From about a year old we noticed that Mathew was very particular about certain things. When it came to his food, the way his bed was, his socks, his diaper, etc. they all had to be the "right way." Granted, the right way took some time for us to figure out, but we eventually figured him out. He rarely eats things with strong smells, has a chunky consistency, or is not cut perfectly. His pants can never touch the floor and his sleeves cannot go past his wrists. Loud sounds can spiral him into fits and he cannot stand the wind in his face. This is also the child who was not potty trained until 3 1/2, because he held his poop for days and refused to go.
Matthew also has an extremely sensitive side that sometimes makes dealing with him difficult. He is always worried about me leaving him, missing something important, or not being able to complete a task. If something doesn't go his way, then it is almost like his world falls apart and he loses control. His tantrums usually entail him throwing himself on the floor, hitting himself (or hitting himself with something else), screaming, then rocking back and forth while hyperventilating. Now, I know all children have tantrums, but the fact that his can go on for more than minutes (the longest one was an hour and 45 minutes) is stressful and hard to watch.
Over the past year we noticed that Matthew's particular tendencies were interfering with daily functions. Going to the bathroom, going to bed, or just getting ready in the morning for preschool could take forever, because of his anxiety and the way he likes things done. Traveling to Indiana for a wedding this month was a wake up call that told us we needed to get a grasp on what was going on. We had to stay in a hotel for one of the nights, which hasn't happened since Matthew was 9 months old. The wedding was fabulous and the kids had a great time, but the night was interrupted when Matthew woke up.
Mr. Shark Tank and Matthew shared a bed that night. Going to bed was easy, of course, but when he woke up in the middle of the night upset because his Dream Lite was not working things became intense. Not only was he crying, but he was hyperventilating and throwing himself around. Because we all were sharing a room, the entire family woke up. We tried everything to get him to calm down, but nothing was working. He was upset at first because his light wasn't working, but then that led to him getting upset because he couldn't control his breathing or tears. This led us all to tears. Seeing your child suffer and so emotional and not being able to do anything about it is extremely heartbreaking.
I made an appointment with his pediatrician the next week. The meeting with her was great and she spent a ton of time talking with me. She was aware of his anxiety, but she started asking questions and I knew where she was going with them. Working with children for all the years that I have, I know the signs of Autism and Asperger's Syndrome. So, when she asked if I had ever thought of maybe Matthew being Autistic or having Asperger's I was not surprised (it had crossed my mind several times). Matthew is a very sympathetic child when it comes to others and their feelings, so I made sure to mention that to his doctor, since I know that some children with Autism have a hard time with that.
We decided to start by dealing with Matthew's anxiety and his "sensory awareness" (as I like to call it) and go from there if necessary. I made an appointment with our school district to have an assessment done to see if they can pinpoint any issues. We also found a place that does sensory therapy and decided on a plan to get his anxiety in control. So far, what we are doing seems to be a step in the right direction, for Matthew has not had a tantrum or fit in days. I cannot remember the last time this has happened and we are so happy that things seem to be improving. He is such a loving child that we hope when he goes to school his teachers will be able to see his caring and smart side and not see his anxiety and fear that we see so often. We as parents want to make sure that our child is happy, content, and will be able to succeed in school. So, for now we just pray that we are doing what is best and our son will continue to be able be strong and enjoy his carefree days.