7/18/2006

"Unusual Fears"

Yesterday my SIL and I took the kids to the pool. It was closed down because someone pooped in it, so we went to the lake instead, right next to the pool. The pool was supposedly to open in about an hour, so the lake was a good alternative to keep the kids busy.

Like I have told you before, my oldest is petrified of insects. Especially flying ones. He was reluctant to go to the pool but then when he found that we decided to go to the lake, all he could think about was dragonflies. He stood on the sand and cried in utter terror while I tried to calm him down by telling him to "calm down" and "sit by me on the towel". He kept saying that the towel was "too close to the water" but I paid him no heed. I did not want to move and besides, the sun was in my eyes making me absolutely weary. My SIL and the other kids played in the lake while all this malarkey was going on. Other people were at the lake too, but I think they were a little too far down to see my son absolutely freaking out. He wasn't just terrified. He was crying, shaking, and immobile. This absolutely angered me. I know, I am heartless, but it did. There is only so much one can take and I think I was at my full capacity. First of all, we never go outside much on account of him, and then when we DO go out, we are made fools of. I keep going back to the same old junk I guess because I never learn. I constantly have to learn that my child is not a "normal" child and I have to think creatively about this instead of "normal".

And please, do NOT say that it is perfectly normal to be utterly petrified of flying bugs. People that see scenes like this say that to make me feel better. I hate to be lied to.

So, my dear, dear SIL saw how I was about to lose it from the foot of the lake where she was standing. I was standing in front of my son, shouting in his ear (I know, real calm, eh?) to "calm down". She smoothly came alongside my son and rubbed on his back and said, "T--, let's pray about this. Let's pray that God will protect you from the bugs. He created the bugs and He also controls them. He made them and He also made them to do His will. He knows that you are afraid of bugs so I think that if we pray, He will control them to stay clear of you and He will also help you stay calm and give you courage."

She prayed. She also prayed that I would be calm (which I needed---I was about to whack his head off). She also made him pray as well and he did. I sighed in serenity when we were through, and she proceeded to talk him through sitting down next to her. He looked here and there a few times in terror, but somehow she got him to do what she wanted (it was very time consuming, I will admit) and then he felt that he needed her to "survive" the rest of the trip to the lake. If she left, I was an "ok" substitute but "she better come back soon!" We dug in the sand and then headed to the pool.

Now, if anyone knows anything that I can do (next to this) to better help my son (he has Asperger's Syndrome---a high functioning form of Autism), please let me know. If anyone gets me angry and mad, it is him. I love this boy so much, but I often get in the way of a better solution. I realize that I need help in this, but he needs a sort of tangible help where I can better deal with the horrors of outside with him. I have tried insect sprays like "off". Like I have said, he read the directions and indications and he sees that it does not ward off bees and dragonflies.

Help!!!!

6 comments:

Rick Capezza said...

Have you considered contacting your local ASA chapter? It might be good to have some friends who have children with similar issues.

Have you read Chantal Sicile-Kira and Temple Grandin's *Autism Spectrum Disorders: The Complete Guide to Understanding Autism, Asperger's Syndrome, Pervasive Developmental Disorder, and Other ASD's*?

Rachel's brother has Asperger's, and my MIL found the book helpful. I haven't read it yet, but I know from autism articles I've written that Dr. Grandin has autism herself.

R said...

I have a book on Temple herself; she wrote it and it is very interesting. My son is considered somewhat "up to par" with his peers, but still has unusual things about him like snapping and never wanting to leave the house in fear of insects, and using the English language like it is his second language.

I have NOT contacted a local chapter (I am a little reclusive myself), but I think I should.

I have read some books on Asperger's Syndrome and they have been helpful, but maybe I need to scan it for the unusual fear issue in great detail. I find that a lot of these types of books just have people's experiences, and not really a whole lot of resolution. I think since this high functioning autism stuff is fairly new, no one knows that much. My son was diagnosed when he was about five and we did the bulk of the work in that first year of our finding out what exactly was the matter with him. We did a lot of ABA stuff, he got help from the school part time and then I full time schooled him (very heavily). He made complete leaps and bounds and people could not believe the difference. The insect issue has been *fairly* new---just over the past couple years---and it has only had an affect on our lives lately.

I am thinking that maybe I should get him a book on phobias (which he loves to read about medical stuff) and let him work it out in his own way. I just don't know what to do sometimes and I get so frustrated.

Thanks for the info. I will take your advice.

Rick Capezza said...

Yeah, my MIL and the friend who gave it to her had read several other books, but I guess this is the one they found most helpful.

