My son is a sweet child that honestly could not hurt a fly. When he was very small, he would go everywhere with me. We really were like buddies, always together. Heck, I even flew with him on an airplane 3 times by his first birthday! Around 15 months of age, a drastic change occurred in my son. The calm, sweet, curious boy who loved going places with me would shut down when taken into social settings. It was right around this time that the large, heavy blanket infatuation started. My sister had gotten two large fleece Vera Bradley throws for my husband and I and my son wouldn’t go anywhere without one, or even sometimes both, of them. I realized quickly that my son was dealing with anxiety being around people. So I found ways to accommodate him and let him know that he was safe and that everything will be alright. I explain it best to his sisters like this: For a child with autism, anything and everything can be scary to them in strange, loud places with unfamiliar people. We just let him know that he’s okay and we do our best to remain calm and centered and try best not to become flustered so that he can feed off of our positive vibes. It might sound silly, but it works for us, and most importantly, for our son. Sure, there are some places we don’t go and don’t force him to go, but now we can go to the grocery store without him having a full-blown meltdown because of it.
Autism Parenting Magazine has introduced Social Stories for Autistic Children, and it’s a wonderful tool for helping with these stressful situations!
Just as I had mentioned above, along with the anxiety, my son suddenly began having uncontrollable meltdowns around 15 months of age. I totally understand that kids can go off the deep end sometimes, but these were unlike anything I had ever seen in my life. My child would scream bloody murder for no reason, or be inconsolable at the drop of the hat. And this was not because something had triggered him. This was out of the thin air. But worst of all, attempting to console him would only prove to make matters worse. As a mother, this was extremely difficult because I felt utterly helpless. My son didn’t have the ability to talk and tell me what was wrong and if I tried to hold him or pick him up he would go berserk on me. Kick me, hit me, you name it. And since he was generally such a kindhearted little fellow, this was incredibly perplexing to me. I learned from medical professionals that I had to let him self-soothe, calm down, and come back to being himself once he had let out all his troubles and frustrations. I will tell you that those scary moments do not happen anymore, and I am beyond grateful for it. Watching my son scream out of confusion, frustration, and likely anger, honestly made me feel as if my heart was shattering into a million tiny pieces.
Each child has their own journey in life. For my son, Boston, his will just have a few more hurdles to jump over. But I will tell you one thing, he has a mother by his side that will always advocate for him and get him the help that he needs to become the best version of himself that he can. My son started ABA Therapy full-time on November 7, 2017 and it has honestly changed his entire life. He now attends preschool five half-days in the Severe Communication Delay (SCD class) at a local elementary as well as three half days a week at the same ABA Therapy he attended previously on a full-time basis.
A diagnosis of autism is life-altering. It can test your sanity, your marriage, your pocketbook, your parenting, anything, really. But you know what it’s taught me? It’s shown me that I am stronger and braver than I ever knew I could be. This past October 2018 we walked in the Autism Speaks Houston walk as a family and it was an amazing event that I won’t soon forget. (And we even raised $2k to support the Autism Speaks foundation!)
We have good days and we have bad ones, but the power of positive thinking is what we use to help keep us strong for the sake of our son.
Autism has no cure, but it needs advocates to spread awareness and to show the world that a person living with Autism is different, and not less. I am one, and I hope that you can be, too.