I went to pick up the Zak from school and it was just about his birthday party. His 7th Birthday party was due the next day. My son had been doing pictographs on the computer with his class. He was very attached to it. I entered the school to get him. He was sitting at the computers. Everyone else had gone. He was very hesitant and seemed to want to recreate or retrieve the page that he had done previously on the computer. He didn’t know how to do it. It was time to go home but he just could not stop. The teachers wanted to close the school. He was visibly anxious. Tapping anxiously at the keyboard. I helped him out of the class room, as I thought that he couldn’t help himself to follow the instruction of leaving the room and go outside for a change of scenery.
Once he was outside he went to get his bag but he could not find a former picture he had done earlier that day, his picture, he found it lying in the dirt. He got terribly upset about it. The picture had got a tear in it. That tipped the meltdown scales, the paper had ripped and he was so indignant that this had happened. He turned into a mess. I kept telling him that I wanted him to calm down and walk with me to the car. He could not. He was so caught up, getting stuck on the picture in his mind in his. No flexibility in this situation. He was pacing anxiously.
I didn’t want to have to carry him (20 kilos’s) to the car. Thinking back now, I should of just picked him up and popped him in the car. In hindsight putting him in the car, a smaller space where he is emotionally more comfortable would have been the perfect place to put him. I should of popped his sunglasses on to limit light filtering into his eyes and overstimulating him.
I was upset and I was unsure of what to do. I was embarassed that my son was acting like this and I could not control his behavior because he would not do anything I asked. I never wanted to be embarrassed by my sons behavior and only loving and accepting. Did I feel ashamed? Shame is the last thing I ever want to feel. I want to have a steel heart to shame. I want to put on my armoured suit to shame as I have always found it very unhelpful to getting things done. But I will say that shame is a wonderful societal cosnstruct that if unawares can get you off your high horse and shut you down. I hate the term. Oh great! Shame and embarrassment. I hate those words. I never want to talk about those words because I find these words self limiting. I struggle with the word and the feeling of shame. Why do I feel this way?
I really didn’t know about Autism at the time or I was in denial about it. I wanted the happy family picture where everything was calm and alright but it was far from calm at times. The one that is portrayed in the media but is far from reality for allot of people. I coulldn’t explain the anxiety and all I knew was that I loved him. I knew that I just had to love him whatever he was going through. I had to tell him that I loved him. I heard the words of my Nanna in my head “Don’t let the Bastards (other people’s expectations) get you down Jane!?”. “Don’t let the Bastards get you down Zak!”
The next day was his Birthday party. Most of that night I lay awake resenting my son’s behavior. Not one of my finest all loving mummy moments. I did not understand at that stage that his Autism fixation was a significant factor to making him act like this. I felt distant from my son. I felt that I was going through the motions of the kid party routine without feeling really great about it.
What did I do about it:
- read allot of biographies about Autism Spectrum Disorder.
- Found support
- Found respite
- I understand now that his high pitched loud talking at times is his own regulation control mechanism to motivate himself to do something he doesn’t want to do. I’m ok with that. Maybe when he gets into ananxiety/fretful state he may use his voice/loudness as a sonar to detect where he is in space?
Written and Authorised by Jane Muras, 4 Henry st, Hectorville, SA 5073 Candidate for Hectorville Ward CCC 2018