Excitability, Autism, and Tadpoles

Sensory overload is my son’s biggest obstacle to staying calm and focused.  He objects to the quantity of “kids, voices, and touching” at school.  Overstressed at school, he acts out later at home.

Several weeks ago, Liev’s case manager and I improved his schedule. We reduced his five day a week double kindergarten to four days.  He stays home midweek, on Wednesdays.

A full day provides both Liev and me with structure and routine. By adding a restorative hump day, our week flows smoothly. Aggression, irritability, and mischief still arise, but the intensity is easier for us to control.

Now we need to conquer Liev’s second-biggest obstacle to staying calm and focused.


I view off-Wednesday s as a celebration, a splendid occasion for fun. We’ve surveyed the airport, explored forests, rode skyscraping elevators, performed multiplication gymnastics, and experimented endlessly with gooey household substances.

I am an inferno of excitability.  My zest infects Liev. If he is anxious, we tempt the Meltdown Gods.  Wrapped up in the excitement of an adventure, I lose sight of my little passenger. I don’t realize trouble is afoot until the point of no return looms.

I need an enthusiasm detector hardwired to my person. A device with an air horn to alert me when I am waaay too jazzed. At home, my husband gives me “take it down a notch” hand signals.  In fact, my collage stems from a scolding I received over a recent singing and finger-snapping extravaganza near Liev’s bedtime.

A two-part plan helps me modulate myself.

First, I take a big, deep breath when I see something thrilling.  I took Liev for a walk to the local pond earlier this week only to discover it brimmed with tadpoles. When I saw their fat bobbly bodies waggling in the water, I almost shrieked with joy.

No hyperbole. The wail was in my throat.

I love toads, frogs and tadpoles.  Witnessing a joggling throng of pre-toads was like losing thirty pounds overnight (for me, at least!). I caught myself, kept quiet and discretely toe-walked. I am proud of this because I yearned to holler “OMG! TADPOLES, TADPOLES!!!” and spin in circles.

I am building self-awareness.

I know I do this. This knowledge gives me extra braking power–a split second to silence myself.  This brings me to my next coping strategy—enlisting my son.

Future happy moments will catch me by surprise, so I’ve asked my son to alert me when I forget myself.  We have a hand signal and a phrase to help me reduce my volume.

Over the weekend, I burst out in song (yay, I’m cooking pork chops!). Liev asked me to “take it down a notch.” This was an improvement over him flushing a cup of Legos down the toilet.

I may still whoop, hoot, dance and startle the unsuspecting.  I am, however, working on curbing myself when Liev is anxious. Together,   I foresee much progress!

18 thoughts on “Excitability, Autism, and Tadpoles

  1. “I need an enthusiasm detector hardwired to my person. A device with an air horn to alert me when I am waaay too jazzed.”

    I totally need one of those too. Your preferred reaction to tadpoles sounds like my reaction to lots of things. Bouncing up and down, spinning, flapping, clapping. Excitement! I’m constantly told to “tone it down” and that my excitement makes me more childish. Since I’m 22 and an academic, those who matter love the enthusiasm. 🙂 Great post!

    1. Thank you E!

      I’m glad you can relate. I think one of the most precious things a person can have is childlike wonder. For an academic, enthusiasm and passion are every bit as important at intellect. You need that internal drive to sustain you and push you in a career that can be very challenging and at times unappreciated.

      I am certain you are studying in the realms of your special interest. May that eternally boost you throught your career! 🙂

      Thanks for dropping by!

    1. Thanks Sam!

      At times it can be work. I need to keep in mind that the day is for him and not me. I would love to drag him across the countryside, to museums and zoos. Alas! He needs that day to re-coop from overstimulation!

  2. Wednesday sounds like super fun private parties!

    Your word made me remember the excitability of my old dog… a super extra dancing happy Labrador/Spaniel X. She never reached the point of mature self-containment you describe (even if brief) and would literally shriek in ecstasy and dance of joy every time she spotted one of her special dog-interests: ducks (!!!), mice, friends/people (same thing), lakes/ocean, food…

    Ps. I love you collage!

    1. Ps. Please feel free to correct the usual annoying spelling mistakes..

      I don’t know why I spot them only AFTER clicking ‘Post Comment’, no matter how much vigourously I look for them before then!

      1. I write every comment I post on the edge of terror. I have a hard time not obsessing over every word I type. So I type in a mad fury of haste, trying to get my feelings out there, otherwise I think I would have made three comments in my life.

        I’ve been blogging for almost seven years and only recently have I sought out company. I am so grateful to share and share back that the last thing I think about is spelling.

        Anyway, I respect your wishes and will correct anything I note is amiss, if you will do the same for me!

        Thanks Mados!

    2. Arf! Arf!

      I love the phrase “mature self-containment”. This is indeed what I yearn to achieve. Actually, what I mean is that I yearn to have a switch to turn it on when it is expected! My life would be bland without being super-jazzed.

