At his last
About an hour after Tortuga had gone to bed I heard noises from his room through the monitor. He was crying. Actually he was wailing, moaning, drooling, and crying. I went into his room and asked what was happening and he said he was afraid. He was afraid of leaving our home. He was afraid of going someplace else. He was afraid he had done something really awful that he could not fix. He was afraid to lose us. He was afraid that we "believed" he might hurt us when he "knew" he would "never really do it." I talked him through some of this and had him answer each of his fears with what we have told him--we won't send him away but he may choose to leave us, he had made a huge mistake but mistakes are fixable when we take responsibility and do restitution, he isn't going to lose us, and the biggie, because we don't believe he will actually hurt us intentionally but accidentally or in a rage is another story which is why we have worked so hard to diminish his rage. He calmed down after about 25 minutes and as I said goodnight he said "Goodnight mom. I really love you a lot." I told him I loved him and as an afterthought he added "Thanks mom." I asked him what for and he said "talking to me. It really did make make feel better. I didn't think it would but you were right, it did." I was
The next morning he was in a great mood even when I told him his restitution would include his not participating in "family time" for the next three nights. (Of course he also dreamed that I was going to die and he was the only one who knew this. But he claimed he was very sad about it.) During family time he would have the choice to lie down or sit under his weighted blanket in his room. His task was to work on not getting angry (although acknowledging other feelings-sad, disappointed, jealous, frustration, etc. would be appropriate) as he heard us play board games and Wii, read stories, make cookies and most significantly miss out on the celebration of Pollito's anniversary. While this may seem harsh we talked about it and decided it was the best decision. In the past we have usually postponed important celebrations or outing until everyone could participate. I have lost count of how many events we have postponed and I had decided that we would not do this again for anyone. He seemed disappointed and upset but held it together as I told him what his consequences were. I should also say that I think he is entering the "Social Needs" level of Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs/Hierarchy of Motivation. (That is it's own post but I have referenced this before when talking about how we went back to convincing him we were meeting his Physiological Needs.) He would be giving us back the time he took up with his "tantrum" over the course of these three days and he would be working on managing (and identifying) his feelings. This is work we started to do more intensely over the past couple of months.
He has started to recognize his feelings of disappointment, sadness, frustration, and anger as distinguishable from one another on a more regular basis. His response to them however is usually the same anger response we have gotten in the past. I have been working with him to understand how those feelings are different and when they are appropriate so we all try to label our feelings. In other words, "I was so sad when P. left yesterday and I wanted to cry." Or we might say "Corazon is very disappointed because she didn't get to play on the computer. She is acting mad at me because I won't let her use it but she knows the only person she should be mad at herself for losing that privilege. When Corazon is disappointed she pouts and acts mad but she no longer tantrums like she used to." Right now his facial expressions rarely match his feelings and actions so we have been probing those as well.
When our friend was here he wanted to play the guitar for her to show her what he has learned. When I finally told him he could do it (after asking a dozen times at the wrong time) he frowned, smiled and then started laughing and frowned again. That was a good opportunity for him to practice identifying his feelings