This is a dad! Ben Hardy imagine that is part of my Little James series dealing with Ben’s son who has autism and ADHD. I have finally gotten back to writing for this series again. Feedback is always appreciated.
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Turning her head, (Y/n) looked down at James who was sitting next to her on the bed. Her chest constricted when he suddenly clamped his hands down on his ears before beginning to shake his head as his eyes snapped closed.
They were currently having some chill time as part of a new routine for him that they had come up with.
After preschool he either did colouring or he sat and listened to some music or watched a DVD and after dinner he had quiet time where he either played upstairs in the den or he had a nap. Routines were important to James but at the same time, sometimes routines did annoy him if they made days feel like they were mushing together and he felt stuck. But for the time being this daily routine was working so they kept it up.
The last visit they had to the doctor showed that James was developing ‘sensory overload’. Where either he was overloading his hearing by loud or quiet noises or gaining headaches from colouring or sometimes it was eating the same food repeatedly which made him go off the food. They had to make sure he had quiet time to stop this from happening because it was beginning to make him worse and more frustrated which they didn’t want nor need.
“Baby, what’s the matter?” (Y/n) had a suspicion what the matter was, he had been fidgeting more and more over the past few minutes and he hadn’t been singing along either. They were watching Mamma Mia because James liked the songs and he could sing along with them.
“Too loud.” He muttered, suddenly shaking his head from side to side as he looked like he was about to cry, even when (Y/n) turned the volume down on the tv. Sometimes he had just been listening to voices or to the tv or music for too long and it gradually upset him like it was now.
As soon as the volume was turned down James suddenly let out a sharp cry, his hands removing from his ears to tap and hit at (Y/n) to try and get her to make the noise stop completely. James had sensitive hearing, the tv could be on low and it would be too loud for him. He hated any noises too loud, especially people shouting but if the volume was on quiet so it was like a whisper it seemed to mess with his head. He hated muttering and he couldn’t handle the quiet noises because when they stopped it still relayed in his head for a moment or two.
(Y/n) fumbled to pause the movie before she wrapped her arms around James and held him to her chest. Trying to shush him as she got to her feet. He needed some quiet time and that was always something he did when he was in the den. He sat with his teddies and blankets and calmed down, sometimes he started to read and other times he just sat and waited until he felt better.
“Alright baby, you can have some quiet time now.” (Y/n) cooed, pressing her lips to his temple as he clung to her neck just a little too tightly. His knees digging harshly into her hips as he didn’t seem to want to let her go or he thought she might drop him.
“No, I don’t wanna-”
“Yes, darling you have to calm down now. No music or tv for a little while, you sit in here and try to have a nap.” Entering James’ room, (Y/n) bent down on her knees in front of the cupboard. Gently setting him down and watching him scurry into the cupboard that was one of his safe places.
James grabbed his Harry Potter blanket which he threw over himself before grabbing a teddy and putting it under his arm in a death grip. He glanced his baby green eyes over to (Y/n) before attempting to reach up for the small purple CD player resting on the lowest shelf in the cupboard. A whine mixed with a cry left his lips as he slapped her hand to try and reach for the player again.
James wasn’t so good with quiet time because he hated absolute silence. Even though the music a moment ago had been too loud, he had been talking and listening to the tv for an hour, going from that level of noise to complete silence wasn’t going to go well with him. But (Y/n) knew if he continued to watch tv or they chatted it was only going to overload his senses even more. And he hadn’t had a nap today, he was due to have an hour sleep or just half an hour, he needed some time to calm down.
“No music.” (Y/n) stated with a shake of her head, her tone gentle but stern enough to show she wasn’t compromising on that.
“Mummy!” He cried, suddenly throwing the teddy in his arms down in front of him as he tipped his head back as he cried. (Y/n) closed her eyes for a moment to stay calm when James suddenly screamed very sharply as soon as she took the CD player off the shelf. Attempting to leave him in his room to calm down without the temptation of playing music and upsetting himself even more.
“Buddy, what are you doing?” Ben suddenly questioned, walking into the room with Lola in his arms. James seemed to be having a lot of tantrums lately but he did settle a little better with Ben. He clung to (Y/n) when he was doing activities such as watching movies or especially when he was colouring but when he was upset Ben had the ability to calm him down.
Ben rocked Lola in his arms in a failing attempt to get her calm enough to go to sleep. The two-year-old was recovering from pneumonia and was therefore coughing and wheezing a lot. He had her resting on his chest, her head on his shoulder as he had her fluffy Winnie the Pooh blanket tucked tightly around her to keep her warm. She had her hand gripping his shirt as she had her eyes wide open and staring at him to show she wasn’t going to sleep just yet.
