Thursday, March 29, 2012

Stage Fright and Asperger Syndrome

It was about 5:30 and time to get on the road back to the school for the kiddo's third grade class performance. I had been counting kiddo down for the last 10 minutes to let him know that the time was coming. At the 10 minute mark the problems began. He did NOT want to go to this performance, he hates being in front of people and moving around and absolutely does not sing.

I walked into his room dodging the array of beanie babies flying through the air. With a little bobbing and weaving I managed to be able to get over to his bed. "Eight minutes buddy..."

"I will NOT go to the play, I don't want to go, I hate today!"

"You have eight more minutes to calm down and then we have to hit the road..."

I walked out of the room as he hollered "I won't get on the road!" I just walked out and went to pick up a few things and make sure sis was getting herself together to get going. She sat calmly on the sofa, shoes on and book in hand. Well at least they are not in melodramatic sync.

"Five minutes!"

"NO, I will not go!"

I put on a few cups of coffee to energize myself for this fight, by the time it was done brewing I was at the two minute mark. "Ok kiddo, it is time to get your shoes on. I need you to pick up the toys or they go away- you know that. Then go and get your shoes on and no talking back please."

He grumbles and far less than gently piles his toys into a bin and shoves it against the wall. He goes into the living room and gets his shoes... of course he hates his sock. "Just get them on kiddo, we need to be out the door in less than a minute." The socks fly across the room and I glare at him. He puts them on and sticks his feet in his shoes grumbling the whole time.

We get out the door, two minutes past the time I intended to, but still plenty of time to make it to the school in time. He runs down to the car and screams "OPEN THE DOOR ALREADY!!!" Without unlocking the car I come down and ask him if he has lost his ever loving mind. "You WILL NOT talk to me that way, I don't care how upset you are."

Into the car we all get and start the angry drive to the school. We get there and there is a huge line waiting to get into the school for the performance. As we wait the kiddos run around a little with classmates, much needed exertion before the show. The line starts to move and we make it in the school where principal lets us know that the kids need to go to the classrooms while we head to the auditorium. Kiddo looks at me and grumbles again and heads to his classroom.

I nervously make my way to a seat and wait for things to get going. After a few important announcements from the teachers and Parent Teacher Organization, the kids file through the door to their respective places on the stage. My anxiety starts to rise, kiddo has never ever actually participated in a performance. The most we ever got from him was actually trying to sabotage it by messing with people or things during the show. He is standing on the risers right in the middle. Oh crap, right in the middle, no escape route! Usually the music teacher keeps him close by to keep an eye on him! will be just fine, I try to convince myself. Sis walks to her spot and smiles a huge smile at me which is startlingly contrasting to her brother's grimace.

The show begins, kiddo did the motions- clapping and bobbing up and down when called for and... he sang!!! He was visibly nervous, swaying from side to side the entire time, but he did it.  My heart swelled with such pride. There were a few moments when he had trouble; when he had to play a chime he did start to take it apart dropping the pieces on the floor and then at the end a kid in front of him sat down and he kicked her because they were supposed to remain standing. Those moments I bit my lip, but the disruption was very mild. Little sis did her thing, she loves performing. She was a little upset she didn't have a speaking part, but was also very proud of what she did get to do.

I am not sure if other parents sitting there were tearing up to see their own kids performing that night, but I was barely holding myself together. I knew that the fit that he threw earlier was because he was afraid of being in front of people and performing. I was certain that it would result in a terrible act during the show, but he was fine and he did well. He was proud of his performance too and that was the very best part of it all.

As I tucked kiddo in that night he leaned over to me and asked very quietly "mom... did you like the show?" I stepped back and looked at him and said "are you kidding me? You guys were amazing." A small smile crept across his face and he laid down and closed his eyes to sleep.


  1. I saw your video! It was very sweet and cute.. I know I've read some articles about the differences between tantrums and meltdowns w/typical peers compared w/children on the spectrum. The unknown always is a big trigger for Soraya.

  2. Thanks! Early on it was a little easier for me to see the difference because the kiddos are so close in age, Lil Sis is like the control group. As they got older it was actually much more apparent, the "tantrums" were larger and much longer and involved other things like self injury. It was definitely not just a tantrum. Transitions are probably his biggest triggers.

  3. It's like I am reading about my own everyday trials and tribulations with Caleb. Thank you Kathy!

    1. Thanks Jeanine, its so funny because when you read about other kids that are so similar it just sort of solidifies things and also reassures you as a mom, at least it def. did for me. Sometimes, day to day can just be so tough and also rewarding, its nice knowing that you are in good company.