I have always been open about our journey with autism. I will always be honest about what we’re facing. What happened last night, I never expected, at least not for five or six more years. E-man came downstairs about an hour after bedtime, completely hysterical, crying uncontrollably, and hyperventilating. He asked if he could tell me something in private, and then whispered in my ear he was having suicidal thoughts. M is sitting right next to me, and with E’s permission, I told him. It took us 40 minutes just to get him to calm his breathing down.
He is so aware the fact he is “different” and he has different needs than other kids. Apparently, there are a couple of boys in his classroom who persist in asking him questions about Jaws (the stuffed shark that goes to school with him frequently as his comfort item), his headphones, his going to see the speech therapist, school social worker, nurse, and school psych, why his hearing is so sensitive. He keeps saying no one understands what it’s like for him. I sat there (he was in M’s arms at this point), heart breaking, breathless myself, wondering “what the he@& do we do now?” We finally got him calmed down, and I took him up to his room. A conversation ensues about getting him the help he needs at school (Lord help us reach the IEP meeting date of 12/5), and reassurance we will do everything we must to get him what he needs.
I am thankful (but also sorry that they have this knowledge) for friends who have been in my shoes, and who at 1:30am their time will pick up the phone and talk with me, give me some direction, and pray with me. Tears poured, but God is good. I walked upstairs with words to use if needed, and a plan. After putting my book and water in my room, I walked back out to go to E’s room to check on him. As I walked out my door, I saw him perched on the short wall above our stairs. I got angry. I couldn’t help it. “Is this your plan then? Jump from somewhere high? Not a very good one, bud. You’re more likely to break something and/or hurt yourself badly than end it.” Brilliant, loving mother, brilliant. He got down when I told him to, and I took him into his room. He started apologizing. I made him promise me he would not hurt himself. I stayed with him until he was asleep. And then proceeded to toss and turn in my bed all night long. Every noise pulled me back from whatever level of dozing I was in at that moment. He slept soundly all night.
No school for him today. We made an emergency appointment with his psych. We are weaning off the anti-anxiety med he’s been on for a couple of months. We will go from there. We’re waiting to hear back from his therapist, and have some new plans, new boundaries in place.
My gut tells me he doesn’t really plan to end his life. Of course, we did and will always take his words seriously. I do believe he is in a dark place, he’s sad, he wants the pain and hurt to end. But I don’t think he actually would do anything to hurt himself. He never has to this point. He’s not a picker, a cutter, a hair-puller or anything. He bites his nails, but that’s an anxiety thing, not a “hurt myself” thing. I explained to him we will always, always take his words at face value. We will always respond to them as we need to, and do what we must to get him and keep him safe, even if that means calling an ambulance. He gets it. He’s an extremely smart boy. I told him there are new rules about what he reads, watches, plays. There are new boundaries until I believe he is in a better state of mind.
I do worry about putting this out there. My concern is that coaches, teachers, friends will not want to take on the responsibility of him knowing this has happened. I can’t promise he will never say the words again. He still has the right to his life. But we know other people must make their choices. I would never, ever send him into the hands of someone else if I didn’t think it was safe to do so. And again, I have always been honest about our journey. That doesn’t stop here. Hopefully, I can make some sense about it by writing about it. And hopefully our story will help someone else at some point.