Friday, May 29, 2009

The Secret Lives of Bees

Spring, the refreshing renewal of trees, grasses and flowers. The joy of watching everything turn green after a long cold grey winter. We look forward to it in our house as soon as fall is fading into winter. Especially Daniel and I. We like summer. And while most people like summer, I like summer so much because I find almost no redeeming quality about winter. So when the weather warms up, Daniel starts to spend more and more time outside. He has free reign about going in and out. He's never been "a runner". He knows his boundaries and sticks too them. For this we are extremely blessed. He won't leave our property. But goes in and out of the house sitting on the porch singing, or on the trampoline or swing set. It's very relaxing. Until IT starts. IT is the bees and mosquitoes. . . and boy are they back in town.

I find it amazing how my selective memory seems to work. I can't remember if we have this problem every year and slowly we get him more comfortable with being outside with the little creatures. Or if it is a particularly bad year this year. On Memorial Day is was a gorgeous day here in E.L. and we spent most of the day out on our deck. Our deck is easily 10 degrees hotter than the air temp in the front of our house and on this day it was cooler, so the deck felt perfect. Todd's parents came over and we sat outside talking. The boys were going to eat lunch outside. But as soon as Daniel went out with his food. The bees started flying around. Bees are right up there with his other greatest fear. The Belle Tire guy which I talked about here and here. So the bees are back and with it Daniel's anxiety's have been raised one hundred fold. He was so panicked he spent that whole beautiful day inside. It broke my heart. I know how badly he wanted to come outside but he was just too scared.

We have talked many many times about putting a screened porch on the back of our house. It would solve many problems. For one, our deck gets so hot, once mid June comes you can barely be on it during the day. At night you can't because the mosquitoes get so bad. So the screened porch would really solve both of these problems. My friend and neighbor is having one built as I write this. I am having major porch envy. Last weekend I was at another friends for a BBQ and they have one too. Envy. It just isn't an option for us right now. We don't have the money and with other things looming (like a new roof) it's not a good time. How do we help him deal with his fear of bees? If anyone has any thoughts I'd love to hear from you.

I have tried to find out what it is that scares him, because he's never been stung. We had a talk about it, but he gets so upset at the mention of "bees" he goes right back to that place of panic. I found this segment in the book "Sensory Perceptual Issues in Autism and Aspergers". It explains that "perceptual thinkers can experience thought as a reality. It means that when they think about something, they relive it visually, auditorially, etc and emotionally." (ONeill 1999). This is why when we bring up, say, "Belle Tire" he covers his ears and starts screaming because he literally relives the scary moment over and over. It's like a nightmare version of "Ground Hog Day". Same with the night I asked him about why he is afraid of bees. Hands over hears, red blotchy face yelling and crying. I tried to calm him but I want to get to the bottom of why it upsets him. Is it the buzzing? Is it a fear of being stung? Is it the flying around unpredictably? He did get out that it was the buzzing and flying around. I don't like those really loud buzzers either and from a kid who when he was 4 and our magnolia tree was FULL of butterflies, literally hundreds of them all at one time, that "the butterfly wings are too loud" when I asked him to come look with me. Yup. butterfly wings are too loud. Now I think this shows the intensity in which he deals with these sensory issues.

My distress of poor Daniel taking shelter in our house after waiting months for warm weather sent me out for an option instead of adding a $10,000 + addition onto our house. As you know I love a good research project. The next day I made a fairly impulsive buy. Here it is.

Daniel is SO excited about this gazebo as is everyone else. He says he can now "eat on the deck safe and sound, away from bees and mosquitoes". We'll still work on helping him manage his fear, but in the mean time, I think we have found a temporary solution to give us some more quality family time. By the way. This gazebo was purchased from Target, on sale for $193.00. And, no, I'm not getting any compensation for pointing this out (I wish), I'm just trying to pass along helpful information. While I don't generally enjoy dropping $200 I think it was a good deal. In my opinion it's attractive (ours doesn't look quite as good as the Target add with their fancy furniture etc. but it is useful, and not so drastic as adding onto our house. All in all it's a good solution.


Beck said...

Love it and the catchy music video! Your deck looks like it was made to have it there!

Tanya @ TeenAutism said...

Fantastic idea to get the gazebo! Nigel's the same way with bees/wasps. For him it's definitely the unpredictable flying around, as well as the buzzing. But he is terrified of getting stung, even though he never has before. His father is allergic, and Nigel is afraid that he is also. I wonder if there's a non-traumatic way to test for bee allergy? Anyway, enjoy your new gazebo - I think it was a great purchase.

Kate said...

I'm a 20 something with AS and I have a question - Doesn't everyone think that way? To different degrees? How can you think about something without experiencing it in some way, as a reality?
I am wondering if NTs truly think of something without experiencing it.
I guess I don't experience in that I'd be as scared as I was if it was happening, but I do imagine it and that makes me scared. Is there a difference?

Michelle S. said...

Kate, Thank so much for your comment. I appreciate you coming to my site! I think this is an excellent question and I may even pose it to everyone if it's ok with you. It is so hard to know what other people are feeling, and as much as I would like to step right into D's shoes to know I just can't. BUT I would be inclined to say it is not the same. At least between him and I. From the panic he relives over and over when something he is scared of comes up, isn't at all how I remember things. I am not hearing the noise like it's right there, or seeing it like it's right in front of me. Anyone else have an opinion?

michele b said...

Nice gazebo Michelle... what a great idea, and very attractive too!