Rachel's brother is "up to par" but he has trouble with a lot of things like he won't go to our church because he doesn't like the way it looks, doesn't like suburbans or our church because they both caught on fire, doesn't like to bathe or socialize, and he thinks everything is stupid unless its sardines, weird food concoctions that he makes up, or old movies.

He is really smart at some things...like he can tell you just about anything about any president or his family, but recently he felt like his brain was "crumbling." He has insomnia which makes the rest of his family miserable. He holds grudges for years. The whole family revolves around his mood swings.

Things have gotten better in the last year (just by everyone being overly nice when he's completely rude or mean), but I definitely know what you mean when you get really frustrated. I think everyone in the family was fed up with him when things started to get better.

I feel your pain (though I didn't have to live with it), and I pray things will get better and that God will show you ways to show love when it seems impossible to do.

R said...

Sounds like your brother in law is in a tough spot.

My son is a very sweet, forgiving sort of fellow---very determined and has a heart of gold. He would give you his last cent if he knew you needed it. He is Mr. Joe Christian too; very black and white in his thinking on Christianity---almost teeters on arrogance, although I don't think he knows what arrogance is. He has incredible honesty and sometimes to a fault; although he wants so badly to do all the *right* things. He is a hard worker too---he is usually pretty chipper.

The negative is that he can get very negative. If we tell him we are going to fly in a plane he will say, "If we don't crash first!" He is, of course, frightened of insects that fly. He was reading when he was two years old and no one taught him, he is at the reading level of almost an adult (although he can not pronounce some of the simplest words). He speaks consistently in a high pitched Mickey Mouse sort of voice. He has no shame. He will dance around like a complete bafoon and won't care what anyone thinks of him. He hardly knows what humor is. He is obsessed with it because he doesn't get it. He tries to make jokes all the time and sometimes when they are funny he says, "What? Was that funny? What made it funny?" Things that he does think are funny are ridiculous and I am not sure he knows why he thinks they are funny. He is frightened of ketchup or any tomato product. He won't let any ketchup touch his food. He won't let any foods touch other foods except if it is a taco or burger or something.
My son does not like to bathe either, but Dear Sir puts the fear of God in him and he does it faithfully every night. He is obsessed with computers and games. When I lose him in a store I know where to look. In the electronics section!

When I school him he literally takes most of my time. He is high maintenance. I have to hold his hand through every subject practically and go over math problems over and over again. I think he thinks if we do things together he feels more stable. This makes me frustrated because I also have other children to teach. He is obviously a special needs child, no doubt about that. He is a genius though. He retains all kinds of stuff. He loves comics. He is at the moment obsessed (like his brother) with Neopet Cards and Age of Empires. Ugh. He always hums and jyrates around. He snaps. He is a total geek.

Tim has a problem with being rude as well. I know he does not mean to be rude at all because he is just so matter of fact, he just has no idea of how to socially interact with people. He needs constant prompting.

Thanks for posting.

MIndi said...

I wish that I had answers for you, but I don't. God is so good to have had our mutual SIL there to help you out, and pray for T and for you.

I have had irrational fears myself, and I just wanted to comment from that perspective. A person who has irrational fears can sometimes even tell you that they are irrational, but that does not make them any less powerful.

This is because fears are not necessarily in response to our intellect, but to something else, maybe our soul, or our spirit.

The most difficult irrational fear that I have had to work on is the fear of pastors. For years, my kids thought that this was hysterically funny. Sometimes, I could even laugh with them, but I could not make it stop. At times, it has been more like irrational terror than irrational fear. It was even worse after the horrors that we went through at our last church.

I am still in the midst of dealing with this, but I would say that prayer is the best recourse. You, as a parent, have
God given authority when you pray for your children that makes your prayers highly effective.

I know that having other people pray for me, especially aloud, has been very helpful.

Sometimes I have prayed absolutely obsessively to be protected from pastors, but that has lessened a great deal as wounds have healed. This kind of thing has made me feel like a spiritual idiot at times. I think that the fear is based largely on feeling vulnerable and unprotected, and sometimes violated. T. may have those same feelings, which fuel the panic.

Once again, I think that your prayers, while they may not eliminate the problem entirely, would really comfort him because you are the one with the authority in his life, and the love that you have for him will come out in your prayers.

R said...

I think your solution is a very good one and easily overlooked. I think the fact that prayer calmed things down in the first place shows a heavy indication that maybe I need to pray for him more.

Lots of people look into a fear more greatly and then become experts on the particular fear. Like, T could read all about flying insects and then know more about them and maybe it would help him feel better when sharing the world with them.

I think what you say about feeling violated and unprotected is major with T. I will have to think about this more and more, obviously. I just get so upset and bothered about it because I am plumb sick of it.

Thank you for the advice. I will take it.