Sunday, November 6, 2011

Our meltdown

It started off to be a wonderful Saturday.  Puppy and I woke up alright, meaning we didn't have any grumpy attitude.  I include myself in the "we", because I do wake up grumpy sometimes, too.

This morning we had a schedule to follow:  breakfast, maybe begin chores and head out the door to our support group meeting by 10:00 a.m.  I fixed Puppy his pancakes, I had my meal and coffee, we got ready and off we were.

This is one of two groups in which I participate. It's a small group of about eleven families, more or less, so as time goes by we are becoming closer and closer.  We are able to take our kids because the meetings are held at a local autism therapy center.  It's like an indoor playground for the kids and it works out pretty well to know we are all together.  So back to business, we had a few topics to discuss, fundraisers, an out of town field trip, participating in an event sponsored by another support group, parade float, and a Thanksgiving luncheon. Once those were voted on and penned, we began working on an arts and crafts project to make cornucopia decorations for our luncheon next weekend.  I was finally able to get a little adult time with the other moms as Puppy played and colored with the other kids. But it was obvious that he was getting tired and wanting to leave. He was pacing back and forth, and constantly asking me how much longer so no mistaking the signs for anything else.  Our meeting lasted twice as long, two hours, and too long for Puppy.

We were finally home.  Puppy started a conversation with me, and already I can't remember exactly what was said but I'm pretty positive it must have been about his obsession and him asking when he can get his wallet back.  He wasn't satisfied with the answer I gave him and he sprung up off the sofa.  He started walking in circles, angry and cussing. Knowing this is wrong he came back to me to apologize, over and over. Then asking again, when will he get his wallet back. Still, he didn't like the answer and so this time he hit himself on the head with a closed fist. He stood up and knelt back down next to me.  His face was red with anger, and his hand stretched out to push a potted plant off its table and crashing to the tile floor, soil and broken ceramic where it fell. He seemed frightened by the sound and rather surprised the pot broke, he wasn't expecting that.  Then, there was a smirk of satisfaction showing he got my attention until he saw my expression was unchanged.  He stood up again to pace, curse and think of his next move.  What came next was not what I was expecting.  He was filled with rage and ready to explode but didn't know how to release the pressure.  His arm went up and the clenched teeth let me know I was his target.  I could have moved, but could not have stopped him from needing to punch, it was going to be me or a wall or maybe Ms. H. who was still there with us.  She saw it coming and tried to stop him, but was unsuccessful. After ward, he quickly changed his thoughts and now it was a different anger.  Hitting was wrong, but he still needed to release all the intense emotions within and he began causing more self injury, punching his nose to bleed, his head, his chest. He even picked up a piece of ceramic and looking at me he threatened to cut himself.  Luckily, he is unfamiliar with cutting that he held the rounded side to his skin, then threw the piece when it didn't work. He stared at me, saw my sadness, crying. It wasn't pain from the punch but pain from the heart knowing I could not save him. Nothing I would say was going to erase his anger. He came over to me and placed his arms around me as I directed him to sit on the sofa.  I sat across him on the coffee table, trying my best to calm him.  He cried, I cried. He apologized and so did I.  How can I explain what is happening to him? He can't even explain it to me either. He hurts and it's so deep that it scares us both. I know that the actions are not how he expresses himself but rather the results of not being able to express himself.

Puppy sat across from me and apologized for all that he had done. In his eyes I saw a lost and confused little boy who wanted so badly to be happy, and to make me happy.  He listened and was able to calm down, hugged me and I had my son back. 

I went back and forth with the decision to write this post as detailed as it is, and decided that not enough people understand autism and if I don't tell our story, I'm not being an advocate for my son.  He can't speak about what happens to him because his disability holds him back and prevents him to tell his side of the story. I've even seen him erase episodes of meltdowns, as if it was another person and not him.  I actually pray he doesn't have memory of his meltdowns because they are horrible and painful. Everyone needs a second chance, and Puppy needs that chance, too.