"You may finish your homework or you may freak out. But you can't do both. Do you want some help putting away your homework so you can freak out some more?"
Giving TT permission to freak out tends to take any acceleration factor out of the equation. He won't always calm down. But it usually doesn't get worse. It's almost like he knows I'm going to stay calm myself so he doesn't ramp up further.
"I love you very much TT. I love you even when Mr. Wonky comes for a visit."
"Look into my eyes. Remember, Mr. Wonky doesn't like me. Look into my eyes and see me smile at you. I love you."This was repeated over and over all morning long.
"Do you know what the trigger is?"
He couldn't answer. He was still quite dysregulated. But he was listening to me. And he didn't want to stay dysregulated. I tossed out a couple of triggers. There are a lot right now. My family from out of state just left after being here for a terrific visit. Daddy is out of town for a work related training. And the whole homework thing last night never got resolved.
"Do you want Mr. Wonky to go away?" When he answered yes it gave me the opportunity to say, "Then do the hard work. Look at me. Do I love you?" He answered yes again. This back and forth really helps him calm down. It gets him looking at me and doing the things he knows work when he starts freaking out. He started matching my deep breaths and the soft look on my face. I also told him that since he doesn't know what the trigger is, we have to move on. Stop worrying about the trigger and focus on the behaviors only. If he really wants Mr. Wonky to go away he has to look at me and do the things I tell him to do. (ie. deep breaths, math problems, silly things, etc.)
As he was matching the soft calm look on my face, I made a silly face. I laughed quietly and told him to make a silly face himself. When he tried the first time he literally couldn't do it. The most he could muster was barely sticking his tongue out and grunting in baby talk. Still very dysregulated. (It seems to intentional...when he "can't" do something like make a silly face. But honestly, I don't think it is. He's stuck in his thought processes of negativity and shame. It affects everything about him. These behaviors that seem so intentional aren't and it's up to me to stay calm and not get triggered by the ridiculousness of it all.)
I reminded TT that Mr. Wonky doesn't like silly. He can't hang around when everyone is happy and playing. I made another silly face. TT tried to copy but still couldn't do it yet. He wasn't getting "worse". And he wanted to calm down. But he wasn't sure how to do it by himself. So I broke the silly down even further. (And yes, all this was in the car on the way to school with me driving and looking at him in the rear view mirror.) I made another silly face and told TT to just be silly with his eyes. Then I squished my nose down and told him to be silly with his nose. He pulled up on his nose and grunted like a pig.
This small sign was progress. He did what I was asking him to do but he did it differently than I did. He thought of his own silly. I knew we were turning the corner so to speak.
I reminded TT that Mr. Wonky doesn't like silly. I told him that he was doing a great job and to keep it up. I said he should be silly with his ears. He pulled them out. I told him to make monkey sounds.
By the time we were pulling in to the school drop-off I had a truck-full of kids making very loud monkey sounds. TT seemed much better. In fact, he offered to walk Pumpkin in to her classroom. (This is not something he's able to do when he's dysregulated. He can't think beyond himself when he's freaking out.)
I hollered out my goodbyes and I love yous and drove away. I sure hope Mr. Wonky stays gone all day long!