Friday, February 23, 2007

Relaxation works... :)

Wednesday was a busy day, but satisfying. Charlie took Brendan to see his psychiatrist first thing. It's been working out pretty well to have Charlie do the psychiatrist visits, with this "new" one (our 3rd in as many years) at least. One thing they discussed was the next phase in our continuing attempt to get Brendan off the seroquel. I've been reading good things online about the use of melatonin to help with sleep. Brendan's evening dose of seroquel is pretty much only necessary because the zoloft wires him up too much to fall asleep, so Charlie discussed the possibility of eventually substituting melatonin for the seroquel, & the doctor gave us the green light to try. So, we've halved his evening dose (from 50 mg. to 25 mg.) & have purchased 3 mg. melatonin capsules (vegetarian ones) to use if necessary. The past couple of nights Brendan has fallen asleep just fine (maybe taking 5 minutes longer than usual) to our nightly dose of Rachel Carson's "The Sea Around Us". We explained the melatonin to Brendan advance, & he's on board with the project- he said they learned about it at school, & anything that he sees as "natural" seems ok by him. Another cool thing that happened at the psychiatrist... Brendan had been refusing to even consider summer camp for this summer, mostly because of anxiety about meeting new people (for Mindstorms camp) & some already-established OCD triggers at the computer camp he's attended for the past 2 years. When Charlie mentioned this to the psychiatrist, Brendan said that he'd figured-out a way to go back to computer camp, in other words, ways to overcome the triggers. Wow! Not only were the psychiatrist, Charlie, & I amazed (& parental units relieved), but Brendan's psychologist, whom we saw later in the day, was impressed as well.

After the doctor visit, they went off for a haircut, since the long-ish, unruly hair Brendan had been cultivating for his mad scientist role in the class play were no longer necesary :) There is an ice cream parlour attached to the salon, so the main incentive for haircuts is to bring home some ice cream, which they did. What was I doing while they were off & about, you may ask...? I have been desperate to make a duvet cover for our new comforter that has been obnoxiously shedding sheep guard hairs (the coarser hairs in the coats of sheep that are not bred for yarn-quality wool) for the past few months. I had planned-out the project a few weeks ago by raiding my fabric stash & came up with enough fabric to do the job tastefully (hooray for stashes!). Wednesday is bedclothes-washing day, so it was a natural to try to get the duvet made, since all the bedding would be clean & free of hairs... I had designed it all & the fabrics were in a heap on the floor, so I had to cut them out (measuring twice first, of course, since this is true for sewing as well as woodworking :) & then patchwork the 2 sides. I had found enough asian-type fabrics for one side & batik fabrics for the other, so reversing it makes gives a totally different "look". I was able to get the patchwork sewn before lunch- hooray!

Brendan requested that we go to the local diner for lunch. Hmmm... it was a bit puzzling because the last time we went he barely ate anything (well, except for the fries...). Brendan has a disconnect (not unique to him, I have it too) when it comes to how he thinks something will be & how it actually turns out. He loves fries & particularly the ones at the diner. He prefers to go there & get them, rather than do take-out. Unfortunately, when he gets to the diner he starts feeling surrounded by "dead animals" (meat) & freaks out. Just about everything veggie on the menu could have meat added to it, & the very proximity of the word "chicken" was enough to make him veer away from that food choice. Sigh. He wouldn't order just fries & a milkshake because that wasn't a "healthy meal" (although we practically begged him to). So, he settled for nachos, too, but was in tears by the time we'd ordered, so just after fishing a lactaid tablet out of my purse (for his milkshake) I pointedly asked him questions about one of the characters in his new, AQ-based story. That worked beautifully, & he pulled his head out of Charlie's armpit & enthusiastically told us about this baddie- an interesting combo of Vader & Naraku. As advertised, he barely touched the nachos, but Charlie & I ate them along with our grilled-cheese sandwiches & we all enjoyed our meal. Afterward we gently talked to him about what was so difficult about the diner that day, & he told us about being surrounded by dead animals... & we talked about choosing different place to eat where he wouldn't be so bothered... (but what about the fries!?!).

