Autism: From a Mama’s Heart
I have come very close to tears many times this week. It has just been one of those weeks. The stress is high, the meltdowns are awful, and it feels like we have taken many steps back instead of forward.
I sit here writing this, looking over at my son playing with his Legos, and my heart swells with pride- for he is my son and no matter what I love him unconditionally. It is just the Autism I remind myself. When I look at his face and I do not see the sparkle in his eyes, but rather the intense emotion of confusion and deregulation, my heart breaks. It is just the Autism I remind myself again. The Autism is the surface. His humor and his beautiful personality make him my special Bug that I brought home six years ago last week, with big blue eyes and an oversized pacifier that made his face look like a bug.
I wake up in the morning and I do not want to get out of bed in fear of the Autism. My anxiety rises as I think about what the morning will bring. My slumber has brought me restoration that I needed. But now I face the unknown. I sing the song in my head from The Sound of Music when Maria sings, “What will this day be like; I wonder…” and I wait in anticipation for my son to awaken and answer my pondering thoughts. I take my deep breaths as I hear him get out of bed; I prepare myself for the unknown… and here it comes! The full force of six year old terror and laughter.
And then there are the times when it is calm. The meltdowns are silent and the Autism appears dormant for a short time. He looks at us in the eye and smiles. He asks us questions about our day and laughs at our jokes. He lets us hold him and play loud music as we dance. But suddenly as quickly as it came, it leaves us once again. The sparkles in his eyes are gone and we walk on egg shells once again.
We are blessed to get support in many ways from many different people and groups. Our extended family is our number one fan; they have always been there for us and continue to pray daily for us and our needs. Our friends and church are here for our immediate needs since they are nearby and they offer a shoulder to cry on when we need it (or often a Starbucks run or something stronger if needed!). We get support from teachers and therapists for his unique needs. They offer advice and great education. And our wonderful government helps us with needs for his disability (you probably cannot pick up on the sarcasm but if you know me well enough you can hear the sarcasm here).
We use laughter to get through the stress. When our son gets in trouble at school for humming the theme song to Star Wars while doing his work after he has been told to stay quiet, we talk to him; then we go to our room and laugh. Laughter gets us through just about anything. Often there are tears with the laughter; it is a rather obnoxious mix of emotions. When it is all said and done, it feels good and relieves the stress.
My Awful Day
Last week was tough. But one particular day was awful. It was Valentine’s day, one of the best days of the year. However, everything went wrong. I made a special Valentine breakfast; he did not eat it. I said I would take him to school so he would not have to ride the bus; that was not exciting to him. Then it was time to get dressed and he snapped. I saw the anger in his eyes blaze and his ears turn bright red. His face got flushed and his body became rigid. The battle was on.
It was a battle that lasted over an hour. There was lots of screaming from my son and things flying through the air that should not have been flying. He managed to get himself cornered in my closet where clothes were being thrown and pulled down. Mean words were directed at me and had he been a bit stronger, I am sure bruising would have taken place on myself.
I felt out of control! I wanted to scream, yell, and throw myself down on the floor, just as he was doing. I wanted to simply leave the house and run away. I wanted to grab him, put clothes on him, put him in the car, take him to school, and then speed away in my car without looking back. Tears stung my eyes and my anxiety was high as I was thinking how I was going to handle this situation that was quickly spiraling out of control. There was no safe place for me to go as he would chase after me and kick on the door to the room I went into.
I finally convinced him to get into the shower to help calm himself down, and thank goodness it worked. It also gave me a few minutes to calm myself down and drink some ice-cold water (I may have snuck in some chocolate too). I got him out of the shower, calm and quiet, and ready to get dressed. Another meltdown ensued with getting dressed, but I held to my guns. Afterwards I told him to wrestle with the oversized bear he has, which seemed to help. He then found some small cloth and I gave him ice-cold water. He sat down with the cloth, rubbed it on his face while drinking the water. After three minutes he announced he was calm and ready for school. He walked over, put on his shoes, grabbed his backpack, and put himself in the car. I sat there, stunned, then finally grabbed my stuff and headed to the car.
My body ached and I had a migraine beginning. By the time I got him to school, we had discussed how much I loved him and he let me sing our special song to him. Ironically, he ended up having a perfect day at school… go figure.
I spent the day doing a lot of reflecting and processing. Then I went and got my hair done, a special treat! It was an awful morning, a challenging morning, and one I never want to repeat. But I love him, more than ever!!
I am a mama with a son who has Autism. My son has Autism; Autism does not have my son. We teach him how to control his body the best we can. He just simply has his challenges that he has to work through. Life will be tough and challenging for him. He will have many obstacles to overcome. So we stand by him and support him.
People always ask me if it is hard to work with kids on the spectrum all day and then go home to my son. I reply that it is not any more challenging for me than anyone else, but I am certainly tired by 8pm! People also comment that they do not know how I do all these things or they do not know how they could handle their child being Autistic. My answer is simple: God does not call the qualified; he qualifies the called! I am called to be his mama, and I LOVE IT!