Gosh, I’m feeling sooo tired today. Mostly normal life stuff. Husband went off on a ski trip with his mates for 6 days then came home injured and with a nasty chest infection… so actually he’s out of action for another 3 days and counting! Thank you for my me time this morning to write my weekly post, a hot coffee and an almond croissant.
Whilst he was absent our 7 yr old daughter seemed to really struggle with her emotions. Of course she missed him, but I’m talking about perhaps she experienced a hormone growth spurt as she was quite exhausted and needed quite a bit of rest.
For the first time I really saw some disturbing patterns in her behaviour to make me worried that she may have ‘inherited’ my ASD brain. She has always been a dear little fairy-like soul always in her imagination, ballerina dancing around humming some little melody she’s made up. She has also always been a little girl who can’t be rushed or stressed out, something I noticed even as young as 2 years old. If I rushed her to leave the house she’d only be able to go slower, or freeze altogether, especially if I shout in my own frustration.
When my husband experienced an unexpected extreme outburst from her at the dinner table last night he couldn’t believe what he was hearing/seeing! Luckily I’d dealt with about 3 outbursts since he’d been away and knew the pattern. We get rocking, crashing, banging, stomping, screaming, rage and frustration. Sometimes she will trudge with her feet whilst facing a wall or the banister rail. It’s really quite disturbing to watch.
During her first meltdown I totally overcompensated (I can see this now, because I discussed it in therapy afterwards). I couldn’t leave her side. I wanted to constantly hug her tight and let her know I love her. I tried to find out whether something bad had happened to her. Basically I was massively triggered seeing her struggling internally and she was trapped inside her head… and I freaked out trying to ‘save’ her. Hence, armed with some lessons learned, when she had a meltdown last night, I tried to act normal around her, warned my husband not to wind her up further or say anything punishing.
Eventually I got quite worried with the crashing and banging in her bedroom above the kitchen. I went up. She must have heard me coming. She came out of the room and stood at the top of the stairs looking absolutely frazzled, like a rabbit in the headlights. I stood down a few steps so that I was at her level and just stood there and slightly leant in towards her waiting to see if she’d lean into me. Miracle. She did. We had a connecting peaceful nurturing silence and she rapidly switched back to her ‘normal’ almost as bubbly self.
As a result of my lack of parenting from a very young age, my ASD was not formerly diagnosed until I was an adult, although many had suspected autism for years. My meltdowns as a young child my daughter’s age and even younger were much more extreme. Now, what I don’t know is were they more extreme only because of my ASD and because I was being abused? Or if I hadn’t been abused, would I have had the same level of meltdowns if it was just the ASD?
Now I have read a thing or two about this – whether or not to get my children assessed for ASD. I have already been advised by a Consultant Psychiatrist at The Priory that it is likely our youngest son has ASD, but to monitor for now. Don’t panic, readers, I don’t want to label my children out there in a world that doesn’t understand ASD. I don’t want ASD to define them. I don’t want them to become stigmatised/alienated at school or amongst their peers, or heaven forbid outcast from their community.
They are both very bright children and I’m doing my best to psychoeducate and provide the support at home without them thinking/knowing their brain possibly functions ‘differently’ to their friends and their daddy, that they may have ASD, which would explain the dilemmas they experience with relationships, logic, black and white thinking. We have read Temple Grandin’s biographical book for children at bedtimes, which is really well written and illustrated, and I have seen our daughter on a few occasions getting it back off the bookshelf herself to re-read it.
Our young son has many more obvious traits for ASD. His eating problems for a start! I don’t feel quite so worried for him generally, although I’m beginning to feel very anxious about him starting primary school in September. I know unconsciously I panic more about our daughter, because I was once a misunderstood little girl who was screamed at, locked away to deal with my violent and destructive meltdowns on my own, punished. I don’t want her to ever feel the way I did. I never want her to ‘get it wrong’ in coming to the wrong assumptions about people and situations that can put her either at risk or in a social awkward position, especially in the playground. I am constantly subtly helping to unpick her school day, particularly where her friendships are concerned or when she doesn’t understand behaviour of the other pupils around her.
Yes, I am being overprotective, trying to make her world safe. It is a fight I won’t always win. I have to accept that. However, I’m damn well going to give her the best tools and techniques I can, even though sometimes it might be a bit of ASD mummy leading the ‘ASD’ daughter.
My husband, before his ski holiday last week, told me that I worry too much (understandably) that the children may have ASD. He recommended that I approach it from the viewpoint that they don’t have ASD to avoid my anxiety worsening. As I said, that was before the ski holiday!