As many of you know, Graham has been vocalizing more. Whether this is simple scripting, or actual language remains to be determined. Regardless, it is a huge step forward for him. However, it has led to something else. He is stimming more, melting down more, and has been more violent.
Before autism, my natural reaction was to respond to violence with violence. I’ve been that way for years. You hit me and I strike back. It is just the way I’m built and was raised. It has been one of the hardest aspects of myself to deny. It doesn’t help anything or anyone. If anything, it just makes the child more upset/meltdown harder, and now you feel awful.
Luckily, Graham is three. He is small. He is very strong for his age, but I’m more so. I can grab him, wrap him in a bear hug, and hold him steady until he calms down. This is often like fighting a pro wrestling octopus, but I manage. I give him deep stimulation with the hug, and it grounds him. He calms down, I give him tickles, and he’s good for a bit. But, my dark passenger whispers in my ear.
“How are you going to manage ten years from now when he’s nearly as big as you? How are you going to keep him from hurting himself or others? How are you going to manage without destroying half the house?”
Truth is I have no idea how to answer those questions. I only hope that it becomes more of a non-issue as he learns self-management skills. I mean I’m trained to restrain adults. I’ve been doing it for years. It’s different when it is your child. That is going to be a delicate balance that I am not ready to deal with. Him melting down, swinging at us in frustration with the strength of an adult. Having to restrain him, hold and comfort him, without getting hurt in the process. However, getting hurt isn’t my main concern. At that age, he would be able to hurt someone. I’m more worried about Courtney. I am worried about family. I am worried about friends, therapist, teachers, peers, and the random people at Wal-Mart. But, most of all, I’m worried about my temper. I am a very self-reflective person. I know myself. I know what I am capable of doing. I also know how I’ll react to being hit with force and purpose.
I work hard at curbing that reaction now. I practice, because meltdowns aren’t going away. We work with him now, to be able to minimize the mental image of having to wrap my half-grown child in the middle of the grocery store. It is scary and embarrassing to think about, and that is why we do what we do. To not only give our child the best chance at life, but ourselves as well.