Do you know what it’s like? I mean really, do you know what it’s like to live in fear every single day of your life knowing it is likely never going to end? Studies are showing that Autism parents show symptoms of PTSD, which I find funny because that implies that our traumatic stress has past. It is POST traumatic stress disorder after all. The truth is that we are still in the middle of the trauma and still experiencing the stress. Every day we are going back into the trenches and are on high alert, making sure that we avoid any potential trigger that may cause a meltdown. We are watching the scene like a hawk to spot a dangerous situation before it occurs so that we can circumvent it and save the child before the child even needs saving.
Oh I hear what you are thinking. Sure, parents do this all the time. We sit on the playground and watch the kids and grab little Suzie when she starts to climb a little too high. What if I told you that you had to foresee Suzie wanting to climb up the tree and know that she was going to go too high for her own safety? What if I told you that you must prevent her from even thinking about doing it because once it is in her head that she wants to, once she makes that first motion to go for the tree, it’s over. There will be no stopping her without a huge meltdown resulting in a physical struggle to keep her safe. Autistic kids tend to be very persistent, so there is a good chance this episode will end the day at the park. Now, what if I told you that the unsafe things you need to protect her from are not obvious and they are everywhere.
And factor in that she has communication challenges.
And she isn’t going to listen when she is laser focused on what she wants.
And she is strong as a bull.
And fast, oh so very fast.
Are you getting the picture? A trip to the store, the park, pumping your gas – it all puts you on high alert because you need to see and react to everything in advance and foresee every potential danger.
Add in the uncertainty of other children and my head explodes. I just can’t take it. I am terrified that the boy is going to do something and someone else’s child is going to be hurt. Or the boy is going to decide it’s a good time to strip and some little girl and her parents are going to get an eyeful and call the cops. I mean the amount of stress in just taking the boy to a little grocery store in town today was amazing. I had to use my trusty essential oils on the way to psych myself up for the challenge. He did great mind you. He didn’t run anyone over with the cart, he kept his clothes on, didn’t steal anything and only bit me once. Yay!!
So what that I forgot half of what I went in for because I had to constantly talk to the boy as I directed him and the cart in a way that wouldn’t tick him off. Standing in line was, by far, the biggest problem. We made it through and the boy didn’t draw blood when he bit my arm. His way of telling me “Keep moving MOM!!” Another commonality among many Autistic kids, waiting is not a strong skill 😉 In fact, waiting in line is so troublesome for so many that Disney World came up with a way for these children to avoid the waiting in line! Now that’s HUGE. Think about it. It must really be a problem, eh?
So next time you see a family with an Autistic child out and about, think about what that caregiver has to deal with. If it is going well, that person ROCKS and is ON IT. Fist bump that amazing person!! No, really don’t cause that distraction will be the downfall of the day!! If it isn’t going well just give a smile and say a prayer for them. Rough days are hard on the child, the parents, the whole family and we all know that we are going to have them.
Oh, did I mention this is just ONE of the fears we live with everyday? I’ll tell you more tomorrow 😉