Friday, August 12, 2011

Go on and touch her already. Just a little touch.

Do you ever just get to the point where you go, "Eh, Christ, I'm sick of this and I want to go home."  Only you are home and there really is no other place for you to go? Anybody?  Anybody??

Or is it just me?  If its just me, please be generous and lie and make stuff up in the comments.  Tell me about your pet pony, I don't care.  

So I've gone on and on about how blissful our summer has been and like a vise grip getting tighter and tighter I can see my happy little boy slipping away from me.  Out of my grasp.

Our window is closing in on us.

And I'm scared.

I can see Alex's sphincter tighten as we get closer to next week and I'm dying a thousand deaths for him.

We had our last swim lesson and he was so sad and mad and I don't know what that he went up and slugged his instructor.  Normally he loves this girl.  Not today.  He didn't know how to tell her he was sad and mad and I don't know what and the next thing I knew he hauled off and just slugged her.

Even with his back turned
I know.  
Everything has been so rough on him in the past few days.  He's been trying desperately to hold it together and he just fell apart today.  And of all things it was when we ran out of cookies at the pool.  Cookies.

And he melted.

"Mom, Lizzy ate all the cookies and I'm hungry."  He's already started bawling, his chins quivering, snot running down his nose, over his lips and down his chin.  Rivers of tears streaming down each cheek.

Like a switch that's been turned on, I can see what's coming.

"I'm so hungry, Mom.  I want to go home."  He's pacing in circles.  Flapping.

"No babe, we're not going home.  Lizzy's not done with her lesson.  We have to stay."


He's going in circles, faster.  He's still sobbing.  And flapping.  He gets to our stuff and starts throwing the empty cookie bag and launched it across the pool deck.  Moved on to tossing the water bottle and all the goggles in the pool and got part way through our bag, chucking things out before I could get to him.  And I was all of one chair down.

Lizzy, not a care in the world. 
What he lacks in coping skills he makes up for in speed.        

"No.  No, hon.  We're not going home.  We have to wait."


He's moved on to sobbing hysterically, his whole body wracked with waves of angst.  "I WANT TO GO HOME."  I'm trying to hold on to him.  He's pushing me away.

He's moved on just that quickly from throwing things to curling up on himself, on the pool chair.

It always amazes me the fury that can be unleashed in a split second.  And the next, yet just as startling, is the child curled up so tightly in a ball, so vulnerable.  Scared.

"I know.  I know.  I know.  I'm sad too."  I say sitting next to him, trying not to get too close for fear of setting him off again.  "It stinks that Tracy has to go away for college and this is your last lesson.  I know that.  It makes my body sad too.  And I'm a little mad and a scared too.  Ya wana go over and tell Tracy you'll miss her?  You don't have to say anything you can just go over and touch her.  Just a touch.  She'll know what you're saying."

"NO.  I WANT TO GO HOME."  He's not moved an inch, just talking to me through the slats of the pool chair.

"I know, I know. But listen to me.  Did you know if you use your words, she'll understand your feelings?  She will.  Trust me.  I bet she's sad too."

He sat all though his sister's lesson curled up in the fetal position.  Was a moody as a feral cat coming back home.  Refused to talk to Tracy the rest of her time with us.

Right as she was walking out the door he went up to her.  Touched her on her hand and walked away.

He's been up in his room on his computer ever since listening to his music and making mazes.

There are so many things that are upsetting to me about what happened.  I know this scenario will replay itself all day, just with a different trigger.  He was unable to use words but for him to make that move, that touch, gives me pause.

It gives me hope.


  1. I agree! Mega hope there. I know that was a heartbreaking scene to go through and I know that the upcoming weeks are going to be hard. But I think that small gesture speaks volumes. He is trying sooooo hard and what you are telling him is making sense.

    Good job Momma.

  2. I know that had to bring so much joy to your heart to see him make that leap and touch her. He got it! There is hope =)

  3. ((hugs)) days, weeks, months like that are so difficult.

  4. Great. Now I'm crying. Hell Lizbeth--you don't have to explain any of this to ME. I get it. I get how you want to go HOME back to that safe place of before marriage and kids and constant worry.

    Here's what you have to do: keep his schedules and treats, and things he eats, and everything as rock solid as possible now until your guy starts school.

    Does your local autism org. (assuming you have one-god knows support is few and far between) have library books to help deal with back to school anxiety? Have you read any of the recent Autism blogs Directory posts on back to school jitters? (I have to admit, I haven't yet--bad karen).

    Brutal. Does it also take your son about 6 weeks to adjust to very different/new schedules?

  5. You should have hope. Your words and your love got through to him. And I give you a lot of credit for being able to see the deeper reason for his behavior. My son is such a tough nut to crack, I often miss the big picture and think the meltdown is really about the cookies.

