I saw this one Facebook, here: Insane in the Mom – Brain and they got it from somewhere else. I enjoyed reading the comments so much, and agreed at what the comments were saying. I’m not one who usually reads comments because of that whole losing faith in humanity thing that happens when you do.
Still I wanted to chime in, but I’m really easily upset by negative comments (which I shouldn’t have said that, the trolls can smell fear and treats you know) but I just wanted to say that yes this mother is only 2 weeks into motherhood.
I am the mother of an autistic child, he’s highly functioning and will be 16 this year in August. When my son was an infant, it was the easiest time for me to be a mom, yes I had a handle on motherhood and probably the only time I ever had. As he got older we realized something was not exactly quite right, he was two years old and still hadn’t said any words, not even baby speak. We were actually worried about his being deaf, but he gave indications that he could hear. My friends and family kept telling me I was spoiling my son. If I stopped giving him what he wanted he’d start talking. This is the worst advice I’d ever been given. My son would reach for my cup, he wanted a drink. Instead of handing it to him, I would move it out of his reach and tell him he had to say: Drink. What my son did instead was go into the kitchen, climb on a chair, get a cup off the counter, opened the fridge and proceeded to pour half a gallon of milk into an 8 oz cup. Denying my son what he wanted until he asked for it made him severely independant. Instead of asking, he just took what he wanted, and did what he wanted. It took years to finally get him to ask for things again.
At 2 and a half he was finally diagnosed autistic and this was 13 years ago, I had no idea what autism was, I’d never heard of it. I didn’t know how to mom to an autistic child, no one in my family or circle of friends had autistic children or experience. How did do I discipline a child who doesn’t seem to understand that he’s done something wrong (stealing) or even to understand that he was being punished? The years of 4, 5 and 6 were the worst. Giving my son a ‘Time Out’ was impossible. He wouldn’t stay in ‘Time Out’ he’d just get up and go back to what he was doing.
Then there were the meltdowns. I was trying to explain them to a friend who recently had a child and I was reminiscing about my son being an autistic toddler and she actually asked me: What is a meltdown?
Most parents experience toddler tantrums but autistic meltdowns or worse, shutdowns, are just scary. My son would run himself into things and bounce off. Screaming and crying the entire time. I hated taking my son to the grocery store or even out to dinner, I felt like such a horrible mom as my son thrashed, usually in my arms, not necessarily screaming, but he made this keening noise, and it was loud, because we had done something that interrupted his world somehow. Then he’d just stop and lay limp, eyes closed, like a ragdoll, like I had killed him. He responded to nothing, not his name, not bribes, nor threats, it was like he just retreated into himself. (Knowing what I know now, this was usually caused by sensory overload, which autism children are susceptible to, I tried to take my son to a movie theater to see Finding Nemo and he screamed and cried because the lights and sounds were too much for him.)
It wasn’t until my son was nearly a teen that I felt like I could finally talk to him. Still to this day, at 15, it is hard to get him to express his thoughts. He has never fully grasped the W questions: What, Why, Where, When & How. He understands What, When and Where but Why and How are still a mystery to him. If you ask him why he did something or how he did something (has to do with abstract thinking) he doesn’t have an answer. He shuts down and just stands there silent.
My son has been in SSD (Special School District) since he was 2 and a half, just after he was diagnosed and the first time I was ever to communicate with my son was with the help of SSD, they taught him sign language to ask for DRINK, MORE, COOKIE, EAT. People ask what was my son’s first words: COOKIE and then I sign it for them because that was his first word in sign language.
During all these years I worked, I don’t anymore, but I had a full time job the first 6 years of my son’s life, my husband worked full time, and when Andrew turned 3, he had a baby sister, so now I had an autistic toddler and an infant, and decided to go back to school. I had no sleep, and yes my house was a disaster. As for the poster’s comment about peanut butter on the curtains was a sign of the parent not watching their child, let me ask this: What do you do when your son wakes up in the middle of the night (and doesn’t wake you) and goes into the kitchen to make himself a snack? Yes we had a lock on the fridge (because of the milk incident) or rather gets up and just colors on the walls? In poo? (I had to mention that but I was blessed that neither of my kids played in their poo, but they did play with the toilet water.)
Now years later, social media is full of autism awareness and help and insights. I like to hope that after blindly raising my autistic child I haven’t screwed him up too much. He’s currently a Freshman in High School and has been on the Honor Roll most of his school years (last year we had an issue where he decided to just stop doing homework and his grades fell.) We have to take one day at a time and just remember, he’s gonna be driving in less than a year. I can just feel my hair going gray.
A side note, when I worked full time I worked nights, my husband worked days. I worked 9 PM to 5 AM, I got home about 5:30, my husband worked 7 AM to 3 PM. When I got off work I’d go straight to sleep and get up at 7:30 to put my son on the bus at 8 to go to pre-school, but my daughter would be home and if she managed a nap between 8 and 11 I’d sleep when she did, then my son got off the bus at 11:30, and then I’d stay up until my husband got home from work around 3:30 and I’d go back to bed, and sleep until 8 and get ready for work again. The only time I got a full 8 hours of sleep were on my husband’s days off.