Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Hold on tight

It sounds just like a bad Hallmark channel movie when you compare parenting an autistic child to a rollercoaster ride. But it certainly rings true. Today I hit the part of the ride where the train brakes suddenly and one is thrust forward against the harness.

My son, in a fit of post-school exhaustion, threw his backpack onto the sidewalk in front of our house. I refused to pick it up for him and left it in the rain. Back inside, I reminded him regularly that his backpack would continue to get wet if he did not retrieve it. He refused to retrieve it. We went back and forth.

Finally I got him to go outside with me but when he realized that I still expected him to pick up his own backpack, he tried to go back inside. I closed the door and told him that he would not be able to come in until he had picked it up himself. Then the fit began. He screamed, tore at his pants, punched the glass storm door, jumped up and down, and nearly burst a blood vessel in his forehead. Each time he paused to catch his breath, I quietly reminded him to get his backpack.

It's a testament to the understanding neighborhood friends of mine that the Department of Children and Family Services was not called. His was a cacophony of sound. I wouldn't budge from my requirement that he pick up his own mess. He was beside himself. He was also getting damp from the rain and claimed that a spider was going to crawl out of the nearby plant to get him. I could barely keep a straight face.

He finally grabbed the backpack (after tossing it around the front yard a few times,) chucked it through the open front door, and rocketed himself into the house. I have learned to read the pitch of his voice. The danger note in it and his flailing showed me that physical harm was imminent. He tried to take out his little brother with his feet so I put him in a headlock. We curled up at the base of the stairs, him in my lap. I repeatedly dodged his flailing head, certain that if he made contact he would break my nose.

This was my bad movie moment-- the one where the viewer is supposed to feel sorry for me and go home depressed, or feel grateful that he is not in my shoes. I just held on (a running theme for parents of autistic children) and waited. He was screaming, "Let go of me, mom! AAAHHHHH!!! LET GO OF ME!" Then, suddenly, he went limp in my arms. He laid his head against my neck and pleaded,

"Don't let go of me, mom!"

Hot tears spilled down my face as I knew that we had made it through another loop in the rollercoaster.


Taryn said...

This post made me cry. I miss you, Lauren!

Melodrama Mama said...

Oh Lauren! You are such a good Mom! You are an example to so many of us! I am so glad that this turned into one of those great Mom moments. At the risk of sounding a bit loony: I love you!

aniC said...

that made me cry too! great story.
and you must not have been too loud out there, i didnt hear you (c:

Randy said...

That story sounds very familiar. I have two autistic kids, and I've often wondered why nobody has called the police during some tantrums and attempts to control them that have occurred in public. People here in Louisiana are surprisingly understanding and empathetic.

cappyt said...

I hope you don't mind, I remembered this post of yours, and I referenced it in my blog tonight. Thanks for sharing =0)

Tracie said...

I love YOU, Lauren! Thank you for sharing your stories and educating me on FB so I can be more empathetic and supportive to those on the ride! Made me cry AGAIN and I love you for it!