Saturday, June 13, 2015

A Different Kind of Labora

Well, it's a different type of labora for a wanna-be hermitess, anyway!

This weekend, my husband and I are looking after a couple of kids. The children belong to our daughter's boyfriend...that is another story all to itself, which I don't think I've talked about here yet. I have talked about the girl, though - she is the one who, with no religious training at all, is seeking Our Lord! She will be 10 years old in another week.

At any rate...long story made short: we were scheduled to have the children at our place from 6pm on one night till noon the next day, for Friday, Saturday, and Sunday. This would be a piece of cake, were it not for one mitigating factor: we believe the 4-year-old boy has mild autism. 

He was very interested in these picture vocabulary cards,
though he would not repeat the words when I said them.
The little guy is practically nonverbal. He knows how to say "NO" real well, though! He's flown under the radar of assessment and evaluation because we live in a rural area where the resources just are not there, and the parents just didn't see the problem. But I see it. The child is adorable, and can be loving and affectionate at times, but he clearly lives in his own world most of the time.

My thought is that he is trapped inside himself because he cannot express his needs and desires verbally. When something is upsetting to him, he can't say, "But I want to do x, y, or z", or "That freaks me out because..." So it seems to me that when he is overwhelmed by frustration of his desires, or be some unknown (to us) fear, he has a little melt down. He yells and cries and seems inconsolable. And so you can imagine that most of the time, he gets his way, unless the people around him can't figure out what he wants. 

There's an interesting pattern, though. He goes into a full-blown tantrum. He maintains the tantrum for 5-10 minutes. Then he seems to realize he's not going to get his way, and he wants to be held and consoled. That lasts a couple of minutes, then he wants to be set down (if he's being held), and he spends the next 10 minutes recovering by basically hiding from the offending adult, and letting out an occasional yell.  After that, he emerges from his little trauma with a sweet smile and says, "Hi!" That signals that all is well again.

I want very badly for him to get some help!

The little girl is a delight. I am teaching her to play Backgammon, and she also loves to draw. She's interested in many things, and chatters away in a very sociable manner. She's very polite and anxious to please. In fact, she kept trying to get her brother to behave, even when he wasn't doing anything particularly obnoxious (he generally just plays by himself and asks for very little attention from others); at one point she said, "I want us to get a good report!" I assured her that certainly she would have a good report, and her brother's tantrums were not something she needed to worry about.

But it is rather exhausting, because the little boy can't just be put to bed. I don't think the parents put him to bed...although pajamas were sent along for him! He just crashes on the floor when sleep overcomes him. Last night that was about 11pm. That doesn't sound late for most people, I suppose, but it is for us! We are in the "early to bed, early to rise" mode. My husband and I were up at 5am, and the children are still sleeping soundly at 7:30!

Since my background is in developmental psychology, I find this all very fascinating. Another factor is that the parents are just recently divorced, and they live in towns that are an hour-and-a-half apart, so everything that is happening in these children's lives is now new and different. As children do, they are generally rolling with the punches, but I know there is an effect, and we will see that effect emerge more over the next few months.

Bottom line: my prayer schedule will be a bit disrupted for the next few days, but I figure God put me in this situation for a reason. I'm hoping for a complete conversion of the whole family, and everything I do for them and with them has that as the end goal!

Please, in your charity, pray for the children and this whole situation! I pray for guidance in just exactly what to say and do with the parents in order to get the little boy some professional help, too.

Lord Jesus Christ, have mercy on me!

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