No Thanks, Yucky Face

I’m emerging from my blog radio silence with a post about Jake.   I’m sure that the following will spark lots of comments and advice.  Just be kind, since I’m already pretty tapped out.  🙂

We’ve hit a bit of a rough patch with Jake.  Over the last few weeks, the only thing I hear from Jake’s teachers are, “Well, Jake had a bit of a rough day”.  It’s not unusual for a special needs kiddo to have a rough day, since most of the school day is helping him cope with those special needs.

The thing we’ve been dealing with is anger, frustration, irritability, and general crankiness. Jake has always been opinionated and strong-willed.  I will never forget holding him in my arms when he was a year old and telling him, “Mama always wins. She has to, sweet boy.”  So, the strong-willed part isn’t new, but the mini-tantrums have sailed through new right on into getting old real fast.  He has somehow developed the ability to wrinkle up just the bridge of his nose.  His nostrils flare out and his lip curls up.  He makes this face when he’s particularly mad and I’ve started calling it his “yucky face”.  (You can tell how long I’ve been a mom since I have chosen to call something “yucky”.)

This is the first time, but probably not the last, that I’m at a loss for what to do about it.  I have no idea what is causing or how to handle the outbursts. I’ve read articles on how to discipline or creatively ignore a child who is having outbursts.  I’ve asked for advice and I keep hoping someone will have the magic cure.

I’ve been trying to figure out the cause of the anger.  The things I know is that Jake is loved, provided for, cuddled, read to, walked, biked, libraried, gamed most of the day.  He also has plenty of latitude in his day for doing whatever a three year old wants to do, which is mostly jump around the house or trace his letters on his Leap Pad.  So, he’s really not being neglected or abused.

Growth spurts and just being three and good at it are also possibilities.

What I’m having to think about, quite seriously, is if there isn’t another sensory trigger we are dealing with to join the sensory and auditory processing problems.  Lately, Jake has gotten pretty vocal about noise.  The radio can only be on a little before he says it’s too loud.  A fire engine is barely audible before he is covering his ears.  There have been many times when I’m trying to find him and call his name and he says I’m yelling too loud.  He seems to do fine at home when it’s just us.  If we introduce other kids into the picture, he gets more bothered.  He doesn’t complain about noise, he just gets stressed and crabby.  When he gets into a classroom situation, though, he deteriorates.  Another thing that seems to be strange is that his new favorite toy at school is a pair of giant purple ear muffs.  He wants to wear them all the time.  They have been asking him to take them off at circle time, but he gets frustrated and they said he complains that it’s too loud.  We’ve just had his hearing checked, so we know that there is nothing wrong with his actual ears.

The problem with all sensory kids is that their bodies check out normal.  But, their brains don’t process those normal things the right way and it’s stinking difficult to figure them out.

We are going to try some different things at school such as finding him a weighted vest to wear, letting him wear his ear muffs all the time, and encouraging him to use the space designated for resting if he needs to get away from the noise.

At home, I’m going to start tracking his moods a little more aggressively.  If I can figure out what is Jake’s perfect storm to trigger a tantrum, then I might be on my way to figuring out how to fix it, or at least if there is another sensory thing out of whack.  I’m also open to changing his diet if I need to, but I’m really hoping I won’t have to do that.

For now, I’ll just keep saying “No thanks!” to his little yucky face and hope that eventually my sweet little Jake will re-emerge full-time.

Little things give me hope.  One of those things is that I have been really sick for the last few months and Jake has been aware that I need to feel better.  He has spent a few minutes every night bringing me things and asking me if I feel better now.  He really has such a sweet little heart and hopefully his face will match it soon!

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9 Responses to No Thanks, Yucky Face

  1. Catherine says:

    hoping you find good answers! Love you

  2. Dyann says:

    Sounds like you’re on the right track. Good for you, Mama, for providing all the things he needs, and for being aware of the little things that add up to a possible auditory overstimulation. You’re a good Mom.

  3. musicmomie says:

    Did I already suggest “The out of sync child” and “The out of sync child has fun”? Both great books for sensory integration disorder. My little 3 year old temper tantrum tornado really calmed down when we started to address dietary problems as a family so I wasn’t cooking several different meals at a time. Taking him off of wheat, milk and peanut butter didn’t eliminate all his fits but brought it down to a couple a week instead a multiple fits a day. You are so right to maintain firm boundaries even though you don’t know why exactly he is having a problem.

    • I’ll check those out. I’m always looking for new things to read and learn about with the sensory stuff. There is no handbook out there and I really wish there was! I’ve heard so many people that have adjusted diets and had very good success. Thanks!

  4. Bee says:

    Ah, man. Just when we think we’ve got our boys figured out, they throw another curve ball.

    Definitely look into noise-canceling or noise-reducing headphones. I’ve been hoping it won’t come to that with Peter since it’s one more way he’ll seem strange to the kids in his mainstream classes, but I haven’t ruled it out. Sometimes he’s fine with plenty of sounds – like if he’s at home playing with his Legos – but if he’s bugged about something already, the noise seems to really get to him. That’s why I let him drop out of Awana at church for the last year. He couldn’t handle the noise, and I realized I just didn’t care about it enough to make him go through something that was obviously overstimulating and emotionally painful for him!

    I sure wish I could take Jake for an afternoon here or there and let him be at my house when the kids are at school. I don’t like a lot of noise either, and I almost never play music or do noisy things when I’m home alone. We could sit around and be not-noisy together.

  5. Dinah says:

    I know Jake is young, but my nephew chews gum when things are too loud for him. Some how doing something else like chewing helps him when he’s in a scary situation, like crowds and noise. Hope you can figure out something that works.

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