Yesterday was a challenge to say the least. The morning started pretty normal, kids fighting over the space my son with aspergers created for himself to hide out. My daughter loosing her tv privileges because she wouldn’t listen when I told her she need to get out of his space.
Then everyone happy as they decided to listen to music, each blaring a different cd in the same room at 6 in the morning (I am sure the neighbors in the adjoining townhouses were thrilled with that). I tried to get them to turn it down, but decided it wasn’t worth the fight after a few attempts.
I couldn’t get my son to eat breakfast, he wanted to eat school breakfast in a few hours when it was served. Again, not a battle worth fighting, so we left for school with only a few grumbles about not wanting to go because of a boy who has been teasing/laughing/bullying him.
This is our first official incidence of bullying due to his autism and he has just told me about it over the weekend. My son will sometimes go into his own world: wandering around, pushing on things for sensory stimulation, imagining entire scenes in his head, making sound effects to go along with the scene. He needs this time to decompress from the demands of the day. We call it playing with his imaginary friends. Well, this older boy in the before school program has taken to telling him imaginary friends aren’t real and you can’t play with them and getting other groups of kids to laugh at him. As a mom I was crushed and felt so sad, just knowing that this won’t be the last time he will encounter this type of meanness. The whole weekend was a loss for me as I have been struggling with depression due to many simultaneous stresses in my life right now and I was able to get very little done. I talked with my son about it and he decided over the weekend he did not want me to talk to the staff about it since the year is almost over and the kid will be in another school next year, however, it must have happened again Monday because he now changed his mind that he did want me to talk to them about it. So with promises to email the staff later, off to school and daycare we went.
His day at school was up and down with him unwilling to participate in some activities, yet doing others. The real hell broke loose when I picked him up. He wanted to go right to the store to buy something. Knowing, as most parents of autistic kids know, that no will set off a meltdown, I try to avoid it by saying not today since we had a school event for his sister and his baseball practice that night. In this case not today was not good enough to avoid the building meltdown. The kid bolted. I followed him to several areas of the school, letting him know I was not going to chase him and I was going outside with his sister who was with me. He did follow, but still would not come near me or go to the car.
Knowing that anything I did would only escalate the problem, I let him hide out in a corner to calm down. His kindergarten teacher from last year wanted to help, but any contact with him would have made him lash out or bolt, so the only thing we could do was wait him out and let him calm down. She and the janitor did have to ask him not to kick the glass windows and he did throw some rocks at me, but for the most part we were all safe. His sister, for once, was being very patient in waiting and playing around me while we waited for about 40 minutes for him to even be approachable. She played on some rocks and had me help her climb a tree. At this point he was calm enough for me to explain to him that this was not going to help him get what he wanted and that we should go home and make a plan for him to earn what he wants on another day. I was able to walk in the direction of the car and get him to follow me a bit though he was still refusing to leave.
We sat on a bench and cuddled for a bit, but then he got upset again because it was not his day to control the tv (we have to switch off to avoid fighting over it). He felt since his sister lost her privilege he should gain it, but we talked about that not being the way it works. This reminded his sister she was upset, so she started to cry on the bench next to me as my son stepped away to have his space again. Now having two loosing it, I want to run away myself. His wonderful teacher leaving for the day wants to know what she can do to help, but I have no idea what would be helpful at this point and I tell her this with tears in my eyes as I am feeling so helpless myself, but am trying to keep myself strong to get through it. We just need time.
After a little while longer, my son is calm enough for us to start walking toward the car and have him follow. All the while he is screaming he is not going home and he wishes he had a gun to shoot his head off. I assure him we will wait and sure enough he follows us and angrily gets into the car. We are finally able to get home about 50 minutes after I first arrived to pick him up. I am now fried and have to try and figure out if given his state if we are going to be able to get his sister to her kindergarten round up while at the same time getting him to baseball. I am unsure he will be able to handle it?
We give him some space at home. My daughter and I play outside for awhile and he is able to calm himself. He decides he does want to go to baseball. I explain to him that I cannot leave him there if there is a chance he will get so upset again and he assures me he won’t. I can tell the switch has been flipped as he is his normal happy self again, so I try to figure out how we are going to swing being in two places at once. I verify the time and location of baseball with my sweet neighbors who offer to help. We leave the kindergarten roundup at a break and run him to the first baseball practice of the season where my neighbor will keep an eye on him while I run my daughter back for the rest of kindergarten roundup. Everyone got to do what they were supposed to do and we all survived!
After the kids are in bed asleep, I come downstairs for some me time to find that his sweet teacher has texted to let me know she is thinking of us. We have a nice texting exchange where she tells me I am an amazing mom. Well, this is the last thing I feel like, exhausted and depressed are more like it, but it is nice to know that at least one person is not judging me harshly because after all I just had an entire school of students, teachers, staff and many parents witness me have an hour long waiting game with my son. I can only imagine the thoughts that went through some people’s heads. However, I know I am doing the best I can and am trying to be as patient as I can with my struggling autistic kid. I wish there were some tried and true methods, but we all just learn what works as we go along and it gets harder, not easier as they get older since I can no longer pick him up and he has more struggles to deal with. I thank his teacher profusely for working so hard with my son as I know he can be a lot of extra work, but most of the time he is a great kid.
I am reminded that I really need to get some more support for myself. I am waiting to hear back about my application to get some respite care and both of my kids are just about to get set up with mentors. Hopefully this will give us all some special time and a break from each other.
Some may be asking why I am sharing this story. Well, for one it is cathartic for me. Secondly, I want people to understand how hard it is so they may be less judgmental of anyone they see going through a hard time. Finally, I hope that by sharing I may provide someone the reassurance that they are not alone in dealing with meltdowns, feelings of helplessness, depression and let them know they are doing just fine.