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Spinoff:DS/MIL sound sensitivity help :(

666 Views 9 Replies 8 Participants Last post by  Essie
So, my threads always seem to get killed so soon
I am feeling sorry for myself. This is a little long, but I need to explain. Please read if you have the patience!

Some of you helped me out w/advice on my problem with my ASD DS who has a really hard time with constant dog barking. It has improved over the past year, but it's still "there". My problem is that although my DH is keeping a united front w/me to tell his mom that their dog is a big deterrent for us visiting them---he doesn't totally agree with me and thinks I am being too restrictive. MIL has a fear of flying and has only come to see us twice (once by plane). Of course she doesn't see where I am coming from even though her fears are totally valid to HER.

So, my DH said to her tonight that we had reservations about coming b/c of the dog barking. She actually offered for us to stay somewhere else (she'd pay), before offering to board that damned dog at a kennel. DH said what's the point of us coming if we don't stay w/you? Then he went on a major rant about how she won't come see us and how it made him so angry. MIL called back and offered to keep the dog in the back yard and their bd room the whole time if we come. Then, DH told me that MIL said that she guessed "I" was the one putting the restrictions on this trip.

I almost said ok to the offer. But now I feel like this bitch b/c "I" am looking out for my kid. A pp to my other thread about this said that her MIL would accomodate them in any way as long as they visited. I think this is the way it should be! I'm so angry b/c DH and MIL don't seem to "get it". DH thinks we should not keep DS in a bubble. I am not that kind of parent! I only know that this dog is annoying, and it's possible that even if he's put in another room my DS will be uncomfortable.

Why do I feel like I should give in? Who knows, we could have a fine time if we go. I think I am mostly angry that MIL is not offering to put the dog in a daycare but she would pay for US to stay in a motel! Why doesn't DH see this???? At the same time he's angry at his mom but still pissed at me AND he still wants to go even though he's furious that MIL won't make the trip here? I feel like I am losing my mind. This is too much work.

Please, if anyone can shed some outsiders advice or opinion on this I woul d be so grateful.

signed, Exhausted and feeling alone.
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You aren't putting him in a bubble. You are protecting him from a clear trigger. How much fun with the trip be for him if he is miserable and afraid the whole time? You aren't being overprotective, either, IMO. You're saving your child, yourself and the rest of the family a lot of misery! I know my son reacts to his triggers through 'meltdowns' and they can really put a crimp in your day, to put it *very* mildly. Why would you want to go through that if you don't have to? You've identified a trigger ~ you're being perfectly reasonable and proactive by working to avoid it whenever you can!

Originally Posted by jessielove
You aren't putting him in a bubble. You are protecting him from a clear trigger. How much fun with the trip be for him if he is miserable and afraid the whole time? You aren't being overprotective, either, IMO. You're saving your child, yourself and the rest of the family a lot of misery! I know my son reacts to his triggers through 'meltdowns' and they can really put a crimp in your day, to put it *very* mildly. Why would you want to go through that if you don't have to? You've identified a trigger ~ you're being perfectly reasonable and proactive by working to avoid it whenever you can!
EXACTLY. I'm sorry, your MIL and dh are the ones who are wrong here. And quite frankly, not respecting your child's needs.

Dh and I had to go into marriage counseling to hash out a lot of this stuff, to be perfectly honest. He was doing that whole "treat him like he's normal and nothing is going on" crap, which of course resulted in disaster. Yes, you need to treat your child like he's normal as much as you can, but the fact remains that you NEED to make accommodations a LOT, that's just the reality of living with autism.

Dh and I did the rounds quite a bit on stuff like that. If it wasn't for our marital counselor stepping in and saying, "hold on, you can't have that attitude, it's wrong and your wife isn't nuts," I don't know what we would have done.

Stick to your guns, screw your MIL and her crappy attitude. Your child comes first.
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First, be happy that your dh is trying to be on your side. It isn't easy for him to be caught between wife and mother - either way, he's going to end up with one unhappy female on his hands. I say this b/c my dh has gotten caught like this and he's told me how hard it is - he knows that we come first, but he can't be outright rude to his mother either b/c he does love her too, and I can respect that.

