Yesterday afternoon was bleak. We’ve begun the gradual process of car seat rearranging so the J-Man will end up behind the driver seat and Little E behind the passenger seat so the driver can better see him and stick a hand back there if need be.
We didn’t want the J-Man to think his little brother had suddenly displaced him, so we decided to move his seat before we installed E’s seat and went somewhere in the car together. The plan was to get J-Man comfortable on that side and then put them both in the car and go to the store or something.
So, Day 1 of moving the car seat? Complete and utter disaster.
Let’s put this on a scale. We measure meltdowns in Dentist Units – where 1.0 D.U. is the worst meltdown possible, which we can gauge from our visits to the dentist. Haircuts have historically peaked at about 0.9 D.U. Typical tantrums are about 0.1 – 0.2 D.U. I think electrocution or the sudden loss of three or more body parts would be about 1.1 D.U. to give you some idea.
This car seat debacle was up around 0.95 D.U. He went into a complete panic and fought like he was drowning, which may be what it felt like. I tried to remain as calm as possible, or as calm as one can be when you feel muscle pulling and maybe tearing in your shoulder. After some number of minutes of chaos, I finally got him in and we went home with no real issues.
The woman in the car next to us during all this (this was in the school parking lot) was kind and understanding since she has two autistic kids and has been through this all before. For about 0.2 seconds, I thought about what the other parents in the parking lot might be thinking, but beyond that, the only things in my brain primarily focused on just survival. But I do appreciate the kindness and understanding of others like that mom who’ve walked in these same shoes. They don’t really have to say anything, just nod and radiate their knowing and their compassion.
The good news – this morning was pretty much normal, and he got in his seat on the new side like it wasn’t a big deal. So I guess the moral of the story is, little changes can bring about incredible stresses and meltdowns in our kids, but they can prove more resilient than we give them credit for. Small steps, patience, understanding, and a lot of ice.
Speaking of which, I’m still icing my shoulder, but I think this is part of the lesson too. It’s difficult, it’s a physical and emotional challenge for everyone – autistic or not – but things will heal up and we’ll keep moving forward.