Sunday, May 16, 2010


I have not been writing much for the past several weeks and, while I would like to say it was because I was working on some interesting and in depth posts, the real reason is much simpler - autism.  Contrary to what 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.


  1. My heart goes out to you. With just one child, who's finally recovered enough to be PDD, has kept our hands full, I can't imagine 3. I remember the days when our child did not sleep and life seemed like one big tantrum after another, life was such a tired blur. It turned out that his way of saying he had bad gi pain. I guess that was their way of saying "Look here Pops, we need a vacation!" God speed to the day when they can just tell you that out loud.

  2. Thanks for the kind words. I don't think that three is too bad, or at least it isn't to me. When you start out with multiple children (twins), you quickly get used to doing many things at once so dealing with two tantrums at once isn't as bad as it could be - you just divide the work. And fortunately, the youngest doesn't really have meltdowns the same way her sisters do.

    Practice make perfect.

  3. Glad it worked it the right way.

  4. The beach is a great place for kids who love it to relax. The motion of the waves, the deep pressure of the water, and the warmth of the sun are a great tonic when there is no fear of the ocean or tactile issues with the sand.

  5. We tend to road trip when we are struggling, and often end up on day trips to the beach or longer visits to either Lake Tahoe or somewhere coast side. We almost always see myBoy relax when he hits the sand, and I have often wondered what exactly calms him.
    I think one factor I always forget-- I am generally less stressed when we travel, and my husband and I work as a closer team without the distractions we have at home. Our whole family works together on trips, and I think myBoy really likes that cohesiveness.