The Epic Battle

We recently took Reine to Toys R Us to go use gift cards she received for Xmas. This was the ultimate test for her with the music therapy. Every trip to Toys R Us has always ended with her in tears and me close to it after multiple meltdowns prompting us to leave the store as quickly as possible. Sometimes abandoning our cart in an aisle, leading to more meltdowns and feelings of being an inadequate parent.

This trip was different. We navigated many aisles as we scoped out the My Little Ponies, Mermaids, kitchen fun, bowling sets, and so much more.

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We only had one meltdown which we were able to figure out and quickly reverse. Reine loves to dress up as a doctor. It started when she used to be obsessed with the show Doc Mcstuffins. She had the lab coat and sparkly doctor bag from the show. Although her obsession with the Doc has long since passed, her love of being a doc has not. Over the years her doc kit has grown with her. Unfortunately, her Doc Mcstuffins coat has not. Although it is at least 2 sizes too small, she refuses to give it up. Her logic is that without the coat she can not be a doc. One of the reasons for our trip to Toys R Us was to check out their doc dress up. We had her try on a doc jacket that was part of a set with green scrubs. This is where the meltdown occurred. She freaked out in the store. Why? She saw a pic of the same doc set but with a pink set of scrubs. Although the pink set was not able to be purchased in store, it was able to be ordered while we were in the store and shipped directly to our house. The pics of the doc dress up are from Toys R Us’s website.

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A couple of aisles away from the doc sets there lived an aisle of dinosaurs, GINORMOUS spiders, great whites, two headed dragons, and crocodiles to name a few. It is in this aisle that a great and epic battle took place. It lasted for over 30 minutes.  There was gnashing, gnawing, colliding, and strategic battle scenes being replayed over and over again. Momma dinosaurs coming the rescue of their little ones that fought so bravely against their attackers. The two headed dragon fought against insurmountable odds and barely escaped with it’s life. Although there was no clear cut winner of this epic battle and no true truce was signed, there was a verbal promise that we would return soon and the battle would continue in their new home with Reine. She asked her big sis to gently put the animals back on the shelves as she waved good bye to them and walked away.  We did buy their babies that came in tubes. These are great as they can go into the bath where their “Mommy and Daddies” can not.
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So for now, we are caring for them and awaiting our return to claim the earlier generations.

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Our Version Of “Music Therapy”

Taking Reine anywhere has always been….We will just call it an adventure.

Something I generally do not do alone. She is prone to wandering off, running away, throwing HUGE tantrums, racing and screaming like a wild child uncontrollably through stores, museums, zoos, farmer’s markets, parks. You get the gist.

People stop to stare, pass judgments, make snide comments under their breath as they glare at me. Some do not even bother to make the comments under their breath. I have been called me an unfit mother and told that my child is out of control more than once. I have been told that I need to “spank her” among other things by complete strangers giving me discipline advice.

Yes, I am the mother you see walking into the store whispering a prayer of protection around myself and my child. Looking at my grocery list and praying I can get in and out before the wildness starts. Removing whatever I need to from the list that is already a skeleton list just to ensure that I can make this trip as quick as possible.

I am well aware that you are glaring at me and my child by the way. I am also well aware that I am a DAMN GOOD parent. I have 2 older daughters that I prove that I do know what I am doing. One is finishing up her Sophomore in college at 18. The other is an amazing 10 yr old that LOVES to craft and to learn in anyway she can.

I am the mother that always walks away from others that are determined to make their disapproval of my parenting skills known, rather than confront you. Make no mistake, I am not afraid of your disapproval. I am afraid that if I choose to confront you, I will not be able to stop until you are in tears and attempting to apologize over and over for all the other times you have glared, made passive aggressive comments under your breath, suggested forms of discipline, or passed judgments on any mother.

I am also the mother that knows that there is a reason for her child’s behavior. She is not hyped up on artificials or preservatives. She is not tired. I have made sure that she has not been running errands all day. She is not hungry or thirsty. If we have to go somewhere, I make sure to have snacks and drinks that she can have. I plan outings for times and dates that I know the place we are going to will be less crowded. Yet, she still gets heavily overwhelmed. Her “acting out” is her way of saying I can not handle this environment. As her mom, I needed to figure out how to help her to handle the different environments of the world surrounding her.

What is causing the overstimulation?

With autism, ALL senses are always hyper aroused. They hear, smell, see and feel things all at once. Where you and I can chose to tune things out, they can not. Did I mention that is also usually amplified to them? Go to a store and take a moment to really look around and take notice of your environment. What do you see, hear, feel? Imagine it all at once, all the time, no way to tune any of it out. Imagine what you would be like in that environment.

When I asked our Occupational Therapist what she recommended that I do to help Reine with the wild child behavior, she had no advice to give me except to wait until we see our behavior specialist. Honestly it would have been great advice if we were not on a 9 month waiting list to see one.

Once again, I was left on my own to help Reine.

I decided to blog that night. What you may not know is that I blog with headphones in and listen to music. It is never loud enough that I can not hear others around me, just loud enough to tune out some of the craziness around me.

A light bulb exploded in my head….

I had an iPod Touch that I was not using at the moment. I immediately went online and started to look at kids headphones. Do they even make kids sport armbands? Can I retrofit one to fit her tiny arms? Will this even work?

When I told my Hubby I was giving our 4 (almost 5) year old daughter my iPod Touch. He was like “Are you freaking kidding me????”  He thought I had lost my mind! I was like “Nope, I have not lost my mind, but I am that desperate.”

I ordered the smallest and cheapest sport armband I could find. They do not make them in children’s sizes that I could find. My solution was to buy the smallest size in woman and to retrofit it. I found one for just under $4 online. The headphones I chose are children’s noise reduction headphones. They are not noise canceling. I need Reine to be able to hear me at a normal voice when we are out in public. My goal was for her to be able to always be aware of her surroundings but to have help blocking things out that cause her to become over stimulated.

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When we were ready to try out our music therapy, we picked a place that is one of the worst places for Reine, Michaels (craft store). My oldest and I had a full exit plan at the ready in case it did not go well. We have NEVER been able to be in this store for more than 3-5 minutes with Reine.

What transpired was INCREDIBLE and reduced me to tears in the store. Reine actually was able to stay in the store for an entire hour. No wild child, no racing, no wondering, no nothing. She actually went shopping and completely enjoyed herself. It was amazing to witness it.

My Hubby got to see the magic firsthand that night as well. We met him at a store. Reine was starting to go “wild” as soon as entered the store. I put on her music and she calmed instantly. My Hubby was in awe. She once again had a lot of fun.

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Update:

This post is apparently NOT sitting well with Music Therapists. I am being told I am misleading anyone that is reading this post because my daughter is NOT seeing an actual certified music therapist and therefore, we are not doing music therapy. I have also been told that I need to change the name of this post and my use of the term. I thank you for your comments and your emails. I have changed the name of the post from “Music Therapy” to Our Version Of “Music Therapy”. I will still continue to use the term music therapy throughout my blog.