Perseveration

per·sev·er·ate
–verb (used without object), -at·ed, -at·ing.
to repeat something insistently or redundantly

It has been said by others that a blog, by design, reveals only the sides you wish to share. I try to be positive in my posts because so often I’m not away from here. I avoid blogging as much as I’d like, I think — because to write is to face yourself and acknowledge your fears. To write is to look at what you’ve been trying to push away. Like tonight — I am plagued by doubt and worry, obsessing on what every little stim means, where every odd phrase is coming from, what every blank stare could portend.

And no, I’m not worried about John so much as Sam. Today he perseverated on this the entire afternoon: How are you feeling, Mommy? Are you happy? And I would answer Yes, Sam, I am very happy. Two minutes later: Are you happy Mommy? I would try Yes, I’m happy, are you happy Sam? Five minutes later, yelled from another room: Mommy! Are you happy Mommy? Like a broken record, he posed this question every 2-5 minutes for the next two hours. I tried ignoring, distracting, yelling, holding, talking.

I hate it when I yell, when I feel so out of control.

Then there were a few blank stares thrown in and the odd, out-of-the-blue hand and finger movements. There was some nonsense talk that was directed at no one. There was the play date at the playground with his classmates when he refused to leave my side and begged to go home as soon as we arrived (while I chased John who kept beelining for the exit).

Well, can I just say (1) Signing Time DVD, My Whole Family/Feelings: you are headed back to the library tomorrow. We don’t want you ’round here no more, and (2) this is why I married my husband who said: It’s just one day, a moment. That’s all. and held me as I released my day.

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  • Your husband is a wise man. One day. But oh so hard to let it go. I hear you, and I’m sending you a hug and warm thoughts for a better today and tomrrow.

  • Your husband is right. And Sam will not remember this day. It’s just a little tiny step in his unique path of growing up.

    If it hang around, you and Sam may find ways to keep the preservation in check.

    What worked for our guy were two things:

    1) Ask how many times he wants to repeat something (How many more times would you like to ask me if I’m happy this afternoon?”). It’s got to be an honest question, not a rhetorical question. (Thank goodness our guys rarely assume that questions are rhetorical.) If the number is too high (100) then just divide it (by ten for example). Then we remind him of how many repeats he has left. (“OK, you can ask that question three more times. Make sure you don’t waste them. You want to enjoy them.) The idea is that it makes the repetition conscious.

    2) Turn the repeated word or phrase into a word game. (“Am I happy? Happy pappy! Is Pappy Happy? When I have to hurry, I say ‘make it snappy?’ Happy, pappy, snappy. Did you know in England they call a diaper a nappy?” or “I’m happy. You’re happy, I know because you told me so last time you asked. Do you think Daddy’s happy? Who else might be happy?” etc.) The idea hear is to deflect and redirect the thought process that produced the preservation. For us, this was most useful for nonsensical preservation.

    I got one of those techniques from a book and the other from an SLP. I tried a bunch of others too. It too a while to find which one worked with MK. I don’t know if either will help Sam, but I’m sure you’ll find one that does.

    Also, you might be interested to hear that an up-tick in preservation is often considered to be a harbinger of linguistic of cognitive advancements.

  • Thanks Kristen.

    And VAB – wow! Thank you so much for the incredible suggestions. I think the first one, in particular, will definitely work for Sam. And I’m pretty okay with it if it means my boy is about to make some cognitive leaps. Again, thanks. You really helped.

  • Yay for husbands who know what we need at the end of a gruelling day! I find Toby’s repetitive behaviours – especially when he constantly positions me around the house – one of the hardest things to deal with. It’s very easy to loose control in the face of such perseverations (will have to remember that word). Sounds to me like you’re doing a wonderful job with your boys.

  • Good for your husband! That would have freaked me out, too.

    My adopted son can make one casual comment and I go into a tailspin wondering if he’ll resent us for adopting him, etc. etc. Then, looking back I can see that I overreacted.

    Vab’s suggestions sound really good. I’ll be thinking of you.

  • VAB’s advice was great! I hope the perseverating has slowed down the past couple of days.

    “I hate it when I yell, when I feel so out of control.”

    I’m right there with you. Hugs.

  • Your husband is right, of course. My husband is good at telling me the same advice. Things have been tough lately here, too–it’s strange how they will seemingly spiral out of control for awhile, then settle down again.

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