Monday, July 12, 2010

A Setback for Micah

For the past few days, Micah has been struggling.  He got out of routine and became over stimulated.  Last Wednesday, he and Abigail spent the day at their Grandparents' home as they do each Wednesday.  On Thursday, we took the kids to Shawnee to run a few errands.  By evening, Micah was showing signs of over-stimulation.  Normally, the day after he has been out of routine, Micah will withdraw and need his "Micah time" to decompress from the over-stimulation.  This time, it went much deeper.  He was very stressed and fussy.  Towards evening, instead of being back to his usual happy self, he was crying and screaming as though in pain.  It was a bit like having a colic baby that screams & cries and cannot be comforted.  He stopped trying to feed himself a bottle, no longer made eye contact or interacted as he used to, and he was zoning out nearly constantly.  It was heart breaking!  In such a short amount of time he had turned back the clock to a year ago when he was first diagnosed.  It was as though all that work he had done to progress and learn to interact was gone.  I looked at Micah and wondered, "Where is my happy little boy?"  It was as though a switch in his mind had been flipped and shut him down.
We took Micah to his doctor on Monday.  We wanted to eliminate the possibility that there could be something physical bringing on the changes. Thankfully, there were none.  He is very healthy and is doing well physically.  She did note that he has really sprouted up in height since his last visit in March.  She believes that he may be experiencing some growing pains in his legs that are causing him to be uncomfortable.
We talked about the changes that our family is going through. Joe has been home on vacation for the past week, which is a change in Micah's routine.  In early August, Joe will be changing jobs and start truck driving.  He will be away from home 4-6 weeks at a time.  Another routine change Micah will be facing with us all.  The doctor believes that Micah hit a wall and regressed to a more comfortable place so that he can deal with the changes.  This is common among autistic children.
Micah will gradually work his way through the changes and get back to where he was.  It is a process that involves taking a few steps forward, then a step or two back before making further progress.  Autistic children process their growth and routine changes differently than a typical child.  All children hit that wall from time to time.  They get overwhelmed and stop progressing.  Often, you don't notice this because a typical child will simply focus on something else.  It will be easier to notice with Micah and children like him.  When they hit a wall, it will become readily apparent in their behavior.
So, where is Micah right now?  He has definitely lost ground.  It is not as bad as we thought though.  The doctor noticed improvements that Micah had made since his last visit and which were still evident.  He took her hand for the first time and allowed her to examine him while sitting on her lap.  Neither of these were things that he did previously.  Yes, he has taken some steps back, but she thinks he will regain them quickly and move forward.  She advised us to let him have the "Micah time" that he needs then gradually start working with him again.
We are now anticipating that Micah will likely regress again when Joe leaves out on the truck for the first time.  It may take several times before Micah begins to see it as a routine.  Now that we know this is likely to happen, we will be prepared.  We are leaving the situation in the Lord's hands.  We are praying for His guidance in how best to help Micah through the necessary changes that our family is facing. 
This experience is showing me even more that our plans to homeschool Micah using the Charlotte Mason methods will be the ideal for him, as well as Abigail.  He needs something that will be a gentle method of teaching and not give him cause to stress out and shut down due to the pressures of getting through the textbook on time.  I will write more about our homeschooling plans in the next blog entry.
May the Lord's blessings be with thee,
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