the time is right and we chat through all the options of how next time we can work together to make sure that Stardust has the tools in place to do the right thing. Sometimes this can be successful sometimes it isn’t and we need to go back to the beginning and try over. 


How Stardust feels

When Stardust is rejected or misunderstood for his behaviour his trust in the human race gets knocked.  Mine does too, I hurt for him and I hurt for our situation.  I feel sad that people cannot and will not see how far we have travelled and how much he has to give.  I feel pain for him and wish I could take it away, put it in a big heavy box, fill it with a ton of metal, put a padlock on it and throw it into the deepest part of the deep blue sea.  Unfortunately we are unable to do this, we have not been given a choice and we have to live with it all, the consequences of his behaviour and the reactions of others – which inevitably are often going to be negative.

He has full awareness of unacceptable and acceptable behaviour, he understands social boundaries but at times he finds it impossible to keep it all together.  This is not because he is a horrible person, it is not  because he is living in a house with adults that let him get away with things, it is not because he needs to be punished to learn a lesson, the natural consequences that occur are reminder enough, the insight he has is painful enough and is a self punishment that resonates to his core.  Stardust has a diagnosis of Asperger’s.  I believe he has gaps between some of the synapses in his brain and they don’t spark the way some peoples do, some of the personality traits that come along with this can be extremely negative.  Stardust has therapy to help develop these links.

He still has a journey to go – he has to work on areas of his being that parents often take for granted in their children, work that most children wouldn’t even consider as work, work that comes so naturally to many that they don’t even have to blink to follow through the processes - unfortunately at times this can be very debilitating and sad.  It is a very painful and raw part of Stardust’s difficulties.


People that spend time with us
Over Stardust’s life I have learnt a great deal.  I have learnt a lot about myself, trillions of details and facts about communication, learnt how to slow life down to ensure stress is kept to a minimum and I have learnt that to accept and I mean truly accept Stardust for who he is takes a person made of pure gold. I mean accept that he has difficulties surrounding resilience, adaptability and flexible thinking and accept that there is no quick and easy answer.  I don’t mean accept that Stardust will be aggressive for the rest of his life.  I won’t accept that as I know and he knows that one day his brain and body will always do the right thing.

We know lots of gold shiny people and both myself and Stardust are indebted to these people.  Those that see him for the child he truly is not the aggressive monster that takes over, those that can see into his eyes and have touched him.

They believe in Stardust and they believe our approach is helping put the essential building blocks in place that Stardust so desperately needs.

I thank those that understand and so does he – you are the special ones that will see and comprehend my saying #eyesofagenius