Those four little words sound like a general, daily question ..
On this occasion, they acted as a que to let go & admit defeat. I had just picked Ethan up from nursery; what was to unfold was completely unexpected and caught me off guard to say the least.
He had become attached to a spiderman figure throughout the morning; when home time came around, he did not want to let go of the toy that had become ‘his toy’. Making our way through the nursery had become a battle, compared to the usual experience, of ethan skipping through the building & often tidying up as he went along.
We found a quiet place next to acorn the nursery pet and, we sat on the floor for 10 minutes. This is normally the best way for ethan to calm down, I explain what is happening & then whilst ethan doesnt always appreciate the situation, we manage to leave & slowly ‘forget’ about the item that he had fallen in love with.
Today, however, was not one of those ‘usual’ days. Ethan had a complete meltdown; whilst other children might have a tantrum and the parents are able to distract them or move them away. Ethan cannot be moved, he goes as ridgit as a board, cries histerically, hits, shouts and swings himself around in any way possible.No amount of cuddles, kisses, distractions or explainations are going to work.
In ethan’s mind, he had gotten so attached to the toy, that he could not understand when it had to be taken off of him & left at nursery.
Ethan’s 1:1 came and managed to get ethan to show me a cow he had helped to paint that morning. One of the many lovely nursery teachers came over & asked the question that I usually answer with a happy, cheery smile on my face.
‘Are you ok mum?’ I heard the words and in my head I was thinking, ‘We’re both tired, Ethan is inconsoleable & I can’t comfort him’. As a mum you want to be able to stop your child’s tears & hurt. I looked at the teacher & I felt the lump in my throat build; I thought I could supress the tears, but for the 1st time in that environment I began to sob. Two nursery teachers later & we were on our way home.
I refused from day 1 of our journey, to allow myself to feel or show any weakness, sadness or defeat in the slightest.I was the one to ask the professionals, all of the questions that I needed to be answered, any advice or help was gratefully received. I would chase up appointments or ring up the hospital, when they refused to play ball with regards to Ethan’s diagnosis. These are examples of instances, where I knew there was no room for negiotiation with emotions. Although frustration & confusion were present most of the time.
I sat at home with a cuppa, whilst ethan began to play & I was able to evaluate what had just happened. Usually 9 times out of 10, I’m strong, organised & well prepared for a meltdown like today’s example. I try to make sure that I get everything in place, that will help ethan to go about his day as calmly & peacefully as possible.
Then I remembered, I’m human, everyone has that one moment or day when things just get too much. I’am constantly realising that it is almost impossible to find the answers to each & every question; I won’t always be able to console ethan during a meltdown & thats ok. As long as I’m there next to him to wipe his tears and hug him; that’s all that matters & it’s all he needs to feel safe after the meltdown has happened.
Thank you for taking the time to read my 1st ever blog post, the next one will follow shortly. I promise the next one will focus more on one of the many highlights of our family experience with autism.