I lay there at 1:30am, listening to him kick and punch his bedroom wall (the same wall his room shares with our room), getting angry, frustrated, and sad. I just wanted to sleep! I knew getting up and going into his room was somehow giving in (for both of us), so I just started to pray that God would help me hold the line I knew I needed to hold, and that He would help me remain calm. Eventually, M got up and went into E’s room. That it was him, and not me, who managed E in that moment was a win for all of us – although I’m sure M probably didn’t quite see it that way at the time.
I know E is dealing with a bunch of anxieties right now. It’s a new school year, with a new teacher, in a new classroom, with a new set of classmates. We have a new routine that is somehow related to the old school routine, but is also different. He is the only one of the three still in elementary school. But I cannot climb inside his brain and pull these anxieties out. He is unable to verbalize them at any significant level. So we deal with sideways behaviors, and try to help him learn to verbalize his fears and anxieties rather than lash out.
I spend so much of my time trying to figure out what is going on inside his head. Many days, I feel I’ve been plunked down in some play in which everyone acts like I know them, and have been there all along, and yet I have no clue what the story is, what my lines are supposed to be, nor what is going on. I especially have no idea what is coming next. It’s like one of your worst nightmares in which you’ve not been to class the entire semester but have to show up and take the final.
I want to help him, but I usually can’t figure out where he’s coming from, what his thought process is to be able to do that. What works one day will not always work the next. A motivation one week is nothing to him the next week. He will suddenly no longer be concerned with a consequence that was just the end of the world to him the day before.
I look in his eyes and I see him desperately trying to work out the “normal” world. I painfully look on as he attempts to comply, conform, express. And my heart aches when he believes he’s failed, and when he does fail. I can almost touch the separation he feels – the wall between him and everyone else.
Please see beyond the wall. See the amazing boy he is. He is beautiful, he has a huge heart, his smile lights up the room. He has so many incredible gifts hidden behind that separation, that definition, that label. My mommy heart wants to get into his head and interpret, help, translate, make it all better. But I can’t. Instead, I lay there in the middle of the night, doing what I know must be done, praying God will somehow reach down and help us both through this process. It was another of those nights I wanted to kick autism to the curb, shove it out of our existence, and never ever hear from it again.