Posts Tagged ‘ASD phobias’

Top Ten: Phobias James Has Conquered

July 12, 2012 1 comment

Along with the heat wave, this summer has also brought with it a wave of fears for James that I thought we had made a ton of progress on last year, which has been as surprising as it is frustrating. Ocean waves, the birthday song, the track and field gun (which doesn’t even happen until the meet in August) and boy-oh-boy, the balloons or anything that makes a sound remotely like popping (including doors slamming too hard or a piece of construction paper that folds closed too loudly) are all issues again. And it’s only the first week of July.

So it’s a good time to remind myself (and others) of all the phobias that James has conquered in the past. Looking back gives me hope that James will not only enjoy dipping his feet into the ocean someday, but that he also won’t spontaneously start weeping at dinner when the waiter brings a birthday cake to another table.


Top Ten: Phobias James Has Conquered

1. Coughing: Even as an infant and toddler James was very sensitive to loud, sudden noises. My husband is probably the loudest sneezer I have ever met, so I am particularly grateful that James has gotten over this fear!

2. Movie theaters: I think it was the combination of dim lights, loud volume and anticipation of the simulated rollercoaster that rolls through popcorn and oversized soft drinks that used to do James in, until as recently as a few years ago. Now James only cries when the movie is over.

3. Toilets: James wasn’t potty trained until he was 4 1/2 years old, mainly because he was terrified of sitting on the toilet (another fear I’m so thankful he got past).

4. Thunderstorms: Until a year or two ago, James used to get very upset with every storm. We definitely had some fun jogs down Broadway, me with the stroller and umbrella and James screaming bloody murder every time there was a clap of thunder or bolt of lightning (though traumatic I still chuckle envisioning the faces of startled passerby). I remember the day when the kids came out after school and told me that “James didn’t cry during the thunderstorm,” looking like proud parents.

5. Vacuums: Many children are scared of loud vacuum cleaners – but not usually when they are 8 or 9. It’s funny, I don’t remember when this fear faded away, kind of like I don’t remember the last time I vacuumed (thanks, hardwood floors)!

6. Lawn Mowers: I’m pretty sure this one is gone though I haven’t mowed a lawn in 4 years. I do distinctly remember James standing at the front door screaming for me to “get away from the lawn mower” nearly every time I mowed the lawn up until our move to the city, though.

7. Subways: James fooled us more times than I care to admit that he “had to go to the bathroom really bad” once we had paid our subway fare and were waiting on the platform, when he was really just avoiding the subway’s arrival (it sometimes took us 3-4 attempts to get on the train at first until we got wise). Thankfully, he’s down to  just occasionally plugging his ears when a particularly loud train rumbles past.

8. Swings: I kid you not, this was one of the worst phobias ever. At some point it was so bad that we would pull into the parking lot of a neighborhood library with a playground on site and James would see the swings 50 yards away and freak out. As recently as a few years ago he was still falling off the swings at nearby playgrounds and was going on them for bribes (kind of like the ferris wheel). For those of you who have only known him more recently I bet you don’t even believe this one, since the swings are James’s #1 favorite thing to do at any given playground – he’s even willing to stand in line with other kids to get on one of them.

9. Clapping/Applause: In my past life I was a music performance major, which didn’t go well with a child who would loudly sob in between symphony movements because he thought someone might clap. He still isn’t a fan of loud cheering but has recently made it through the performance and applause of Mary Poppins without breaking down – I call that progress.

10. Fire Alarms: On James’s very first day of school in NYC I was called to come pick him up early because he was inconsolable. I found him waiting outside with a para who explained that the fire alarm was malfunctioning and going off multiple times over the course of the day. For the next 2 years a para brought James outside a few minutes before any scheduled drill. As of last year James is able to file out with his class – without crying.


For all of you who had the opportunity to witness one breakdown or another this past week, I am still confident that James will one day willingly (and even happily) participate in birthday dinner dates and seaside swims without fear of offkey singing or “violent” waves. As for balloons, I’m 50/50.

Patience and Foortitude, Part 6: Through The Looking Glass (A Bird’s-Eye View)

January 26, 2012 1 comment

It’s been a really rough, long night. But in “special needs land” rough doesn’t always mean fighting, tantrums, illness or accidents. I often get to the end of one of these doozies and think to myself, how on earth could I ever explain to anyone why tonight was so utterly exhausting? How could I even explain tonight, period? So instead of regaling you with the half a dozen ways this evening was difficult (look at me not  exaggerating numbers – go new year’s resolutions!) I am going to just share one story in particular to better describe the rabbit hole I find myself in from time to time.

Tonight I baked cookies with the kids for our bedtime treat – it’s a fun, less rowdy activity to get everyone geared down for the evening. We were all feasting on cookies and milk at the table when I noticed that James had suddenly and quietly begun weeping into his hands.

“James, what on earth is wrong?” I asked. No answer. “James? Are you okay?” Nothing. “Okay, James you have to tell me what is going on.”

“Just a sad video,” he mumbled. “What?” I asked. I had no idea what he could be referring to since we had not been “plugged in” for at least 30 minutes.

“There was a really sad video,” he said again. He continued to cry in earnest as his two younger siblings devoured their cookies, oblivious (or just used to?) the meltdown James was having.

I started to get a bad feeling because he had been watching youtube on his ipod earlier in the evening – occasionally he has stumbled onto weird, not-so-great things (searching for trains, gets a train crash). We’ve tried to filter/block what we can and are vigilant about checking his ipod, but with the busy evening had I missed something?

“What was the sad video?” I asked nonchalantly.

“It’s about a parrot,” James sobbed. “It was really sad.”

So I got his ipod and looked up the video and my heart sank – the last title was “Kill Senegal Parrot – Christmas Parrot.” What the hell kind of sick stuff had he stumbled onto?

“James, what have you been watching?! We’ve talked about youtube!”

“It’s so sad mom,” he cried into his hands.

I turn back with a sick pit in my stomach, to force myself to watch the video that has so horribly upset James. And then I did a double take.

Kili Senegal Parrot – Christmas Parrot. Not Kill. Kili…?

I clicked on the link and watched the minute and a half tearjerker unfold before my eyes. I encourage you to watch the video as well by going to, so you can fully appreciate why James was so distraught this evening.

I hope you enjoyed watching this video half as much as I did (though giddy with relief, I mercifully kept all smirks to myself around James). How will I ever be able to properly filter my son’s videos? Is there a G+ rating for “includes dramatic music?”

Has anyone else experienced this “phobia of emotional music” before? It seems to be intensifying in James – tonight he cried about this video for several hours, even as I made fake retching sounds while reading Garfield comic strips to him as part of his bedtime reading (I was that desperate). He asked me if his glass of water “would make him feel less sad” and as I left his room told me to see if I could find happier videos on his ipod for the morning.

But let me ask you, what is happier than watching Kili eat nuts from a Christmas stocking?

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