A Mommy Blog About Raising Men, Not Boys.

Monday, June 23, 2014

Autism Never Takes a Vacation

Autism doesn't take a day off even when you take it on a nice vacation retreat for families WITH autism. It hangs around to make sure you remember it's there, in frustrating and upsetting ways.

For instance, we visited Fort Frederica while we were there, which is British fort from pre-revolutionary days. It's pretty interesting, they've marked the entire encampment out with street signs and the foundations of many buildings are there. It was, in fact, a small town. So while we were being mesmerized by history, Miles was asked to quit pulling on his sock , as he's been ripping holes in his socks every day.

And it was on.
For you see when the mood strikes, Miles cannot be told no. To hear NO is to hear that which destroys his sense of self and also kills all past and present puppies. I have to assume this is how he translates it, based on the tantrum that erupts. Our time at the fort was then punctuated by screaming and crying, and stomping, and his newest trick, scratching himself.

So while these two contemplated blowing up a sailboat in the inlet, Miles stomped and cried and was determined not to do what we were doing.
He stomped and cried around the ruins of His Majesty's magazine while we looked at the cannon and the view of the ruins. He wasn't going to have fun. We couldn't make him. He wasn't going to be made to enjoy this place. And he made sure it was difficult for us to enjoy.

You see that's autism. Irrational responses are par for the course. You might get 100 awesome, traditional responses from "Hey sweetie don't pull on your sock." But when you hit 101 you get a child who cannot be reasoned with, who gets further and further into the fit when you try to reason with him. Miles has nearly perfect receptive language skills, he understands everything that is said to him. But something goes wrong with how his brain processes responses, very often. It takes a toll on your patience, I admit.
While these two walked on the ruins (probably not supposed to, I dunno), and Charlie just held hands and looked around, Miles stomped his way toward the the exit as we finished our visit. The best trick, often, is to use EXTINCTION. We just stop paying any attention to him. Sometimes it doesn't work, especially lately, and he ratchets up the screaming and scratching until you really do have to intervene for his own sake. Sometimes though, if you just ignore him long enough, the tantrum runs it's course.
At that point, his baby sister is often the best medicine, as she will tell us he is her hunnybunny and takes him in hand.
By the time we get to the exit, whatever episode was happening, THE SOCK INCIDENT I'll call it, is over. They've held hands and giggled all the way through the rest of the fort.

Sometimes I think people don't realize that we have so much go on in the way of meltdowns and tantrums even when we are out. That's probably because I don't share them that often, as I want to remember the happy moments. But in fairness to all the autism parents out there, I felt like I needed to share that even though there may be a scene of epic proportions, we still GO.

And so should you.


Unknown said...

i dont think one can truly understand it til you live it yourself. Its heartbreaking to watch your child get upset and be totally helpless at times...and also depending on myself ( woo bipolar mom with autistic kid what a combo!) its irritating as well. Hang in there!