Today Autism kicked our arse and won! I am usually very positive in everything I write. But today was hard and I gave in to the negative side of J’s Autism.
We went to gymnastics as we do every week. J loves it as he’s free to run, climb and jump. It does his physical skills the world of good and there’s so many improvements because of it. But today something triggered J and everything was challenging him (and me). It ranged from not being able to go up the slide (there were people waited to go down), not being able to run along the lines because there were children in the way and then every little thing was just setting him off.
I tried all of the tricks that usually calm him. I tried finding a line for us to follow, pressure hug, laying flat, spinning etc. But I could tell by how avoidant J’s eyes were and that he couldn’t even turn his face towards me that he was not in a social mood today. There were too many people, too much out on the floor and noise everywhere. The combination just didn’t work today. He couldnt regulate himself and was just on ‘fight’ mode. I can just imagine how it must have felt for him. It was hard enough for me as an adult who can regulate!
What made it worse for me was the looks from Mum’s. I could see the groups giving each other ‘the look’. Whenever J came near them or their child it was like J was a nuisance or they would either look through him.. Just a smile of sympathy would have been appreciated! The staff at our gymnastics are more there for generally overseeing things. They don’t come over to chat or help with equipment: it’s a very ‘get on with it’ group. Usually this freedom is lovely as J can get on with what he wants. Sadly at times like today a friendly face would have been a relief. Instead I felt isolated and vulnerable. Daft for a 30-something year old isn’t it.
It’s times like today that I wish I had a big sign I called hold up that said ‘J has Autism, please be understanding’. He’s not naughty or trying to be mean. J’s body was flooded with emotions and confused and the brain telling him things are wrong.
I’m hoping this is just a bad day. Its hard enough to find groups that work for J and this was one of them. We left after about 30-45mins. I couldn’t put J (or myself) through anymore of it. This led to further meltdowns as we don’t usually leave to after ‘cool down’ time. By the time we got home J was so worked up that he threw everything, everywhere.
Once he had let out that steam he climbed on my knee and wanted a kiss. This is a universal sign for ‘sorry and I want everything to be ok now’. So we had a hug and a kiss. I put Cars on the tv and we snuggled under the blanket. J had his iPad and some raisins (chewy food helps calm him). It’s been 2 hours since we left and as I’m writing this J has only just left the sofa to go play with his cars. He’s started to be his normal self. He’s grouping his cars together and lining the up. This also comforts him.
I’m exhausted now. It’s mentally and physically tiring being an Autism Mummy (being a parent full stop really). You have to see the world through your child’s eyes. Right now I feel sad and deflated but I know it will be short lived. We’ll both bounce back and give it another try next week.