Now, my mil has always been VERY accommedating when it came to visits and grandchildren and all that. My own mother on the other hand is the big pain in the butt about things. She has three dogs that are horrible - HORRIBLE! And keeping them in the yard or bedroom does NOT stop them from barking for 8 hours straight (seriously, they did that, I had SUCH a migrane by the time I got home!) Obviously the cost of bording the dog isn't an issue for your mil since she's offered to put you all up at a motel. But I know my mother treats her dogs like her children - actually, she treats them better than her children. I'm sure that her dogs comfort would come before mine any day. We also limited our time spent at her house b/c of the dogs (when she lets them in the house, they chase the kids, bark even more, steal their food, knocked them down, and eat any toy they brought with them while my mom coos about how friendly they are.) And she never wanted to come over to my house (too much "visual clutter" for her sensitive eyes) so we just didn't see a whole lot of her.

I say stand your ground. This isn't about your comfort, it's about your child's needs. Maybe send her an email or articles about why his sensitivity of noise is different than just not liking loud noises. Attach a little "I thought I'd send these to you b/c I know you love your grandchild and want to understand what he's going through better" type note. It might help. Because what I find is that most people don't get what you're going through or dealing with unless they've got a child who is similar.
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Sorry to hear it's still going so roughly.

First, some explanation since you asked for that. I'm not saying your MIL is right at all, but I can understand her side. She probably looks upon her dogs are her children currently and fears that a kennel would traumatize them. Some dogs truly are traumatized by being taken from their homes and put in a kennel.

I know how frustrating it is to have a MIL who plays these types of games. We moved 800 miles away from mine for several reasons, but one reason was that I saw her interference rapidly leading to the demise of my marriage. They still get involved too much, but I don't have to deal with it nearly as often now. I tell you this background so you'll know where I'm coming from when I say the following:

As annoying as she's being I think you should go on the visit with the stipulation that she'll keep the dog in the bedroom or backyard the whole time you're there. It seems to me that is she trying to work with you on this. You husband doesn't seem to truly understand what the problem is so can you really expect his mother to understand? Especially if she lives far away and doesn't see your son's problems on a daily basis?

In response to your MIL saying that she guessed you were putting restrictions on the trip I would just tell her "yes." You are going to have to deal with this type of situation in other ways in your son's life. You are going to have to be the "bitch" many more times I suspect. Unfortunately, you are just going to have to take on that label and wear it with some pride. Even try to think of ways to joke about it. Laughter can go a long way toward diffusing tense situations.
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I may be in a minority here, but I do see a positive thing to build on: the fact that your MIL offered to pay for you to stay in a motel. If you can find one that is not sensorily challenging, then I think this could actually be a really good compromise and a way forward. Family visits can be challenging. I am one of five children and one of my brothers (who I now think has undiagnosed sensory issues) has a VERY hard time at family visits because with all of us home it is complete mayhem. He's very inflexible and needs his routine and it is just torture for him. My parents pay for him to stay at a local motel at family Christmasses and it is a huge help to everyone: it's a form of respecting his needs, not a way to isolate or exclude him, and it makes it much easier for him to participate in the family event on his own terms. He is in his early thirties, and there are five of us between 38 and 22 as well as five grandkids ranging from nine to two. My brother shows up for lunch and part of each afternoon and he is GREAT company when he is able to visit on terms that are comfortable for him.

The biggest obstacle to taking up this offer, of course, would be that dh rejected it and seems uncomfortable with it. It sounds as though your dh is still in some denial, and in mourning for the life he might have if he had the child he was expecting. He still wants to think that things could be the way he imagined them. It's presumptuous of me to claim to know how he feels on the basis of reading two threads, of course, and I'm sure you have better insight. Maybe you could tell him the story about my brother and suggest that this is actually a really kind and generous offer from his mother? Then you get to be not the bad guy too: you're a bridge builder rather than someone creating division. I'm sure it's not just the dog, either, for your son at your MIL's house. You might have an easier time maintaining his routines at a motel: then you could meet up with your MIL for the parts of the day when he is at his best and have a really nice family visit with less stress for everyone. Of course your dh could also head over and hang out with your MIL at other times, and even if you're worried that she might sway him or they might gang up on you, it will probably be really good for them to have some mother/son time, and it might help your MIL in understanding what is going on in your family.

I hope my perspective is some help, even if you don't like my suggestion!

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I read your other post but I really don't have any productive advice... sorry
I have had my share of terrible MIL incidents so I know how much it sucks.

Ditto to what Finch said too.

