It just breaks my heart that Morgan goes through such anxiety from day to day. It is so hard for us to manage, and so many times there is nothing we can do about it.
We took the girls to the local "Jump and Bounce" today. They always have a great time there. Because of the holiday it was packed today and I'm sure both girls were completely over stimulated by the time we left.
When we got home for lunch, Morgan refused to eat any of the mac and cheese I made. She then choose to go right to "quiet time"...but once she was there she got upset again and wanted to come back to the kitchen to eat. By that time we had let Piper sit in Morgan's usual spot, which completely threw Morgan into a tizzy. Can we say "rigid"?! We finally got Piper to switch back to her own spot/seat (I know, so not fair), but once they were seated in the appropriate places they both melted down. Morgan could not calm herself, so we decided to just put her upstairs again for quiet time. Piper calmed down pretty easily and ate a little...then went down for her nap. Morgan is still upset and crying in her room. At this point we just have to leave her there. There is no reasoning with a child with autism. Either she'll finally calm down or cry herself to sleep.
There are a lot of things we are doing with/for Morgan to help reduce her anxiety/rigidity and make her more flexible, but as with all therapies, they take time. We are barely at the beginning of our marathon.
Let me give you another example of what we see often. The other day Piper wanted to play with the cookies and cakes in our little kitchen play set. Morgan came to join us. We had a fun little game with the cookies, but when Piper went to get the cake all hell broke loose. When we usually play this game we sing Happy Birthday together and blow out the candles, then remove the candles from the cake and cut pieces for us to pretend to eat. This time Piper, being the flexible kid she is, decided to just bring the cake over to us, leaving behind the plate and wooden box we keep it in. Morgan became upset, so I grabbed the plate as I thought that would help. Apparently that wasn't good enough, we needed the box too. I kept telling her it was okay if the cake was on the plate without the box, but that did no good. With Morgan, we have to play the game exactly the same way each time, or she loses it.
There is no flexibility for our girl in her play, no creativity, no real "pretend." Same means "good" to Morgan. If she knows how it goes, she likes it. Anything new or different thrown in can cause total meltdown. Occasionally I throw something in that goes over OK, but I find I have to build it up before I actually do it, so she has some warning. This is good, but then the next time we play if I don't do the "new" thing the same way she freaks out. She locks in on anything she likes and can't venture outside it. When I play with her alone we can sometimes manage these issues so we can still have fun. When she plays with Piper it is more difficult because Piper has no clue what Morgans needs or what her issues are in this area. Unfortunately she is starting to learn this and either will accommodate her or just not want to play with her. Truthfully, it's not a lot of fun to play with Morgan. Piper is taking a jump forward in her creative play and I'm really enjoying it, but when Morgan wants to jump in...total buzzkill.
Last example of rigidity. This one is food related. I'm sure I've mentioned Morgan's beloved "dinosaur" sandwich. If not, it is a peanut butter and honey sandwich cut into two dinosaur shapes with a special bread cutter. She has a particular technique to eat this. She pulls the bread apart, eating the honey side first. While she eats the honey side, she holds the PB side in the other hand. I know...so odd. Lately we have had a few bread issues, such as one time the head just fell off the dinosuar and another time the bread was had some odd creases in it. Wouldn't most kids think that he head falling off was just hilarious?! When this happens Morgan demands it be fixed, which generally is impossible. Or, she asks for a new one. We accommodated this for a while, but lately have just told her if there's something wrong with it, don't eat it, and we're not making a new one. Depending on how hungry she is determines whether she'll have a meltdown or just not eat the offending sandwich.
This is exhausting.