some people will tell you, autism is a disability that can cause significant disruptions in day to day life and, for the past three months, we have been having a disrupted life.
The problems started back in February with Twin A having an increase in irritability, a decrease in attention, problems sleeping, and the return of self injurious behaviors. A few weeks after that, Twin B got into the act with increased agitation and the nice habit of waking up screaming every night (and I do mean every single night). Baby C is, of course, the (relatively) perfect little angle. She does not have as many behavior problems as her sisters do. If she were my only exposure to what autism looks like, I think I might have a very different picture of what autism is.
We tried everything that we could to get the behaviors under control. We changed sleeping habits, we took them off the nutritional supplements that can increase irritability, we tried every behavioral strategy that our team suggested, and we tried traditional parenting techniques of using rewards and punishments. None of it seemed to make a difference and, as the weeks of problems and sleepless nights built up, my available time for writing went down.
But we may have finally hit on a solution - we took a vacation to the beach for a week. I think most parents whose children are on the more severe side of spectrum would tell you that the last thing you would want to do in this situation like this would be to take your children into a completely new environment. Most children with autism don't like change and taking children who are already on edge to an unfamiliar place would induce meltdowns. Well, all I can say is my children aren't typical in this regards (if there even is such a think as a typical child with autism). They were happy for the change and were glad to be at the beach.
During the week at the beach, both the twins started sleeping through the night, starting with the first night. The irritability and inattention disappeared and the smiling, happy little girls we used to know came back. We went from several tantrums a day to not having a single real meltdown for the entire week.
I don't know what exactly about the trip did the trick. It might have been the fact that they got a break from ABA and other demands on their attention. It might have been the fact that they got to go to the beach and swimming pool several times every day (time to put in a swimming pool at home). Or it could be the fact that the environment at the beach is significantly cleaner than were we live. Who knows.
But, whatever the reason, the twins went from cranky to smiling and happy within the space of a week. I think we also heard some new words and saw some new positive changes in behavior (such as pretending to fall asleep, complete with fake snoring). Maybe the cure for autism is to move to a coastal area?
So, assuming that the changes hold, the Jabberwocky will resume shortly.