Lately we have been struggling with the 7 year old's growing list of phobias.
Bugs, especially creepy-crawly bugs have her terrified. If she sees one, she runs in the house like a screaming banshee (well she is always a screaming banshee, but she becomes a screaming banshee with one purpose: Escape). Currently, one of the targets of her fear are crane flies. Now, you know they are a bit scary looking, but crane flies are harmless. Only she can't get that. Big bug, long dangly legs. Dangerous.
In autism, it doesn't matter how irrational a fear is, once a child makes up her mind, it is very difficult to change. Theory of Mind, which means that she sees ALL situations with only her point of view, doesn't allow for anything but black and white. There is very little gray in autism. We work at helping her broaden her viewpoint, but it's very hard, and it can be really frustrating. Sometimes, I can actually convince her that the bug isn't going to eat her. She believes me. Just for that moment. Because, you see, once that bug is gone (because I never kill bugs, I catch them in a large plastic cup and carry them outside...a product of my soft-hearted son's insistence that all of God's creatures deserve to live) she won't remember that all of that type of bug is harmless. Apparently, the Harmless Bug has evil cousins that are Evil Bugs and even though Harmless Bug is, in fact, harmless, Evil Bugs are bent on eating my daughter for lunch. I can explain until I am blue in the face, and she cannot generalize the specific situation. So every time she sees a bug, either inside or outside, there is screaming and cowering, and sometimes running into the house.
Another phobia lately is of dogs, particularly our neighbor's rat-dog nasty-ass chihuahua. Don't get me wrong, I love dogs. BIG dogs. Tiny little yip-yip dogs are like rodents, with great big eyes and little teeny teeth....the better to bite your ankles when you aren't looking. The problem isn't the dog, it's the owner. People don't realize that dogs are not human and don't need to be treated like babies. There is a pack order that they respond to. Possessive little dogs may seem cute, but if that dog was large, it would be dangerous. Teaching a dog, any dog, to be over a human by allowing ill-mannered behavior is just asking for trouble. And with little dogs, people don't see this.
I am not in the least afraid of dogs; I haven't met a dog I couldn't figure out or let's be honest, control if I had to. The Dog Whisperer has improved my skills, but I was already pretty good. The secret is...you have to show a dog who 's boss. You can certainly treat them well, but in the end, you are the alpha.
My son was also afraid of the dog, because it chased him into our house. That's right, the neighbor's let this dog run free and it ran my son into his own damn house! I then taught him how to stand up to the little booger, with body language and eye contact. ("Remember son, I am not at all suggesting this, but remember, that dog can be a football if worst comes to worst") Now the dog stays away from JBear, since he isn't a target anymore. But my little daughter, JBean is still afraid of the obnoxious thing. It has gone so far that she refuses to go outside, for fear it is running loose. Makes me so angry. I have talked to the neighbors, and they did bring the dog inside. But he gets out so frequently, there isn't much point. We have a leash law, but it's only in public. Still, by law, you cannot let your mutt run over other peoples' private property. So keep the dog out of my yard, off my driveway and away from my kids.
This is JBean's interpretation of the Evil Chihuahua...click on the picture to embiggen...
You know I homeschool, so my kids often spread a blanket in the yard and spread out their schoolwork. This dog is really cramping our style. When I went up to the neighbor's door, the dog tried to go after my ankles, but I let it know I wasn't afraid of it. I just wish I could teach JBean that she has nothing to fear. If nothing else, mama is there. And she knows I will protect her, no matter what. That's what Mama does. I will kick ass and ask questions later. And if that dog bites one of my children, it's War baby.
* I realize I need to say that I haven't hurt this dog, nor would I. I like all dogs...small ones for other people. I wouldn't have a small dog, but you can if you want to. Just don't let it chase my kids and bark at them. Ok? Ok!
T, who wants a big dog but doesn't want to have to walk it every day