I mean, how many kids get to leave their house in a village of 9000 people to stay in a 25th-floor apartment in one of the largest cities in the world?
|Sunrise (from one window in our apartment)|
|And, post-sunset from another...|
|This is how we combat jetlag -- laps.|
|He wanted me to give it a try.|
|Pikachu, moments before being accosted by two Midwesterners.|
|Sunrise over the ocean|
|Singing and dancing with the TV.|
|Godzilla VS Mothra!!!!|
|Riding the train.|
In fact, both times we've taken Stow to Japan, he has regressed. The first time, he was 3, and he basically hit and bit me the entire time we were in Japan. He didn't do it before we left the States, and once we returned, he stopped doing it again. It was horrible even though now he doesn't seem to remember Japan as being a negative experience for him.
|This is a picture he drew nearly TWO years after the trip to Japan.|
Stow's older now, and he claims to love going to Japan, so I figured he'd be fine this time. Just to be safe, though, in the weeks leading up to our trip this summer, we worked at length with our OT and behavioral therapists to create social stories and to put together a bag of fidgets to help Stow with the trip.
Our preparations didn't work. Stow slipped into his alternate state as soon as we got on the plane and demonstrated aggressive behaviors and a high tendency to wander throughout our trip. It was just like last time, only this time, the behaviors didn't stop once we got home. In fact, we are still working very hard to undo whatever it is that was "done" while we were in Japan. It's hard. It's frustrating, but most of all, it's incredibly heartbreaking to see Stow struggle like this despite all of his hard work.
We still don't know what triggered the regressions in Stow. Was it the sensory overload from being in a country where just about everything is different than what he's used to? Was it the food that wasn't always as GFCF as we would have liked? Was it the stress of trying to relate to his peers without being able to speak Japanese well? Was he bullied at preschool by kids who saw his giant size and inability to speak an invitation to be aggressive? Did the long airplane ride mess up the pressure in his ears? Were the transitions just too much for him? Maybe it's all these things. Maybe it's none of them. I guess the only thing that really matters is that Stow doesn't know why he's doing what he's doing, and his behavior is negatively impacting the quality of life for all of us.
I think this has to be the hardest part about parenting non-neurotypical kids. Sometimes everyone can be working as hard as they can and doing all that they can, and the interventions just don't work. Sometimes whatever is going on is an impossible puzzle, and all you can do is keep at it until you figure it out. We are back in our routine now, back on our diet, and back at our therapies, and we are even trying a couple of new things to see if they help Stow settle back into his old ways.
Other than that, we are waiting and praying and hoping we can help him work through this. (While trying really hard not to panic). It will be okay. It won't be easy, but somehow we will figure it out. We have to.