I'd read a lot of blogging about the phenomenon. About how kids on the spectrum (and some kids not!) put so much effort into keeping their heads above water at school, keeping it all together during the day. Then they get home where they're comfortable and can let their hair down -- and all hell breaks loose.
I read about it again just this week, as my dear bloggy friend Jess described an absolute mess of an inconsolable evening. Her daughter's aide at school later said, "When I saw how hard she was working to manage herself and to redirect her energy when the stress was too much, I knew full well that we were purchasing our morning with your evening."
We'd gotten the warning from our Agency 2 autism-therapy team leader as well, who cautioned us to be very careful about how much therapy we might be planning to load into the evenings of a kiddo who was going to be working very hard all day at school. We ended up deciding to use the start of the school year as a transition point from intensive-level therapy (24 hours per week in Joy's case) to a "post-intensive" level of 8 hours per week.
So how have things been going at home, this first week of full school days, now that Joy's recovered from that fever she had?
First off, I get the most amazing hugs when I pick her up from school in the afternoon. She crawls up into my arms and hangs on me while I hear about the day from her aide. It feels like somewhat like a big sigh of relief, even though she (of course) doesn't verbalize it. Mama. You're here.
Tuesday, the first afternoon home this week, we chanced things with an impromptu playdate at our house, a family that has an older sib for Rose and a younger sib for Joy. Joy and her friend spent the time happily in the playroom, crashing on the pillows & couch, crawling through the play-tunnel. Joy was more interested in bouncing on her exercise ball and looking at herself in the full-length mirror, while her friend was more interested in filling plates with play-food to serve the mamas, but when they interacted, there were smiles and giggles.
Wednesday we had the first encounter with an evening therapy session after a full day of school. Joy was so happy to see her barista. At the end of the session, the barista commented that Joy really seemed to be taking delight in familiar games with a familiar person. There's that sense of relief again...
Thursday, we went to the park after school with the same friends as on Tuesday, plus one extra. Joy was once again in a good mood, and spent a fair amount of time on the little merry-go-round with all four of the other kids, despite much noisiness from the older ones.
Maybe it's a honeymoon, maybe it's a fluke, maybe it will all fall apart this evening or next week. But so far, this week's expectation-shattering has been every so much nicer than last week's expectation-shattering.
I oughtta have figured out by now to expect the unexpected!
P.S. The latest funniest-things-in-the-world: the act of yawning, and the word "panda."