I’m not usually one for getting on social media and ranting, I learnt a long time ago that it won’t solve my problems, or even make me feel better overall. I wrote this on my personal Facebook page last week though, couldn’t help myself.
“Fuck you autism I will not let you beat me. Instead I shall dance around the living room with my kids and SHAKE IT OFF!”
That afternoon my high functioning 6yo daughter had come home from school in an absolutely foul mood, and wanted all my attention – which as any mother of more than one child knows is impossible. I tried sitting with her on my lap and having a gentle hug, but the second I stood up to tend to the dinner she went postal. She was lashing out at the younger two, and pushed her 20mo brother over a couple of times when he came to innocently investigate what was going on. She was telling her three and a half year old sister that she hated her, that she was horrible and the worst sister in the world.
Our witching hour is more like three at the moment, and that evening was particularly bad.
Almost an hour and a half into this – and feeling utterly broken – I poured myself a G&T. It went a small way to help take the edge off the moody vibes, and allowed me to centre myself and take some deep breaths. Then I put the music on too loud, and we danced around the living room uptown funking and shaking it off.
For about thirty minutes everything was going marvellously; until I started nudging them upstairs to get ready for bed. Which is when all hell broke loose again – cue more tears and tantrums, which continued until they were asleep.
When I finally coaxed the reason for P’s upset out of her, it transpired that she had been pushed over in the playground. Not only had she hurt herself, but she finds it exceptionally hard to let these things go. She holds on to the notion that the other person did it on purpose and was out to get her. I’d love to say this doesn’t happen very often at school, but that would be a bear faced lie. A few days later she came home with not one, but two slips to say that she’d banged her head (the incidences happened within 90 minutes of each other). She is so much smaller than most of her friends, and often gets knocked over in the midst of other kids charging around. My heart nearly broke the other week when she told me that a ‘mean boy’ pushed her against the fence. This boy is in Reception for goodness sake, but bigger than her already. How embarrassing would that be when you’re in year two?
That’s a whole other story though.
After the kids had gone to sleep on Friday evening, hubby and I had a big old chat, and came to the conclusion that we need to tell P she is autistic. School had mentioned eight or nine being the optimum age, and other people say you shouldn’t tell them until they are in their teens, otherwise it will end up being used as ‘an excuse for bad behaviour’. Hubby attended a talk recently by the wonderful group Rainbow Sibs, and it would seem the consensus among the autism experts is that you can’t tell them soon enough. The idea is that once the child understands that their brain works differently to their friends/siblings they can start to process the ways that it impacts their life.
Getting a six year old to understand autism is a tall order. How can I expect P to just get it, when I find it a complete minefield and I’m thirty years older?
After returning home from our day off on Sunday we had planned on taking P out, while my in-laws were still here to watch the little ones. We weren’t able to do this in the end, as Andy’s Granddad (who was very ill) had taken a turn for the worst and his mum and dad had to rush off. Unfortunately he passed away in the early hours of Monday morning, and we had to have another sensitive conversation with the children instead. This has highlighted something that we knew already.
There will never be a perfect time to tell her.
Life will get in the way, and we could find excuse after excuse to put it off if we were so inclined. So we shall do it this weekend.
Collectively we’ve read endless books, blogs and forums about autism this year. All of them impart some wisdom, and give us hope. The first year after diagnosis was always going to be hard work, but I’m confident that we will get through this, and move towards seeing autism as a blessing rather than a curse.