“I dont know how much longer I can keep him home” I said to her as tears rolled down my face. She put her arms around me and just said, “I’m so sorry” as I stood outside of my car watching him obesessivly opening and closing the large bag of DVDs she had given him. He had just attacked his brother, yes this time, a legitimate attack and i had to climb into the car to break up the fight and as I tried to fight him and pull my phone out of his hand that he had stolen from his brother he began screaming and biting my hand. The moment i got the phone out of his grasp i stepped out of the front of the truck and immediately starting crying. My hand hurt sure but my heart hurt more.
I knew it was the first time she had seen this side of aiden. I was hoping no one would ever see it. And then it happened again as Sabrina was looking at the DVDs and became interested in the ones that were meant for her. well the obsession took over and he snatched the strawberry shortcake DVD right out of her hand still crying i reached in and told Sabrina, “Just give it to him. I can’t protect you right now so please lets just do what we can to avoid a fight. when we get home I promise you can go through the bag and take the girl DVDs” “he always gets everything momma. I just wanted to look at them”. I looked at Aiden angry through eyes clouded by the tears welling up in my eyes once again because I knew she was right. I knew she was right and I didn’t want to give into the behavior because it could enhance the chance of that behavior happening again in the future but I also knew I had a responsiblity to keep everyone involved safe and i wanted to keep the drama down as much as i could.
This set the emotional prescidence of the day. Upon arriving to sabrinas friends home to pick her he climbed into the front seat and as i ushed him back into the back seat i realized he was wet and I had no resources to change him so he would have to remain that way until we got home. It was a quiet ride home. I tried to keep things light for the kids pointing out the Halloween decorations atop a building and making silly jokes about them but inside i felt like locking myself in a room to wallow in my own pity. Yep, this was my ‘autism breakdown’ but i had no space to let it go. The day would be filled with fights over ipads, PS4s and countless clothing changes. I was just too upset to follow through with the thirty minute bathroom rounds. Not to mention i had four kids in my care and one neighbor in and out all day (not complaining at all please believe me).
In the course of all of this I was so anxious and didn’t know what to do so guess what i did… I put up my Christmas tree. I get like that. When things feel so out of control I clean or instead of finding ways to cut things out to create calm I add more. So now, I have 5 kids in my house, a wet kid, fights here and there, this kid wants milk, the other kid is getting out the paint and yet I decide to put up the Christmas tree? My brain was spinning and I had no time to sort it all out. I was anxious, I was sad, Angry and the thoughts just kept coming. It all seemed so hopeless until she showed up.
I crouched down in my couchless living room (because we lost the couches to Aiden’s urinary accidents) with a spool of paper towel and windex to clean my broken curio cabinets which entomb my grandmothers Kewpie dolls and just as I got ready to spray the glass the door opened my good friend walked in with her two babes and I had never felt so relieved to see her. I love those friendships where you can be a mess together. I love those friendships where a knock at the door is actually an insult because the rule is “open door always”.
my friend and I killed it as we manned the kids together and fed the kids hot dogs on paper towel citing not wanting to do dishes. We both laughed about how we always lose our keys, our sanity, and want to be with people but not talk to them and what a mess we both are. But even in all of our mess I can’t help but think that we aren’t truly the messes we think we are. We are both involved mommas, we are both accepting of others, we both can laugh at ourselves even when things are heavy and its funny really how God sent us eachother. At one point Aiden took off his pull up, put his pants back on and just handed her the wet pull up and as she told me this story we both just laughed and laughed. “My kid just changed himself! That’s so amazing!” and we both cheered.
My point in all of this is to illustrate how quickly life with autism can change. Last night at Aiden’s first Swimming lesson I just watched him sit there floating in the hot tub and couldn’t help but smile at the weightlessness of him in the water. he was so calm just laying there looking at the ceiling and I couldn’t help but thank God for the calm even if just for a moment after such a long and emotional day. I sat crouched on the side of the pool watching my other two with the instructor and watched them breakaway to do real kid things and heard them giggling and they seemed happy and all I could do was be thankful for that one moment.
I layed in bed last night and just watched my diffuser as it expelled soft lavander into the air and as I breathed it in so deep I could feel all the cares of the world fade as I giggled a little bit at the happenings of the day. Sure, the day was tough, it was an emotional “kerfuffel” (in the words of Chris Osgood of the detroit redwings) and not much of it made any sense but then it was in the chaos that I found hope.
So today, I woke up to fight autism with my boy once again with a speech evaluation this afternoon and a new ABA evaluation this evening. I put on my makeup, did my hair and admired my nice clothes as I grabbed my keys and walked out the door making sure to be prepared for autism. I walked into my favorite coffee shop and just sat at the table with my good friend and owner as we shared few words and both shut down and enjoyed being alone together for a moment to take a breath before her responsibilites took her away. and here I am enjoying some music and my mocha caramel and a second to rehash yesterday with a clear head before the emotions of the evaluations begin to swirl once again.
I guess the point of this narrative, essay, post, article or whatever this piece ended up being is that while autism is hard, it allows room for growth and in the chaos and the hurt there is always hope even if you can’t find it. Cheers my friends and remember, as in the words of Ellen, Always be kind to one another.