Yep – life is kind of crappy right now. Warning, if you are looking for a poignant, uplifting story about autism, this is not going to be it. I apologize upfront that I’m in a bit of an ugly place, and sometimes, at least for me, this involves venting from my red couch. When I’m really cranky, like today, it makes me feel better to say bad words – so I’m going to indulge. Crap, crap, crap, crap. Yeah, I know, crap is not an all-together horrible word, but maybe not as cute when used by 5-year-old girls (i.e. Ada playing with some of her animals in my closet yesterday walked out and said “Mom, you have too much crap in your closet, but Dad’s is nice and clean”). Yep – it’s true. I’ve corrupted my child, and I have too much crap in my closet. I own it.
Damn, I really thought (and was told by my Uncle Mike – more than once), that one great thing about having 3 kids is that at least 1 of them will be in a good place at any given time. Well guess what, Uncle Mike was wrong. Crap. Maybe I should have paid closer attention to the fact that most of my conversations with Uncle Mike took place after he had indulged in a cocktail or two.
I know I’ve said this before, but it feels especially true right now. Sometimes with autism, at least the autism that exists in our house, it’s not so much the giant differences that make things so challenging, but the constancy of the little things. Autism really truly never takes a break, and sometimes I could really use one.
This winter has been a huge and challenging time for Elliott. I have a feeling it’s a multitude of things – including (gulp) the beginning of puberty. Crap. For several weeks, our days began with screaming, and ended with screaming, and I’m not talking about the cute stuff either. Big, ugly screaming complete with raising his hands to us.
I’ve touched on this before, but for those who may not be aware, Elliott has a history of very challenging aggression, and I live in constant fear of revisiting the horror we lived through. Granted, he was too young to remember it (2-3), and thank God neither does his brother who was his most frequent target. When we started behavioral therapy, we documented over 100 aggressions per day. It was a living hell, and even thinking about it for a split second makes me anxious.
So, when his meltdowns began happening more and more frequently this winter, and the one day when I was asking him to go to his room until he could calm down and he raised his hand as if he were going to hit me, I knew it was time for help.
While I joke about being on Prozac a lot (it’s actually Zoloft, but Prozac just sounds more fun to me), it has been a tremendous help to me since autism became part of my life. That said, while I’ve read many accounts of families needing to go the route of an SSRI for their child with autism to help them, I’ve also hoped that would never be us. It’s never easy to be in that position – as I don’t like the idea of messing with a developing brain – but that’s just one of those hard choices we as parents are dealt, and I can only hope we’ve made the right one. Crap. It’s been a couple of weeks, and (knock on wood) so far, so good.
Henry – well, I just can’t go there right now. I’ll need to revisit that one publicly after I’ve had more time to process it. He’s struggling right now, and we don’t have a solution in place that’s helping as of yet. This one is killing me because frankly, I don’t know how to parent kids who don’t have autism. It feels foreign to me, and I’m not at all confident that Tom & I are helping him in the most effective ways for him. We know he has ADHD, and are learning that it is much more serious than we thought it was. This is just raw and painful right now, and while I know we will get through this, it’s not that fun in the moment. Crap, crap. In spite of all that is challenging for him right now, he is for the most part, blissfully unaware of feeling stressed or worried. I can’t say I don’t envy him for that sometimes . . .
Ada has many strengths, and among them are learning from those around her. Unfortunately, when you spend a great deal of time with your 11-year-old brother who is experiencing a multitude of challenges, they start appearing in new and interesting ways from a 5-year-old. Crap. When Elliott is struggling, it is with almost certainty that Ada is too. This is challenging and painful for me, because in many ways, it feels like the past revisiting again, and not in a good way. As we prepare for her to begin Kindergarten this coming fall, and are beginning to make choices about what school, what type of classroom she’ll need, what kinds of supports she’ll need to be a successful learner, well, sometimes it feels like the weight of the world is upon us to make the right choices for her. She has worked so hard, and it hurts to see her in a tough place right now. Crap.
Man, parenting can be really difficult sometimes. We’ve had a few weeks that I won’t miss, and know that in a few more when things start to look up, these challenges will only make the successes look brighter. But for now, I’m sad, overwhelmed, and cranky. Crap. Now that I think of it, maybe Uncle Mike was right. Not necessarily his sage parenting advice, but about the occasional cocktail. Cheers!