As a parent of autistic children, sometimes I literally feel helpless and often resort to making it up as I go along.
It is Friday evening. I am exhausted. We have just eaten Chinese takeaway for the second day in a row and this is the reason why:
I have been up since 5.30am and not stopped all day. I am self employed and had left my entire years accounts and tax returns to the last weekend possible because, to be quite frank, I don’t usually have enough time or energy in the day to make time for my accounts. I have worked my usual job all day and am feeling quite proud of myself for additionally spending five and a half hours sorting out figures and receipts and deciphering the complicated online form.
My son came in from school at the usual time whilst I was still working. He usually goes on his laptop to have some down time after a busy day and today was no exception. He settled down and then came the problems! His laptop decided to update itself. After half an hour of my son waiting for the update to install, it then decided to revert back to normal and ask him to download the update again! He started to feel quite cross.
I suggested he might like to play a game on his phone while he was waiting, to try and distract him from the laptop. His phone charger chose this moment to break. This time he was feeling really cross and I had to swap the phone for his anger box incase the phone ended up being launched across the room. He had already used and destroyed the one item he wanted from the anger box so he almost went into meltdown mode.
I put him into his sensory room in the hope that he would manage to calm down. It worked and after ten minutes he fell asleep. I decided to leave him asleep while his laptop slowly updated itself, hoping that he would feel better when he woke.
I finished my work, went to make a cup of tea and my son woke up, emerging from his sensory room with the same inner turmoil that he’d had when he went in. Nothing was right, everything was horribly stacked up against him and the laptop was in immediate danger of being punched.
I had run out of options. I had no distraction tools, no calm down tools and no energy left to deal with the imminent meltdown. I reached a point that I know many of my readers with autistic children will know well and one I have been in many times before. I felt helpless, exhausted and didnt have a clue what to do. I so desperately wanted to help my son to cope with his feelings, to take away his complete frustration, but I couldn’t.
I took a deep breath. Brushed off my feelings and managed to stay calm. I batted off every negative and cross sentence flying my way, came up with solutions for every problem under the sun and worked out a way of charging the phone. As if by some miracle the laptop came on! I managed to google how to stop it from updating by itself whilst facetiming my son from the next room on the now charging phone. I distracted him from his frustrations by putting him to work on step by step sorting his laptop.
Tonight I muddled on through with a bunch of trial and error, old and new tactics, until, 5 hours later we had reached a relatively calm situation. By this time it was too late to cook. No one had eaten and we were all physically exhausted so once again, I ordered takeout.
This is the reality of life for us sometimes. But Chinese takeaway is nice, I have finally finished my tax returns for another year, and I only have to survive bed time before I get to rest. Then tomorrow we start afresh!
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