When you see that supposedly disobedient child in public, having a meltdown and you wonder about that behavior. You really should pause and consider the parent who sticks by that childs side. That's the parent who may have to leave a cart full of groceries because of an autistic meltdown. That's the parent who may have to full body hug their child on the spot to keep them from biting or hurting themselves or others in an outburst. They're the ones who have to put up with harsh public opinion when their hands are already full. In short, parents on the spectrum deserve a freaking medal.
It's not easy when your child can't concentrate enough to get dressed in the morning. He'll be starting to get his jammie shirt off when he erupts into this ear splitting "eeee" siren noise while shaking his head so hard you think he'll knock himself over. At the same time he'll whip his hands back and forth like he's trying to shake something off them at hypersonic speed. Being an autistic adult, this triggers my own sensory issues and I have to try and get him to stop. I say his name louder over his high droning sound and put my arms in the way of his superfast flapping. I distract him so I can bring him back to task of getting dressed. I will have to bring him back to task a number of times. I may even have to put his clothes in his hands while repeating myself over and over to put his shirt or pants on.
Often he will just get angry with me and we will have a short temper tantrum- mini meltdown that I have to "not" respond to. My refusal to engage in some of the behavior can also prompt him to get back to task and be back on course for the morning. Once he's dressed we can get to the next part of our morning. If you look through my blogs on my Myspace page you will find dozens of parents who can say they deal with exactly the same thing. I am certainly not alone in what I deal with. Some have to be dressed completely by parental hand so I count my lucky stars where I can.
This morning he considered breakfast more of a plaything as he smeared his scrambled eggs, spilled his milk and purposely dribbled from his mouth all over himself. Wild laughter ensues, much of it forced because he wants to hear his own voice. I clean up, correct him best I can and make him go without his milk to drink until his eggs are all eaten. I get another tantrum that I have to ignore and soon we are back on track again. Not every morning is this intense. Mornings with erratic behavior of this magnitude tell me it's time for a med check, but I still have to get him set up for the day before the phone calls can be made.
Next it's time to take daily meds and that is a new chore in and of itself. He hates his medicine, and what kid doesn't? We do our best to get it down, but he's in a devil of a mood and more dribbling ensues. A good morning sees meds down in about 3 minutes. Today it takes 15. And there's plenty of kids who have to be fed by hand on the spectrum because they just can't process the world around them.
People have commented to me on how much I can handle him since I have a condition myself. But they only see a fraction of our life in each others hands. They don't see our morning trials or the things we do together when he's able to go out and have fun. Then there are those who look at his odd behaviors when he is ON his meds and ask me how I do it. I bite my lip, I really do. I shrug and say that we just do the best we can. We have our routines and I work with him on proper social behavior. But it will take time. And I bite my lip because the person who asked me that is only seeing the lighter side of his eccentricities and already feel overwhelmed.
That's okay, because parents on the spectrum can't afford to get overwhelmed. We don't have that kind of time. We do what we do and we do it every day. On top of that, we love our kids and wouldn't trade them for the world. We don't write these blogs to say woe is me, we do it for those who just don't get it yet. I'm writing my blog for YOU, parent who doesn't have a special needs child. I want you to look at the next kid having a "fit" in the store and think of these words. And before you judge that parent, ask yourself what they already have to do for their child every single day. Then ask yourself if you could do it.
I consider our morning trials just part of life and we get through them and go on with our day. That's how parents on the spectrum are. It's just part of our lives and we deal with it. Just something to think about. You can search for me on myspace or facebook by my email, firstname.lastname@example.org. All are welcome there because you just might learn something new.