Spectrummy Mummy

Asperger's, Allergies, and Adventures Abroad

Growing Calm

with 7 comments

Pudding was on the verge of a meltdown.  I seized the opportunity to guide her through a breathing technique for relaxation.

Come on, let’s blow out the candles!”

With exaggerated puffs of air, I demonstrate.  She giggles.

I try again.  And again.  Eventually she joins in with me.  We are exhaling together…this is actually working!  Then she stops.

Mummy…where is the cake?  I want cake.”

Cake, what cake?  Oh, of course.  Candles means birthday cake.  We have a short exchange about the fact that it isn’t her birthday, or my birthday, or anybody’s birthday that we know, for that matter.  And- even worse- there isn’t any cake.

So, inevitably, the meltdown comes anyway, and yet another relaxation technique has left us both more worked up than before.

Now, I know what you’re thinking- keep trying, right?  Calm wasn’t built in a day.  You’re right of course, wise reader.  But the difficulty I have with self-calming, is that the self part has to be involved.  I know exactly what works for me: a cup of tea here, a bar of chocolate there.  Perhaps a shower, or a glass of wine, or even (unlikely as it seems to me) some exercise.  I’m good.

But the thing about Pudding, in all her glory, is that she is fundamentally very different to me.  What is calming for the goose just ruffles the feathers of the gander, or the gosling, in this case.  I’m better than I used to be, but I still have a lot to figure out about my little hatchling.  We know that preparing her with picture social stories works well.  I could make a visual about breathing techniques, and that might work.  Or then again, I could just make a social story about whatever upset her in the first place.

As always when I find myself up against the mighty force of Pudding’s brain, instead of looking at ways to change her, I try to change the environment around her.  I aim to create a little corner of the world where Pudding can retreat and relax.  In our new home, we’re very fortunate to have a wonderful garden.  I’m looking at ways to turn it into a sensory garden, to stimulate and nurture her erratic senses.  She has always liked the outdoors, and my tactile-seeking girl loves anything hands-on, so gardening might just be perfect for her.

It occurred to me as I was planting wonderfully fragrant herbs, feeling the silty texture of the soil, that plants present imagery that could be very useful as a relaxation guide.  As I introduce Pudding to roots and talk about how they dig deep into the soil, maybe one day I’ll be able to have her imagine being a tree with deep roots sinking down into the earth, and have her gently blow at the leaves on her tree.

Maybe.  One day.  That is the other thing about gardening- like it or not, nature forces us to be patient.  While we can cultivate and nurture, we can’t rush growth along.  With a little luck, and some glorious weather, patience might flourish for both of us.

It might just work.  And if not, at least we’ll get some tasty herbs and delicious tomatoes out of the deal- which is better than a load of hot air.  I’m growing calmer already.

This post was originally submitted for S.O.S Best of the Best, Edition 10: Calming Techniques for Stress and the Special Needs Child.

7 Responses

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  1. You amaze me. Absolutely. Every time. And not just because of the lengths that you go to endlessly to bring Pudding along, but because you also take the time to express so eloquently Pudding’s journey (and Cubby’s and yours) so that those of us whose children have not been touched by autism can understand and be better supporters and friends. And it inspires me to be a better mom to my children – one with tactile issues and one just a teenage in full glory. I hope you get some calm today and that the garden you have is all the promise it seems it could be.

    Nomads By Nature

    September 8, 2011 at 5:40 am

    • Thank you so much. You know, there are days that this journey is harder than others and especially then am I so grateful to have others along for the ride. Thank you for taking the time to read and understand when you don’t have to- the more of you there are in the world, the more hope I have. It keeps me going.

      Spectrummy Mummy

      September 8, 2011 at 1:08 pm

  2. Boy can I sympathize! I hate visualization myself, and can’t ever do it.

    Actually, kids on the spectrum have a hard time visualizing things in their mind, so a lot of the techniques normally recommended to teach them to calm down on their own don’t work.

    I wrote a post on how to help your child calm down on their own
    – let me know if you find it helpful.


    September 8, 2011 at 5:30 pm

  3. I enjoyed this post. It has a relaxing quality to it. You have the patience and hope that I aspire maintain and grow as a parent of a 7-year old with Asperger’s. Peace and blessings to you and your family.


    September 8, 2011 at 10:24 pm

  4. I need a garden. This reminds me I need to do a “Kindergarten: or There and Back Again” social story for my little spud.

    Jim W.

    September 15, 2011 at 10:53 am

  5. […] Mummy presents Growing Calm posted at Spectrummy Mummy. “As always when I find myself up against the mighty force of […]

  6. […] may remember my plans to plant a sensory garden, with the hope that Pudding would become involved, and perhaps develop an interest in gardening […]

    Harvest « Spectrummy Mummy

    December 31, 2011 at 5:30 pm

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