    I know that swift rage, and that vulnerability, and that fear. And all you want to do is wrap your arms around them and make them feel safe, but you can't because touching them will make it all so much worse. And I'm all teary eyed reading this because I know it all too well, and I don't want Alex to have to feel like this. I don't want any of our kids to have to feel like this, and I don't want us moms to have to feel like this because it sucks.

    Hugs, hugs, hugs.

  6. @Making It Work Mom--thanks. I was so happy with that one little touch.

    @John and Allie Fields--he got it! Amidst the bad day I hung on to that.


    @Karensomethingorother--I've kept everything the same down to going to the pool. Then we had a thunderstorm! Poor kid. I've been rock solid for the last few weeks knowing this day would come. We've done special things--like computer stuff and music CD's that I know calm him as well.

    I do social stories for school, about his particular school so he's ready. We've gone up to visit and walk around the outside this past week and will go again on Monday for a private run around inside. He'll meet his teacher then.

    It takes 6 weeks, minimum! All the while we keep things the same as it possibly can be. We literally go into a protective mode, for lack of a better term, and just stay home and let him recoup.

    @Grace--That's the thing, I usually miss what's going on till later. This one I've been able to see a mile away! I thought of you with Ryan writing this as I remember you having a similar experience.

    Thanks lady, now go out and get a free drunk on tonight!!! :)

  7. Aw, Lizbeth. You've gone and made me cry. Not just tears in the eyes, but sliding down the cheeks.

    I'm sitting here hoping for ya, sister. My dad always says "this too shall pass" and he's always been right -- but dammit, that doesn't help while it's going on, now does it?

    Hugs to you and Alex.

  8. My heart was in my mouth reading this and I nearly stopped especially as I am that person who has lost it and just walked out the door until my woebegone kids called me back. And you and he pulled it back from the brink, I don't know whether to sigh or cry xx

  9. Ah, my heart skipped a beat when I read that he actually touched her! should always hope. Take it from someone who has lived with autism for 30 years. Some days are just better than others.

  10. I wish I could give you both a hug. The first two years of school were very hard here too. He still hates school but it got better.

    Now hoping it stays that way - there's no option to homeschool in Germany. It's practically a crime.

  11. OH Lizbeth, it seems like just as you've finally turned a corner there's another wall just waiting to be smacked into. Too many transitions and not enough time in between..I understand totally and I'm so sorry that summer is coming to an end.
    The fact that he touched his teacher is beautiful, though.
    I'm sending you hugs and good thoughts.

  12. oh wow, when I read this, childhood memories came to me:

    "I know, I know. But listen to me. Did you know if you use your words, she'll understand your feelings? She will. Trust me. I bet she's sad too."

    A part of me remembered that I was very egocentric as a child. And I had pride. For some reason I did not like anybody to tell me what to do 'directly', more as a story and perhaps I would do what the example of the story did. However, when I re-read your comment to your child, I also think that it helped him somehow but not really all the way and it puzzles me.

    Interesting post, I hope I don't struggle too much in the future.


  13. Oh my yes. I want to go home, suck my thumb, and snuggle my woobie. And, when I remember I'm the Mom who has to keep her shit together for her little one, it makes me want to go boneless, throw myself on the floor, and melt down like there's no tomorrow. But, I've always been very mature for my age.

    So happy that Alex reached out! Unbelievably sweet and what a great moment of achievemenet.

  14. YES!!! He used words instead.WHOOP!! I know it was at the end but well done Alex.AND he recognised the emotion (well, one anyway!)that he was feeling. hang onto that...with both hands;-) (you know what I mean here, don't you?!)

    Btw... I'm typing this from my hideout on the patio trying to escape familial demands. it's getting dark and cold. i will put on a fleece and turn o n the lights!! I hear you...I hear ya;-)
    xx jazzy

  15. I like that Alec listened to you about the touch! He did it on his own time, but he did it.

    My husband is completely freaking out that he has to go back to school tomorrow. And he's a teacher.

  16. The end of summer transition is so hard. Poor little guy.

  17. This is a huge breakthrough! And it totally brought tears to my eyes. I can so relate to how he's feeling, you know? And I am so impressed with how you handled it, how you explained to him that he could be understood. This is just amazing.

  18. I really felt for you both reading this and it brought tears to my eyes. You handled it much better than I think I would have and you made a major breakthrough :)

  19. Dear Lizbeth,

    I think you are a totally amazing mum. and he so got it. I get his dread and your dread for back to school. Oatie in his innocence is looking forward to it and last year there was almost a picket line to have Oatie removed from preschool. Obviously Cerebral Palsy is contagious...??!?!?

    Your post brought tears to my eyes too but the bit when he touched her hand made my day.


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