The search ended as abruptly as it started when she found a basket of play food. But then, a new search began. She edged behind my dad's chair, feeling gingerly for the cabinet behind him. A glance from him and the cabinet was open, revealing the glorious emptiness inside.
We all knew what was going to happen next. Stuff would be crammed.
It's Little Miss's strangest quirk by far -- and perhaps the hardest for her family to understand. I don't know if we will ever completely understand why she does it... but it's as if the Little Miss we know and love completely checks out and a robot with a single-minded program takes her place. Bags, boxes, cupboards... everything -- she empties it out into a pile on the floor -- and then the cramming begins.
You cannot disrupt. Redirection can (and typically will) result in a meltdown. You just have to let it run its course and then try to sort through the aftermath.
My dad is a fix-it kind of guy. He thrives on knowing how things work so he can fix them. There is nothing my dad can't fix -- and he he wants desperately to "fix" my daughter. His heart is in the right place -- he sees the struggle and the hurt -- and like any good father, he wants it to go away. But the more I think about "cramming," the more I believe that Little Miss is, in fact, "fixing herself."
It takes a lot of work to "pass" during the day. Little Miss has ABA in the morning -- school or speech therapy in the afternoon. Then there is the hustle and bustle of dinner. And she has been making it through everything -- with better strength and control than I would have believed possible. That's not to say things don't get out of hand from time to time, but overall, Little Miss holds it together better than I think I would if our situations were reversed.
But all that pressure... it has to go somewhere. Thinking about how to explain that idea to my dad last night, I came up with a rather surprising metaphor. "Cramming," for Little Miss, seems to be a lot like defragging a computer.
You see, over time, as you use a computer, bits and pieces of the memory get fragmented. A little here and a little there and soon your computer begins to do glitchy things. It runs more slowly. Programs crash.
What do you do? You run a defrag application. The defrag application identifies all those fragmented bits (red) and molds them back together (green).
I remember watching the defrag applications run on my dad's computer. It was a slow process and if you interrupted it, you were in for trouble. But let it run its course and things would be right as rain -- just like Little Miss with her cramming.
Little Miss has no idea what defragging is -- and even if she did, I'm not sure she'd be able to tell me whether or not my metaphor fits. But until she can, I've decided to let my little girl get her cramming out of her system. After all, it's only another mess to clean up.