Tuesday, April 12, 2011

It was only one hour

Yesterday was a stressful evening. Funny how I look at that sentence today…and now I feel so selfish.

What made it stressful? My son was having anxiety attacks. His own stress must have been magnified a thousand times greater than mine, and I just wanted him to calm down and let it go. I wanted peace and quiet. That was selfish of me.

Puppy was doing well on the way home after picking him up from daycare. He mentioned to me that he had already done his homework. This consists of studying ten spelling words and reading some six paragraphs of a story. As a test, I asked him to repeat just one of the spelling words from this week’s new list. He couldn’t and so I told him we would go over the words one more time at home.

Bam! I heard, “No, I don’t want to, I did them in daycare!” And then it hit him. Yelling at mom was not good behavior. Oh, ooh. And wham! He started…”I’m sorry, don’t tell teacher“. “Teacher is going to take away my wallet!” “No, no, it’s my wallet, she can’t take it!” I heard this all the way home.

But it didn’t end when we arrived home. I told him I would change out of my work clothes and then we’d get started on his homework. He decided to follow me upstairs and again, yelled a nice big, “NO!” I reminded him that he should not raise his voice to mom, and directed him to go rest for a while in his room while I got changed. Not even 10 minutes passed when he was in my room asking for forgiveness. I accepted and after a small talk about what had happened earlier; he willingly headed downstairs to start working on spelling words.

Normally, this would continue into a quieter evening of homework, supper, television, talking, laughing, and then bedtime after his shower. But needless to say, we are not like other "normal" families.

As Puppy was beginning his homework he began to ask repeatedly, "Am I behaving?" "What are you going to write in the notebook?" "I'm being so good, mom?" "Don't tell teacher I yelled." "It's my wallet, no, no, no one takes it!" And as easily as those statements were spoken, his tears started to fall, his temperature was rising, his voice was stronger, and he was in full anxiety mode. Puppy was in overload and stressing over the notes I was going to write in the communication notebook to his teacher about our evening.

With a little help and reassurance from his teacher via texting, Puppy began to cool down and he was reacting to the praises on his homework and forgetting about why he was upset in the first place. At least so I thought. Once his work was done he did ask if I was going to tell his teacher he had bad behavior at home and apologized many times for having a difficult time.

My son was apologizing. He's come so far. He realized what he had done and identified it as unwanted behavior and apologized for it. He was specific to the yelling at mom, the crying and talking back. I'm remembering now, and I do remember that I also apologized to him for upsetting him. I must have, it was only us two. I'm guilty of forgetting how easy it is for Puppy to take my words literally and it can bring on thoughts and memories that cause him to react beyond his control.

This happened last night between the hour of 6:30 P.M. and 7:30 P.M. It was only one hour of our day; but it felt like four. This is only a small example of living with autism.