Seeing your child upset hits you in gut like a Mack truck. There’s nothing we wouldn’t do to protect them from feeling this way. As parents, we do our best to alleviate these issues, before they even become a problem. But what if your child is crying and you have no idea why?
Story of my life.
Today started off like any other Monday. I went to the gym, came home and made the kids (and hubbys) lunch. I go get Dawson out of his crib and get him is cocoa. I wake up Emmy and she gets herself ready. We hang out for a few while the kids snack on some cereal. Emmy catches the bus and then I get Dawson ready to go catch his. Everything was going fine, until it wasn’t. I have no idea what happened, or why….but Dawson went from zero to upset in .2 seconds.
He started crying, and it never stopped. I finished getting him dressed and we walked out the door, like we do every Monday. We waited on the porch and I do my song and dance (literally, there’s a song and dance that I do for him) like we do every Monday. It wasn’t working. Dawson’s tear soaked face was devastating. I grabbed him and snuggled him so hard. I held him and tried to calm him, but it just made things worse. He started biting, there were more tears, and then he pushed off of me. He wanted nothing to do with me.
I’ve seen this before. I knew this scenario all too well. We were headed for a meltdown. To be honest, I had almost forgotten what it looked like….it’s been months since we have gotten to this point.
Dawson started crying louder and harder. He started to bang his head on the door, which I immediately put an end to. This further upset him, and he tried to bite me again. I stepped away to give him his space and he bent over to bite the concrete. It soon became clear that the only way to prevent injury to himself was to contain him. I picked him up (all 43 heavy pounds of him) and held him tight. I gave him a bear hug with one arm and used my other to squeeze his jaw (to give him as much oral input as I could, as I knew he was seeking it desperately) all while continuing to sing him our song and do my dance. I continued to do this for what felt like forever and then the bus came. I was hoping that the sight of the bus would bring him some comfort. I was wrong. His meltdown escalated as he walked up the stairs (with assistance) and got his harness on. He just continued to cry, naturally, so did I.
I watched and cried as the bus drove off. What kind of mother sends her child to school after such a traumatic morning? He is clearly upset and on the verge of self harm….and I’m sending him to be with students, teachers and therapists who could upset him more? He should be at home with his mom. The one person who loves him more than anything. The one person who should be able to kiss away the ouchies and make the tears go away. Some mother I am.
Here’s the thing, I’m not like most moms. And he’s not like most sons. I can’t kiss away his ouchies and make his tears go away…because I still have no idea what upset him in the first place. Is he tired? Maybe he’s not feeling good? Maybe his socks weren’t on right? Perhaps he NEEDED to finish that universal studios preview in order for his brain to cooperate with his sensory needs today? I just don’t know. And I fucking hate that. I hate it so much. I just want to be able to rescue my son from the torture he goes through, and I’m not sure I ever will.
After seeing him leave, I went inside and bawled. I cried about how unfair life can be as I sat on the floor listening to the same video he’s seen at million times, the washing machine washing the same load of laundry, the dryer fluffing the clothes for absolutely no reason, the disco lights shingling on the walls, the dishwasher running and the Vacuum (which hardly works now) still on. I looked around the room and noticed all of Dawson’s necessary items. Empty cereal box, bent slinky, trail of cereal, iPad, z-vibe and communication book. I took a moment to soak in all of this overwhelming input and it brought even more tears.
My son had only been awake for 30 minutes. In that time, he needed:
- the TV on a very specific show
- iPad on the same annoying video
- The dishwasher running, which he started himself
- The washing machine going, which he bangs on to inform me that he needs it
- The dryer fluffing clothes, which he stands in front of when he needs
- The vacuum on, which he asks for using his book
- The disco lights shining on the walls
- His cocoa
- His slinky
- His empty cereal box to play with/stare at
- His z-vibe to chew on.
Dawson needed all of that…just as he does every single morning. I can’t even imagine what a few minutes in his mind would feel like. I don’t think I could last a minute…I’m not that strong.
This morning, I was reminded of the hardship we had once gone through with Dawson. It was a sudden flashback to one year ago, and it hit hard. A time where we had little therapy hours, no communication what-so-ever and frequent meltdowns. Very frequent meltdowns. Things have changed so much since then, I honestly forgot just how hard it used to be. How naive.
It’s great to be optimistic and exited about the progress we have made, but I think that I may have wandered a little too far from our path. I may have subconsciously even believed he could one day grow out of his autism.
We have had some amazing things happen, and Dawson has made some absolutely incredible progress in his ability to communicate, using his book. He has started to understand what works for him, and how to achieve some of his sensory needs independently. Things have honestly been so good, for all of us the last few months….and while I won’t let his one morning bring me too down on myself….One thing remains true, as it always will. Dawson does have autism. It won’t go away. Yes- therapy, school and lots of work at home can help fulfill his sensory needs and assist with communication….but even with all of that, we still can’t be sure as to what’s going on in that heads of his. We may never really know.
After I got up off the floor and called my mom to cry like a baby a bathe in my own self pity….I called Dawson’s teacher. I told her all about our morning and gave her a couple suggestions that may help with his discomfort. She assured me he would be okay, and that she would keep me updated on him later this morning.
Autism is hard and it’s messy. Buts it’s also very unknown. You find tricks and tools that help, but only for awhile. When they stop working, you find new things that do. For how routined and scheduled it appears to be, things are always changing….making it incredibly difficult to stay on top of my mom game over here. One thing I know for sure, I see lots of coffee in my near future….and probably some Cabernet later tonight 🙂