I became a high functioning autism parent earlier this year, but the writing was on the wall long before my 6yo daughter’s diagnosis. The biggest tell tale sign was her incredibly poor sleep. Next up, the classic toddler like behaviour that wasn’t being outgrown.
P being up between ten and twenty times every night was the norm for us for so long, it doesn’t even seem possible now that we were able to function most days. Let alone hold down jobs and have two more children in the midst of it all. Lets just say number three wasn’t exactly planned, and was almost an immaculate conception!
If you are also a high functioning autism parent, you might take some comfort (however small or brief) from my little list below. If I’ve learnt just one thing on this journey, it’s that it is always nice to not feel so alone.
Are you a high functioning autism parent?
You awake bleary eyed and light headed, sometimes after being up most of the night, all you want to do is curl into a ball on the sofa and rest your weary bones. There’s absolutely no time for dwelling on your wants and needs though, because the kids have no regard whatsoever for your exhaustion. They’re screaming they are hungry and thirsty, and NEED BREAKFAST NOW. The only thing to do is drink your own body weight in coffee.
Speaking of the magic black stuff, when you’ve been up since 4am (again!) and have drunk what most people consider to be their entire quota by 8am. That.
Some days it’s a miracle you even get to lunchtime without one of them having a serious accident. On an occasion that your NT child injures themselves, your HFA child will need almost as much TLC afterwards to avert a meltdown.
Speaking of the ‘M word’ you’ve become so well versed at knowing what the triggers are, that you can intercept 90% of them before they have even begun. The other 10% leave you a quivering wreck, reaching for the gin bottle at the earliest possible moment.
Lunch time brings the usual fights over who will eat what, and annoyance over something. For example I’M REALLY CROSS WITH YOU BECAUSE YOU PUT MY ELSA PLATE UPSIDE DOWN!
Don’t even get me started on the pinching and brain splitting screaming!
When you venture out in the afternoon your HFA child wants to take their scooter. Do you even get to the park before you’re dragging them along on it, or having to hold it / hook it up over the baby’s buggy because they refuse to go on it? Noooooooo.
You let the kids watch a bit of TV in the the pre-witching hour lull, and know already which episodes of which shows they will watch. In fact you could probably recite most them if you thought about it hard enough.
Dinner time brings more arguments over what will be eaten. Yesterday’s fave food is looked at in disgust today. And it is utterly imperative that frozen peas (still frozen) are served up alongside every single meal. Woe betide you if you run out!
You try to stay calm during the witching hour, you really do, but some days it’s too much and you all end up in a broken heap.
Once everyone is finally asleep, you creep down the stairs to stare into space for a bit. While in your daydream you start counting your blessings, and realise how much there is to be grateful about.
You think of the positives that Autism has brought to your life.
You marvel at how bright your HFA child is.
How wonderful it is that they are excelling in many areas.
You think of how much love your HFA child is capable of displaying, and you feel as though your heart will burst with joy.
Then you hear the words Muuuuuuum! I NEED YOU! NOW! being screamed from up the stairs.
You take a big deep breath, and brace yourself.
Looks like it’s going to be another long night!