Friday, November 28, 2014

How big is a crowd?

Will and I have always noticed Max hates crowds, large gatherings and events with a lot of noise. 
His first birthday was loud, the singing made him cry, there were way to many people, and all the attention was on him.  Disaster. 
Last year on the Fourth of July Max was really shaken up by the fireworks, the loud noise, and all the lights.  We learned our lesson.  He doesn't like surprises.  He doesn't like when he doesn't know people in big crowds.  This has actually gotten worse as he gets older. 
Holidays are hard.  He knows something exciting is happening.  He knows there is an increased excitement, and that overwhelms him instead of making him excited.  Most kids would find excitement in the different schedule, the anticipation of a party or family gathering.  It gives Max extreme anxiety.  Most of the time at a party you will find Max playing by himself in a room where it is quiet. 
A few weeks ago we went to a good friends house for their sweet daughters first birthday party.  Max knew most of the people there.  But it was a new house and it was loud for Max.  They had a great play room that was off to the side and Max stayed there the whole time.  He doesn't eat cake, so to him he didn't miss anything. 
Max likes routine.  He likes Gerald to be close by.  He likes to know his blankets are near.  He likes being home.  He likes his cars, trains and trucks.  He is very particular with how he eats and how he drinks his milk and apple juice.  He has OCD tendencies and gets very overwhelmed and upset when something isn't part of the normal routine. 
Gerald, Blanket, and Mickey Blanket.
Max likes driving in the car.  He likes being in his car seat.  It is tight and safe.  He could drive around for hours.  He loves pointing out all the trucks on the highway.  It is familiar and safe.  We actually have started taking him for drives when the day has been hard.  
The focus is astounding. 
 Things we have learned that help Max:
-If we are going somewhere new we will let the people know that we might not be able to stay long, or even make it into the house.  Most people have been very understanding and have offered help when needed. 
-We talk to those who are at the party and let them know that Max will most likely be on his own planet, but he is okay and he isn't trying to be rude.  He is trying to figure out how to make himself feel comfortable. 
-We bring Gerald and Blankets to all new places.
-We always have a cup of chocolate milk or apple juice. 
-Talking to Max a few days in advance about what will happen does help.  For example we watched Curious George Halloween everyday for the whole month of October so Max would understand Halloween.  And it worked for the trick or treating part, which we thought was actually going to be the hardest part of the day. 
-We now can notice signs of him being overwhelmed before he gets to the tantrum, out of control, crying behaviors.  And when we notice these signs we leave, or remove him from the activity, place we are at, etc. 
-We avoid certain stores, times of the day to go out, and places where a lot of people are gathered.  Max loves walking around the mall but doesn't like it when it is crowded.  So we go during the day, when it is almost empty. 

We adjust.  We learn.  Sometimes we are shocked at how good he is handling a situation, and other times we realize that we made a mistake and shouldn't have brought Max into an environment that worries him, or gives him anxiety.  

And we laugh.  A lot.  Because Max is learning how to be himself, with all his quirks, and it is funny.
One Singular Sensation.

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