      Our dog Misty (who remained in New Mexico with my parent when we moved to New Hampshire), is an excitable girl, too. I love the purity of bliss dogs have, although I seem to handle cats much better! 🙂

      1. I loved my dog’s hyper passionate personality and for knowing precisely what jazzed her up:-) Although her life had to be saved a few times due to ‘excitement ON = caution OFF. At one point she was rescued by a boat about a km out in the ocean, where she was chasing a duck!

        ‘Mature self-containment’ … Yes, an ON/OFF switch. Internal elasticity to allow feelings to expand inside and keep them calm in situations where it matters. Super-jazziness in itself is a good thing – sort of infectious enthusiasm, I think most people enjoy other’s excitement even if they don’t understand it.

      2. (There is no ‘reply’ button on your other comment so I replied to another one, hoping my comment would end in a strategically correct place, but it didn’t…. It is at ‘Mar 29 2012 at 10:16 pm’;-)

        1. Yes, I’ve got to fix that. I have to mess with the css, I fear! I’ll try to get the block quotes worked out as well…next week (month?) 🙂

      3. Thank you so much Lori! I like the way you write very much (I think I’ve said that quite a few times;-) and your meaning is always beautifully clear and concise.

        (This is reply to your latest comment… I don’t know where it will end up)

    3. I will Lori! With future comments.

      Thank you for your understanding.

      You wrote: “I write every comment I post on the edge of terror. I have a hard time not obsessing over every word I type. So I type in a mad fury of haste, trying to get my feelings out there, otherwise I think I would have made three comments in my life.”

      Ha ha… That is cute.

      I’ve got the opposite tendency: I write the comment inside my little bubble of focus on my perspective and how to communicate it as clearly as possible, and then click ‘post comment’ without hesitation… and THEN get shy (sometimes). Sometimes I wish I had stepped back first and taken a better look at the overall context the author writes in + the related community to avoid misunderstandings and inappropriately long comments from a perspective that isn’t called for. + taken a break and checked once more for grammar and spelling errors before posting.

      I suppose there is a fine balance… between immediate and dynamic inputs, and ‘perfect’ inputs where anything ‘maybe irrelevant’ or ‘maybe too much…’ something or ‘maybe I’ll change my opinion soon’ or ‘maybe there are mistakes’ is censored out before posting.

      1. Oh goodness!

        I envy you your clarity. Reading your blog is an exercise in getting to the point. Lists, bullets, order clarity, grace, style–Very proffesional.

        I tend to write like that dog you mentioned–in small ecstatic explosions. I spend half my time cleaning up.

        You need not be shy before me. Every new comment is a “Yay! Mados!” moment for me. 🙂

  3. OMG! I felt I was reading what I did last week and this week. “take it down a notch” David gives me this all the time. The kids say “Mom is all loony again.” It seems singing and doing ballet while cooking dinner and breakfast is not normal. WHAT? I am constantly in “trouble” for getting overexcited at the wrong times. The last three days I have had insomnia and for some reason my energy boost has blasted into notches unknown at 8pm every night. The kids bedtime. Yeah, that does not work well. :- )

    We have frogs in our front yard, and lizards. I love frogs and lizards. I discovered a new frog the other day, I named him Gert. I took pictures and talked to him for a while. I think I mostly scared him. When I came from the store I saw him on the sidewalk. I ran into the house to get my camera and was singing loudly “We have a new frog, we have a new frog, I love our new frog” It was 8:30pm and David gave me the “take it down a notch”. Ha ha ha

    I am trying to work on a better schedule for us. I am waiting until this weekend is over and we recover from the change a little, but I think a break in the middle of the week may actually be a good idea for us as well. If I give us a structured day off maybe that will help keep the structure we need during the week.

    People always catch my excitement. It can drive my mom and David batty though, come to think of it there are certain personalities that get annoyed with my hyper-silly-easily-excitable self. Mom and David can take it for a while, but if they are stressed, I tend to start being overexcited, which causes me to be silly, that leads to the kids and I acting excited and silly, AND this leads to faces of reprimand from my mother and husband. It is a good thing they love me and are not mean about it. 🙂

    1. Thank you Angel. I am working out a dandy response, as I have only been feeling human for the past two hours. Just in time for kiddo to come home! I appreciate you dropping by!

    2. It is invigorating to know that I am not alone in the super-jazzed department! How delightful that you can add ballet to your repertoire! My feel are all fumbly big toes I don’t think I have a graceful bone in my entire body!

      My mom alsways told me that sleeplessness comes in threes. It is odd but I find that to be the case for me. Perhaps I can only physically maintain my insomnia bursts for that time.

      I am excited to hear about your frogs and critters. I will keep my eyes open if you post any. I saw a salamander the other day and nearly wept for joy. Coming from New Mexico, amphibians are a treasure.

      I hope you have been able to get caught up on your rest and plan for your upcoming trip with your mom. We will be taking off in a week or so ourselves!

      Happy Day and Thank you for dropping by!

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