Gesserine is generally well behaved and strives hard to use her manners. On most any given day she is respectful, courteous, helpful, gentle, and hard working. While not perfect, she certainly tries her best and most people would say she was a very well behaved little girl. But occasionally she will have what I call a melt down where she gets very angry and aggressive. It's scary because she becomes unreasonable and uncontrollable and seems almost like an entirely different person.
Parents of children with special needs have probably gone through similar situations and totally understand what I am going through. I call these episodes "melt downs" rather than "tantrums" because they are not simply born out of disagreements and wanting to get one's way. These "melt downs" generally do not happen during times you might think of like telling them to do their chores, stop playing a game, or go to bed. No, they are random and over things that seem of little consequence. For instance 99% of the time Gess follows me at the grocery store while pushing the cart. It's what we do. It's routine, but suddenly one day she decides she doesn't want to go down that row and goes ballistic if you don't agree. It's not because she wants something somewhere else or is afraid of something on that row. It's just random. I don't even know where that comes from.
For us it generally happens when Gess has been taking medications, usually antihistamines and/or decongestants. I have discussed Gess' Allergy Medications and Behavior Problems before. So in our case we know what the answer is but sometimes stopping the medication is not an option, like when Gess has bronchitis or pneumonia. You just have to work through it and deal with what comes, but boy it is embarrassing when that melt down happens in a public place.
I will have to say that the ladies on the row we were on were rather gracious. They gently moved out of the way and continued their conversation. I have no clue what they were talking about, but at least there were not stops, stares or criticism. Maybe all this work towards awareness is finally getting us somewhere. For parents who do not know what to do, ignoring it is usually best, at least to me. Those who try to help only make it worse and showing your disgust doesn't help anyone, especially yourself.
Whether or not Gess could control the melt down, she will suffer the consequences. I want to try to stress to her that while the feelings she has may not be controllable the actions she takes are. Her computer privileges have been taken away and now she has to earn her new password before she can log on. Her hint is "hitting is bad" so that will at least remind her why she lost it to begin with. It still freaks me out that she hit me at all as she is just not the violent type.
I am going to look into some therapy bottles (an idea Chelsie shared with me) to help calm her down and might look for other small portable tools that will help ease aggression or divert the problem as well. That's my next mission and I would love it if you would share with me any things that have worked for you and your child. In the meantime I will get to making that bottle and hopefully blog about it soon.