Yesterday evening I had a lovely local hairdresser at my house. My daughter badly wanted and needed her hair cut so she was sat in my kitchen with the hairdresser. My son was watching youtube on his laptop and I was thinking about what our evening meal would be.
It was a cold, dark evening and hailing outside. We had no food in the house so I decided it was a takeaway and movie kind of evening and ordered some food.
With perfect timing, the food came as the hairdresser had just finished and was starting to tidy up. I dished it up onto plates, gave one to my daughter and one to my son. The food came with two small bags of salad. My daughter asked for one as I was paying the hairdresser and I absentmindedly said yes.
All of a sudden my relatively calm and quiet house escalated into the sort of noisy chaos that has the neighbours ringing the police and hairdressers running for their lives! Well, it wasn’t quite that bad because we have understanding neighbours and apparently an understanding hairdresser, but noisy and chaotic it was!
My previously seemingly quiet and absorbed in a video son, realised that my daughter had a bag of salad and that he desperately needed one of his own. He took one look at the remaining bag of salad and decided instantly that it was not as good as the salad that my daughter had purposefully taken. He picked up the unacceptable salad, screamed some expletives I won’t repeat, and launched it at the hairdresser before storming upstairs.
I apologetically paid the hairdresser and saw her out of the door whilst hearing the sounds of a house falling down coming from upstairs. As soon as she left I leapt into ninja mode and got upstairs quicker than ever before to find a big hole in the kids bedroom wall and my son collapsed in a heap on the floor uncontrollably screaming that he hated himself.
Quickly choosing to ignore the hole and the fact I had decorated that room six weeks previously, I turned my attention to my son.
He took some calming down and was very upset with himself when he had. He was very apologetic and said it was just all too much and it was that moment that I realised I wasn’t dealing with a salad related issue.
The salad was the tip of the iceberg and the last straw for him. Normally he would of just eaten the second bag and seen nothing wrong with it but before he looked at the salad, whilst he had appeared calm, he was ready to explode inside.
That day at school another child had upset him and he had managed not to react. He had had a busy day and come home to a noisy house. On top of this there was a hairdresser in the kitchen when there isn’t normally a hairdresser in the kitchen and the wifi was playing up so his video kept stopping.
My son was like a bottle of pop, he had been shaken all day and managed to keep the lid on but when he saw the salad the lid blew off and he couldn’t keep his stress, frustration and anger under control anymore.
After some cuddles, a bit of chilling in a calm place and seeing to the injured hand that made the hole in the wall, he was feeling better enough to eat some food. He went to bed early and fell asleep straight away because he had exhausted himself.
It isn’t uncommon for Autistic children to do this. They can often bottle things up at school and like my son, may not be able to communicate how they are feeling or even understand it. Then something relatively small happens and you will see a very comparatively extreme reaction. The reaction, in reality isn’t to the immediate incident but will often be the reaction to a build up of feelings or sensory triggers from previously in the day.
I have explained this build up in my post about meltdowns and shutdowns which you can find here. The post also gives practical advice on what you can do if your child goes through this.
As for me, I’m off now to try and fix the wall and then call the hairdresser to apologise again, in the hope that we dont lose her very valuable service for our future haircuts!
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