No amount of deep pressure or other calming strategies work. It is a ritual and those who work with rituals know that they are HARD to undo, or just get replaced with others that serve the same function to the individual. It works for him, but not for us or the world around him.
At home it is usually the sliding doors of the wardrobes that he breaks. Or he rummages through the bin with the toy blocks, or throws them on the floor. Sometimes he hits himself on the head. Because the self injury is not an attention seeking behaviour or a sensory one, it only occurs when he has crossed the threshold of emotional regulation to that dark side where the only way out is exhaustion. Much like any typical person, who in a fit of rage will bang their own head (usually once suffices), crash their car, or something of that nature. One hit, and its all over.
This is very hard to manage when we are in public.
Just this week he got in to this state in the car on our way to an indoor playground. A sequence of events did not go the way he expected. It was inevitable. There was no opening for me to prepare or intervene.
So we got there, he seemed fine and even calm. But it was there, in his head, the need to go through his ritual, despite the fact that he had calmed down and cried it out in the car. Its not over, until ritual master says so.So he banged the toilet doors. I knew a storm was brewing. My other kids were in there, there was no way I was getting out without a full tantrum and the disappointment of siblings.
What to do. I tried to bribe him with things. He was OK. He sat, had a snack, and there was no sign of any outburst. I should have known better.
Although I watched my son play appropriately on the slide structure for several minutes, a few minutes later there was that wailing kid and an angry mom. He pushed some tiny toddler to the ground. Mom was livid. Admin was hyperventilating, saying we will have to leave.
I promised I would not let him in to the play area until that child left. I knew he would try it again.
Ritual master was satisfied. He asked to go back several times but I remained firm. There is no point in the punishment, but we have to do something right? He played out the ritual, anything after that is futile. He played with my phone. The family finally left after a long time. I asked him if he wanted to go back to play and he did.
Everything was fine.
Then he went to the washroom and came out with his pants in his ankles. Just a coincidence, not a deliberate behaviour. He won't put his pants back on if there is even a drop of wetness on them and he knows I have spare in my bag.
Admin lady freaked out. I had to leave. Sometimes I just don't see the point of advocating or explaining. You can't educate everyone and in that moment, I decided it would be a total waste of my energy.
Plus he really should not have done that, but I guess in the excitement to go back and play he forgot. He is after all only 6 years old.
I am finding people's intolerance in our situation difficult to handle sometimes. As my son gets older, it gets harder. He looks normal. To them. I am not even sure if I can blame anyone for how they see him. How would they know?
Kids push each other, and do silly things. I feel we are harshly judged because in the moment when I see the looks, the way people talk to me, it is anything but respectful. There is something other than complain or concern in their eyes. It's disgust or hate.
We have a friend with a child with down syndrome. She is around 5 years old and she likes my kid. K likes her because she doesn't run away from him. She also lets him look at her belly button. I think its cute and innocent. But just this week a random woman came up to me with a disturbed look on her face saying how strange it was the way my son was looking at that girl's belly button. She meant it was perverted.
Of course. Wouldn't little deprived Muslim boys be anything but perverted? Aren't we all perverted with our allowances for polygamy and no sex before marriage rule? Must be a genetic thing.
Ignorance is one thing, but disgust and hate is another.
And you can advocate to ignorance, but you can't do anything about the other two.
And while I am at it let me put down a few other behaviors that I will no doubt get in to trouble with because of their strangeness. My son sniffs any new food we give him, before he eats it. My son sticks his hand in his pants and then smells it, almost like a reflex. He eats hair. He eats food off other people's tables. He randomly tells people he loves them. Sometimes he will go behind you and try to sniff your bum. If he sees any of your naked flesh, he will want to go and examine it (exposed bum cracks watch this space). And no doubt as he gets older, the list will get weirder and possibly more disgusting to the untrained eye.
We are aware of all these things and we try to work on them, determining their function, trying to make the behavior extinct. But it is what it is.