He moved and sat down on James’ bed, his eyes glancing between his boy and his wife to see what the problem was. Sighing when he noticed the CD player in her hand implying she was trying to get him to have some quiet time.
“Why don’t you play the raindrop CD for five minutes?” Ben questioned, seeing it was a compromise he used a lot with James. It was simply a record of the rain pattering against windows and against the ground and it was rather calming and it wasn’t music. It did get repetitive but for now, it might just be enough for him. James nodded his head frantically, his hands latching on (Y/n)’s arms to try and get her to agree.
“Five minutes. Then you have quiet time and settle for a nap.” He nodded again at her words, breathing in relief as he stopped crying when (Y/n) set the CD player back on the shelf. Scanning through the CD collection before finding the right one.
(Y/n) made sure it was on quiet, watching as James laid down with a few teddies hugged to his chest before she and Ben left the room. They needed to get James to have quiet time because the more he was around noises all day with no break the more it upset him. Especially at night when they couldn’t settle him because it was either too loud or too quiet. He had to start having breaks to calm down or he would get himself worked up.
Ben headed back into the girl’s room, sitting on the rocking chair next to Lola’s cot to see if that would settle her down for her own nap as (Y/n) went into her and Ben’s room for a while.
When (Y/n) headed back into James’ room after a few minutes, he was bundled under a few more blankets with his teddies cuddled against him but she could instantly see he was no calmer than before. He was wriggling under the blankets and his breathing was laboured. A sigh passed through her lips when his foot suddenly lashed out and hit against the wall. They had set pillows around the walls of the cupboard so if he lashed out and hit or kicked he wouldn’t hurt himself. Which was something that seemed to annoy him as he couldn’t get his frustration out whilst kicking a pillow.
He instantly stopped kicking the pillow when (Y/n) turned the CD player off and took it from the shelf so he couldn’t turn it back on. His ash-blond hair was ruffled as he pulled the blanket away from his head so he could look up at his mother. His face burning red from anger and tears before he suddenly wailed.
“Mummy no! I want it back… mummy!” He screeched and started to thrust his legs at the wall before bashing his hands against the blankets when she shook her head.
James rolled himself onto his stomach before bashing his fist into her leg which actually did hurt a bit. He started to hit her foot, not bothering to get up as he was either too tired or couldn’t be bothered. When (Y/n) moved out the way he leaned further to try and hit her, managing to scratch his nails against her leg before he started hitting the floor again.
“That’s naughty, we don’t do that James. It’s quiet time now, so you calm down and you stay here for a while.” (Y/n) left the room, shutting his bedroom door as she took the CD player and left it in her and Ben’s room. Sometimes when James had a tantrum they left him to burn out his energy and then they went to him when he was finally calm. It was only when he started to really kick up a fuss or was in danger of hurting himself that they had to intervene. If they kept going to him everytime he got angry and smothered him he would act up more when he thought it got him his own way.
Setting Lola into her cot as she was finally dozing to sleep, Ben quickly left the room when a rather loud crashing sound caught his attention. He followed (Y/n) into James’ room again, both of them leaning around to look in the cupboard.
Bending down on her knees, (Y/n) moved so she was just on the threshold of the cupboard. Her hands reaching out to try and move James as he had realised he could cause noise and quite a lot of chaos by hitting the shelves that would creak and quite possibly break with the right force.
(Y/n) quickly reeled back and let go of him when he lashed out, hitting his fist against her neck. James never meant to hurt anyone and it wasn’t very often that he did hit or kick but he didn’t understand he could hurt people when he did that. He just knew that lashing out made him feel better and released the frustration he felt. He had noticed that when Ben carried him and he had a tantrum Ben sometimes let him thrash around in his arms but not always.
Leaning down, Ben quickly slipped his hands under (Y/n)’s arms and pulled her to her feet.
“Out.” He ordered, nodding for her to stand out of the way. He knew James didn’t mean it but Ben didn’t like James near any of the girls when he got like this in case he hurt them by mistake.
(Y/n) stood a few feet back near the door as she watched Ben struggle to get into the cupboard that wasn’t made for his frame and build. Leaning down as much as he could in the small space, Ben reached down and held James’ wrists in his hands before effortlessly pulling his only boy to his feet. James thrashed in Ben’s hold, trying to fall back down so he could curl up or continue to kick out but Ben held him up to his feet.
