There are not enough words to express the challenges that daily life can bring when you are the parent of an autistic child. The most simple of tasks can be a war of attrition where your wits are frayed and your patience tested. It is downright impossible at times to be able to fathom just what exactly caused the upheaval in the serene balance of your autistic child. One moment the child can be content, placid, serene and joyful, the next minute the child can be violent, destructive, agitated and clearly distressed, often with no possible way of discerning just what caused the upset to begin with.
These past few days has left me upon the brink of exhaustion. Two massive meltdown in three days, for reasons that are yet to become clear to me, both meltdowns being violent, loud and lasting for over an hour. It becomes impossible to reason with my child when in the midst of a meltdown, even when the solution offered is the desired solution of the child, no response beyond violence and shouting is received. As it can be ascertained without a shadow of a doubt, this can become quite emotionally taxing.
Despite the difficulties and frustrations, there is an incredible brilliance that underlies my child. The way my progeny thinks is remarkable, as is his ability to be able to come up with solutions to the most complex logical puzzles. Yet socially and emotionally, he faces a constant struggle to deal with the notions that are ever so simplistic and common to us.
As a parent, I am expected to have the solutions to his problems, but for an Autistic child, the simplest of problems oft have the most complex of solutions. There are times when I question my abilities as a parent, when the emotional taxation almost becomes too much to bear. Yet all that fades away, the moment I gaze upon his cheeky little grin as he plays with his siblings. It is hard to describe, yet these small moments, are the moments that I live for.
I am a father, to an Autistic child, and I would not change that for a single second. Yes my child having autism brings forth a variety of complex challenges that test and educate me in every single way possible, but without the autism, my child would not be the brilliant child that he truly is today. Autism and my child form a complex symbiotic union, which makes it impossible to separate one from the other.
Although tears might converge upon my visage during the more taxing emotional moments when exhaustion becomes a reality, I cannot fathom a life wherein my child is not autistic, my child is as he is, and in my eyes, he is a vision of perfection, and autism is just a part of what makes my child tick, in a manner of speaking…
Exhaustion is now taking over, and I feel the sandman slowly approaching, to send me to a world of dreams and rest. As you can ascertain, today’s blog has been an attempt to give a brief highlight into the emotional aspect of being a parent to an autistic child. I hope that it has been somewhat educational as to the complexity that surrounds even the most basic of tasks.
The emotional aspect of being an autistic parent is difficult to accurately place into words, like with all children there are trials, tribulations, joy, laughter, frustration and moments that take your breath away. However, the difficulty lies within being able to adapt your child to the outside world whilst still being cognisant of the complex needs that your child has, and making the right adjustments, especially considering the fact that the adjustment that served you well today, might just be utterly useless in the same situation tomorrow…
Recently we attended parent’s evening with our child, and in all honesty, the social and emotional aspect of school, was something that I had worried about. Seeing as my child was in his first year in full time education, I fretted that perhaps he would struggle, seeing as how resistant he can be to change. I was also concerned that his meltdowns would be plentiful and lead to social isolation within the school environment.
However, I am thrilled to say that I could not have been more mistaken. The information relayed to us was that meltdowns had been few and far between. My child had shown signs of cognitive, emotional, social and scholastic development in levels that was hitherto unexpected. Scholastically he still has a few areas in which he needs to develop further, but my child’s development has been beyond the level expected and needless to say, we were overjoyed. The most joyful moment however has come in his social development.
At the start of the school year, my child would oft play alongside other children, but essentially kept himself in isolation, seemingly avoiding to partake or be included in any social circle. in the last few weeks however, he has not only shown clear desire to be included in a social circle, but has also made a couple of friends, with whom he plays a number of games together with, with fully inclusive levels of social interaction including dialogue, sharing, turn taking and an understanding of the individual needs of his social circle, being adjacent in importance to his own.
Normally, this would be something that we as parents can expect to take for granted as part of the development of our children, however, for the parent of an autistic child, this can be as momentous a moment as a scientific discovery or a sporting achievement. The social and emotional difficulties of autism oft mean that the aforementioned social interaction is few and far between, outside of a familiar setting for the child (usually the familiar setting for social interaction for the child being his or her immediate family), and for my child to show such development in the social aspect of his life, going far beyond the expectations in place, brought tears to my eyes.
This in a way, is the brilliance that autism brings to the table, yes there are many challenges, which can be complex, confusing and emotionally exhausting, however, it does teach you an appreciation for the things that you would normally have taken for granted, such as the social interaction above, and therein lies the beauty of it.
Autism has allowed me to become more aware of the continual development that happens between birth and adulthood, and given me a greater understanding into complexity of it all. An awareness if you will, that sometimes, the simple things in life, are just not that simple, and I’m certain that more lessons for me lie ahead, lessons that I’m prepared, willing and eager to learn.
Yet for now, I must acquiesce to the desires of the sandman, and enter peaceful slumber, to rest, and upon awakening, be fully prepared for the challenges that await me.