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I agree with Finch. Stick to your guns on this one. Visiting relatives is wonderful, but not at the expense of your sanity & your son's emotional/mental well being. Also, I am a dog lover (have done dog rescue in the past), but even I make arrangements for my four-legged babies when relatives visit who just don't care for dogs. Although your mil may think that confining the dog to a bedroom & yard during your visit will help, it will be more confusing to the dog than anything. As far as he/she is concerned the entire house is his/her territory, so if he/she is prone to barking it will just be worse and will most likely exacerbate any negative behaviors he/she may be prone to. Mil will be seriously frazzled & no one will enjoy the visit.

As far as the motel goes, if your son doesn't have major issues with new places, smells, and textures - thinking about those lovely motel bedspreads especially - the motel might not be bad. I think that your mil probably believes that she is being generous, but it shows that she really has no clue. My counter offer might be ok, we'll stay in the motel next visit if you fly down here for this visit. I think that finding a way to connect her inability to fly to your son's inability to deal with the barking dog & anything else that might crop up during a stay at her house or a motel will be key. If she can be made to understand great, if not, I guess I would refuse to even discuss the issue with dh further. My response would simply be "Either the dog goes elsewhere or we don't visit. Mil is welcome in our house and how she decides to travel here is her business." I would give that response each and every time he brings it up. Put it in writing & give it to him as well as to her. Describe in detail what your son goes through when he has to deal with loud noises (specifically a dog barking) - if writing about what it does to him makes you cry, it might affect mil.

Try not to worry about being the bad guy. You aren't doing this because you despise your mil, aren't trying to keep your dh from his family, you are doing this because you love your son and want what is best for him.
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You all have been such a great help. Such insight and good ideas, words of wisdom. I started to quote posts, but there were so many points I agreed with it took up too much room! I just want to say I really appreciate all of the input here! I started to feel like I suddenly had so many close friends that I could talk to...

Anyway. Many of you may be dissappointed in me because I decided that we would go under the terms that the dog would be confined to the bedroom and backyard when DS is around. I told DH that I am leary about how it will be for DS, because he HAS come a very long way with OT, etc. But I know that dogs barking (esp. yippy high pitched barks) is an issue. I said that if there are any effects b/c of the dog on DS we are LEAVING and I stand firm on this. If anything, I want to have DS be okay. If he's not I will not put him through hell b/c MIL is too selfish to use another solution. I want DH and MIL to see that if this *is* still an issue after a year+ then we just can't visit anymore.

I am just so disgusted that MIL doesn't get it. Noodlesmom: I totally agree with your point about finding a way to connect MIL's inability to fly vs.DS's inability to deal with the barking dog & other issues that could arise. I wish I could just say to her: "well, how would you feel if I said your past panic attacks and anxiety are things you have to face, YOU can't just live in a bubble. And furthermore, get over it! just get yourself on a plane and deal with it!

In a way I felt like I caved when I agreed to do this, but I am looking at it as a test. If we have the same bad experience as last time, I am serious about bailing and I plan to tell MIL before we arrive. That way, I will not be putting DH in the middle (ugh) and DS may do great. If he doesn't, I will take him with me and we will be outta there. Not worth it.

So, I hope I have made the right decision. I feel sad still b/c I really don't get if DH is in denial about DS. I asked him flat out, but he said no. I don't know if maybe he just doesn't remember how bad it was last visit b/c he had a knarly flu. But...time will tell. We are scheduled to go in late June, and we are taking Southwest so we can cancel or change our flight if needed.

Again, I welcome any support/advice/insight. You have all been a great support so far and I thank you.
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Almost forgot:

this is a great paper that Temple Grandin wrote. I plan to send excerpts of it to MIL in a few weeks

My hearing is like having a sound amplifier set on maximum loudness. My ears are like a microphone that picks up and amplifies sound. I have two choices: 1) turn my ears on and get deluged with sound or 2) shut my ears off. Mother told me that sometimes I acted like I was deaf. Hearing tests indicated that my hearing was normal. I can't modulate incoming auditory stimulation. I discovered that I could shut out painful sounds by engaging in rhythmic stereotypical autistic behavior. Sometimes I "tune out". For example, I will be listening to a favorite song on the car radio and then later realize that I tuned out and missed half of the song. In college, I had to constantly take notes to prevent tuning out.

The fear of a noise that hurts the ears is often the cause of many bad behaviors and tantrums. Many bad behaviors are triggered due to anticipation of being subjected to a painful noise. The bad behaviors can occur hours before the noise. Autistic children and adults may fear dogs or babies because barking dogs or crying babies may hurt their ears. Dogs and babies are unpredictable, and they can make a hurtful noise without warning.

This ought to open her eyes a little.
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