As you may remember, we received Everett’s official autism diagnosis last week. It’s weird. Nothing has changed but a label, but everything feels so different.
While I had an idea that Everett might have autism, I felt like I could explain most of his behaviors away with the SPD and being a toddler. Now I am seeing what I must have been blind to before.
- The Self Stim Activities I never picked up on
- Hand flapping
- Word Repitition
- Spinning Around
- Hand Licking
- Head Banging
- Selective Mutism
- Reverse Pronouns
Did I notice these? Yes. I wrote them all off as other things. Speech delay. Shyness. SPD. Bad days. Almost every red flag was waving, but I may as well have been color blind.
To top it off, not only do I feel completely clueless, my momma bear instincts are now at an all time high. I’m starting to resemble a full grown, hungry grizzly, that just got woken up from her nap.
Everett was completely overloaded the other night. We had gone out as a family and everything was just too much for him after awhile. When Everett gets overwhelmed he hits. EVERYONE. He gets into this hyperactive hitting stage where no one is safe from his wrath. From the outside, it looks like I am a super shit parent who can’t control her child. We try many many strategies, but most of the time, the only thing that works is removing him entirely from a situation. So back to the other night…. I was practically dragging Everett back to the car. Imagine trying to corral a drunk kangaroo that is doing it’s best to escape you and you have an idea of what I am dealing with. So here I am “dragging” this drunk kangaroo down the sidewalk to the car, while simultaneously keeping my cool. He manages to escape my clutches for 2.5 seconds and BOOM he’s hit a woman. I immediately re-constrain him and turn to apologize to her. She ignores me and addresses Everett:
Lady: “how would you like it if I hit you?”
Me: “Excuse me, please stop addressing my son. He’s sorry.”
L: ” I was talking to HIM. Do you want me to hit you? Would you like that?”
At this point I was about to lay her flat on the ground.
Me: “My child is autistic and can’t always control himself. What’s your excuse?”
L: “He’s just acting like a kid, you need to show him consequences”
At this point my husband came over and ushered me into the car. I was seeing red. I was about to lay some random woman out on the sidewalk. I finally calm down and the guilt hits. Showing another person violence is not the example I want to show my children, and giving Everett autism as an excuse for bad behavior is not acceptable. And I immediately feel like I am drowning again.
There, I’ll admit it: I have no freaking clue what I am doing. Some days I don’t even feel like an adult, much less a mother. I feel amazed that I was even let to bring not only 1 child, but 2, home with me. On the flip side, some days I do feel like super mom, but mostly I am just winging it. Fake it till you make it baby.
So why do I share my deeply personal experiences? Of course, to shout out solidarity with any other special needs parents out there who might be facing the same challenge, and to let you know you are not alone. But also to the lady who gets into his warpath. To the parent of children on the receiving end, to his teachers, and to anyone who has witnessed his struggle. I am sorry. My child is sorry. We never want to see another person hurt.
But this is also a reminder to have grace. To see they are only children, and that their behaviors are beyond their control. Know that so many of these kiddos really do mean well, but get stuck in their execution of things. That there is always more to the story than you are privy to. It’s up to us adults who DO know better and who are supposed to know how to control their actions and feelings. We CAN and SHOULD do better.