For awhile now, our family has been participating in a program at our church on Mondays. Each week we participate in a special project designed to show God's love in simple ways. We have gone to visit shut-ins, made cards for the military, participated in give-aways, and so forth. For more information on Every Monday Matters check out the link here.
Because Crash thrives on consistency, some of these projects can be a bit daunting for both of us. Nothing is ever the same week to week except his mom and brother are also present. Add to this, some of the social skills that are taxed while participating and if I am not careful, we could end up with a complete meltdown.
I have to say however, most of the time Crash has done VERY well. We use social stories, scripts, and rehearsal the week leading up to the project. I set very clear expectations for behavior as well as for what to say. Crash always has the option to sit and watch or participate and either choice is perfectly acceptable.
This past Monday was a little different. We went to a local nursing home to share some of our favorite children's books with the residents. We spent the week talking about expectations as well as some of the sights and sounds we would encounter. We talked about different disabilities. We talked about loving people regardless of the disability. We also talked about the medical equipment and how it may seem scary at first but it was just there to help.
Crash was excited to go. But as soon as we got in the gathering room, I could tell things were about to go down hill. He hid behind me and refused to come out. Not that this is a problem, because he always has the option to watch. After a couple minutes, he started crying. I gave him the option to sit next to me or in a chair at the outside of the group while I read a book to one of the residents. In the middle of the story I hear "I DON"T LIKE THEM!,"followed by very loud crying.
Crash and I excuse ourselves from the room and head outside. We reviewed our social stories, and then I asked him what was wrong. He repeated, "I don't like them." I asked why, but he couldn't answer.
I find humor a good way to help Crash recover quickly from a meltdown, so I asked...
"Did someone bite you?"
"Did someone hit you?"
"Did someone spill their food all over you.?
Crash: No (small smile)
"I know, someone must have eaten your book?"
Crash: laughing No.
"Then what's wrong?
Crash: It stinks in there.
Ahhh...we had prepared for the sights, sounds, behavior, etc...but the smell...opps. Missed one.
So I reviewed the social story about differences only I added in, some people may smell. Even if they are smelly, we can still read books to them. We are here to show God's love and God loves smelly people too.
Crash didn't buy into this 100%, but he was able to come back in the room and sit on my lap while we read one more book before leaving.
Even though we had a small meltdown, this was a wonderful experience. Crash was able to recover from a meltdown with only a little deep pressure hugs and social stories. We will be going back to read again in a few weeks. We will have to wait and see how that one goes.