Where is Lauren Thierry when ya need her?
My daughter has tantrums, some are like any other child her age, most though, are major meltdowns, like you've seen on that film. They've been a fact of life for quite a while for us. I can't tell you the last time I've really spoken to anyone about them. In the beginning, we were dumbfounded and were not sure what was going on. Now, we know, it's simply a part of the whole picture. I don't gripe to our family, friends, or neighbors about them, I'm not looking for sympathy. We have learned to just deal with the meltdowns. My husband and I have our game plan pretty well laid out. We try like hell to avoid them altogether and we try our best to fizzle out the fit when we see it starting. But, most of the time, it is out of all our hands. Then we are on defense. Our daughter's room has had all furniture secured to the wall, and there is nothing heavy she can pull down. That's not to say I'd recommend going in with your guard down--there's no guarantee that a train engine or wooden block won't speed past your head! In general though, we've put the safeguards in place so that she won't get hurt when the world just gets to be too much for her.
She can go to her room, get the rage, confusion, pain, whatever it may be, out of her system. I wait down the hall or at her doorway, making sure she is okay. Some days, she simply needs to cry and work it out. Other times, she will allow me to pick her up and hold her. We will rock together and I hold her close to me, nice and secure. Sometimes, we head to the front porch, where we have rocking chairs, chimes, and a fountain. All of these things have been proven to be a great investment, they really help calm our little one. My heart does ache--for my daughter. I can't imagine how she must feel during these meltdowns.
At home, we just roll with them. When we are out in public, we've also gotten pretty good at managing meltdowns. I will admit, when it's just me, it is a lot tougher. Today was one of those days. We were on a sidewalk, my daughter had already hit me twice and was screaming. She pulled away from me. I had to squeeze my hands with all my might around her wrists to keep a hold of her. Her scream was blood-curdling. My heart was pounding, one slip and I know she'd have taken off. I was able to finally pick her up, although I felt sure any onlookers would think I was kidnapping this thrashing child. This drama continued to unfold as I attempted to get her into our car, and then buckled. She was slapping, kicking, and throwing whatever she could get her hands on. A perfect scene for Autism Everyday, I thought to myself later on.
When we were safely buckled & locked in the car, we headed for the closest drive-thru. She was still screaming, as I placed my order, repeatedly into the speaker. When I arrived at the cashier's window, he asked me how I was. I smiled and said, "well, we've been better," as my daughter continued to yell from the backseat. He warmly smiled back and gently said, "Don't you worry, everything will be alright. It will be alright."
I hold onto simple moments like that--a kind person, saying the perfect words at just the right time. I took comfort in this exchange, a stranger who took the time to say something nice--who says this world is so doomed? Minutes later, everything was alright. My daughter was happily munching on chicken nuggets and happy as can be. When we arrived back home, I set up our Christmas train. My daughter, the screaming, hitting, crying child who had fought me hours earlier, sat next to me. Smiling, she took my hand in hers (something she only has ever done when trying to pull me somewhere) and started rocking side to side. I did the same. She then began to sing, a song never sung before--a whole new carol! There we were, Christmas train circling the tree, my child and I rocking and making beautiful music.
This is what I am remembering and smiling over as I get ready for bed this evening. I have an amazing daughter who held my hand and serenaded me--this life is extraordinary! That wonderful memory is what remains from this day. That is my reality. That is my Autism everyday.
Where is Lauren Thierry when ya need her?