I was able to work on the duvet cover some more after lunch, until Cherie arrived to stay with Brendan while we went to visit his psychologist. He was so psyched to see her & she was happy to see him, too :) On the way to the appointment Charlie & I went over what we wanted to talk about. My main issues were Brendan's difficulty at the end of the schoolday, screaming obscenities in the stairwell & banging his head on walls, lockers, & windows, & my other main concern was the increasing incidences of Brendan pushing my buttons to the point where I lose my temper. Charlie wanted to check out some techniques for helping desensitise Brendan to some of his OCD triggers that had been mentioned to him by a friend who is a retired child psychologist. One of the best parts of visiting Dr. M, aside from the great advice, is that we almost always come out with a sense that we're doing our best for Brendan, that our creativity is appreciated & doing good things, even when it seems as though we go backward sometimes. One of the messages we got at this appointment is that, as Brendan gets older, he's not going to respond as well to our efforts to help him behaviourally, but will respond to other adults & peers. I guess it's a developmental thing... (& also part of the button-pushing issue). Dr. M has been very impressed with Brendan's response to his OT's work with him to help with relaxation & ways to respond to anxiety, so he suggested asking her to help Brendan come up with strategies for dealing with the end of the day at school. He thought that some of the things we've been doing, like taking a different route & trying to divert his head-bangs into me instead of the wall, were good, but was also interested to know if Brendan behaves the same way when Charlie gets him (on Wednesdays) as he does every other day with me. Since the past few Wednesdays have been snow days we couldn't tell him, but he said that if he does behave differently, it's a good way to help him see that there are alternatives to his end-of day de-stressing behaviour & choose to do things differently. As usual, we came out of the appointment with new ideas & a sense that Dr. M is not only a skilled child psychologist, but genuinely likes our kid (that really helps, too :).

Brendan & Cherie had had a great time while we were gone. She told us how much fun it is to spend time with him when he's relaxed at home, since she sees a different side of him at school. I was able to work on the divet cover right up to dinner & after, & actually managed to finish it before bedtime!!

Here's the "asian" side:

Here's the batik side:

And here are the fun buttons (also from the stash) that close it at the bottom:

Yesterday we started out at the grocery store, which is not one of Brendan's favourite places because of the noise, confusion, & OCD triggers (such as meat). Sometimes we speak japanese though the whole trip, which distracts him, & he always is on the lookout for one special thing he can get, which also helps with anxiety. This time, he decided to cope by pulling his watch cap down over his eyes, hanging on tightly to the cart or me, & pretending he was blind. It was a hoot. He chattered about what he was "sensing" without his eyes & enjoyed the dizzy feeling of turning corners without looking. He did very well & it was one of our best shopping trips to date :) While we were there he mentioned that he's been feeling really good about life lately, & when I asked him why that was so, he said that being home from school & able to relax & do what he wants was helping. And also that he was glad that dad & I are alive... I mentioned his comments at dinner so Charlie could hear them, too. It was very heartening, & consistent with the Brendan I've been with all week. He is relaxed & much less ticcy, with things only getting uncomfortable for him late in the day, as it has been since he was a toddler...

The rest of the day was really relaxed. He played AQ, we read from "Eldest" to each other, we watched some Pee Wee. Very nice & mellow. I had been internally reflecting on our visit with Dr. M & over lunch proposed to Brendan that we start a new charting system just to cover the language issue... Brendan has been swearing a lot lately, & all attempts to make him aware of it & to take some control have not been very successful. He's been having a terrible time earning numbers for his regular behavioural charting because of it & it's been kind of demoralising to all of us, since Brendan's not feeling successful, & he's also not getting positive feedback for the other things he's doing well, So we agreed upon a new system where he earns something else (some Pokemon supplemental packs) if he gets stickers for 5 days (his idea) without swearing, & then language won't affect his regular charting. Charlie liked this idea, when we told him about it, so we're set to go... & no, he didn't get his sticker yesterday, but he didi get his number :)

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At 4:06 PM, Blogger mcewen said...

Thanks, some good ideas there. We don't have swearing as such more unpleasant phrases.
As usual, your productivity in other spheres puts me to shame.
cheers dearies.


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