He shuffled out of the cupboard, pulling James with him who let out a scream, still not done with his tantrum just yet. He had his eyes snapped closed as he bent his knees to try and sit down but Ben wasn’t having it anymore. He couldn’t let James continue to thrash around because he would hurt himself if he tried to hit the shelves or kick the walls. The cupboard was good to let him sit and read or play or have a nap but it wasn’t the best for temper tantrums because the size meant James could hurt himself.
Lifting his arms up, Ben lifted James from his feet and set him down on the bed. He grabbed the fluffy blanket neatly folded at the end of the bed as he knelt down in front of James and quickly wrapped the blanket around the little boy.
James tried hitting and thrashing but all he could manage was writhing his body side to side and bashing his fist against the blanket. Ben knew constraining him like this wasn’t the best idea but it meant he couldn’t hurt them or himself and he was hoping it would show him he couldn’t lash out and would make him stop.
“Right. You’re going to stop hitting out and either sit here and talk to me or you go sit back in the cupboard and calm down. Which is it?” Ben rose his brows when James slowly opened his eyes to see what kind of expression Ben had. He seemed to learn more and understand situations better by facial expressions and right now Ben was looking unhappy but with a certain calmness that showed he wasn’t going to shout.
Ben took a chance and let go of James to see what he would do but the little boy simply pulled the blanket over his head and curled up on the bed. Writhing around under the blanket before kicking at the mattress.
“Temper tantrums don’t work, James. They don’t get you anything or make it better.” Ben folded his arms over his chest as he waited for a response either verbal or action. His head turned to the side, nodding at (Y/n) that she was okay to leave when they both heard Lola begin to have yet another coughing fit. “Big boys don’t have tantrums like this and they don’t ignore their dads either. Are you a big boy or not?”
James let out a wail but he stopped thrashing around and Ben knew he had him there. James loved Ben referring to him as a big boy, he felt special and he liked being told he was doing something right or that he was like his dad. He continued to say nothing but he moved the blanket so he was looking at Ben. Waiting for him to continue talking as he was going to listen now.
“Big boy.” James suddenly whispered, tucking the blanket tightly around him as he leaned his cheek against the mattress. Watching Ben fold his arms on the bed and rest his chin on them so they were level.
“I thought so. Now, what did we say when you get angry like that?” Ben watched his boy as he frowned in concentration, trying to think what Ben was referring to but he couldn’t remember or be sure. “When you get angry you can throw teddies but you do not hit anyone. And we don’t get angry around the girls, do we?” James knew it was okay to throw teddies, he could bundle up in the blankets or hit the blankets or some pillows but he had to at least try and be cautious around any of the girls.
“Wanted CD.” He muttered quietly, refusing to meet Ben’s eyes.
“Yes, but you don’t hit your mum when you don’t get your own way and you know that. If you’re a big boy then you’ll go and apologise when you feel better, okay?” If James couldn’t help but lash out then he had to get in the habit of apologising after he did so because it would help him to learn that it was something he should try hard not to do but if he did it would then be okay to say sorry because he never meant it.
“Good boy. Now you still have to have quiet time because it helps to get you to sleep and you’ll feel better. So are you going to have quiet time on your own in the den or do you want me to lie with you for a bit?” If James suddenly thought a tantrum stopped quiet time he would carry on with that and they couldn’t keep going through this.
He had to have a wind-down time so he could get used to the peace and quiet, overwhelming and overloading his senses may be something he thought he should do because he didn’t like silence but he had to have quiet moments every now and then. The more he got used to having these sessions in the day and learning to take naps during them it would make him feel better and it would help him get to sleep quicker at night. Right now it was taking them at least an hour or more to get him to calm down, try and ignore little noises he focused on and wait for him to stop jittering or tapping the wall or the bed and let his mind shut down.
“You stay with me.” James responded before shuffling over so that Ben could climb on the bed with him.
He opened his arms to let James crawl into his embrace, tucking himself under Ben’s arm as he kept the blanket tucked around himself. He fisted Ben’ shirt in his hands as he let a few tears fall, burying himself further into his dad when Ben kissed his temple.
“No tears buddy, you’re alright. Try and go to sleep.” Ben slowly turned over so he was laying on his side with James tucked up against his chest. Clinging to him as if to make sure he wasn’t about to leave. Ben could feel James slowly tracing his index finger over his chest, drawing a few patterns and tapping against him because he couldn’t lie still with his ADHD. But Ben did notice his son’s breaths evening out as he was beginning to calm down, clearly having used up a lot of his energy thrashing around.
James calmed down even more when he felt Ben carding his fingers through his blond locks that matched his father’s except that Ben’s hair curled more than James’ did. He rhythmically ran his fingers through James’ hair, brushing it back as he felt himself almost drifting to sleep too.
“Go to sleep, buddy.”