Breaks in routine, even good breaks such as those for holidays, can cause complete chaos with Little Man. Last week was no exception. He gets excited, but he also goes completely sideways.
We went to my parents’ house in Arizona for Thanksgiving. He loves going there, loves being there. But boy howdy was he high maintenance last week. I felt I was spending much of my time hyper-sensitive to his every action, every word. He was so completely up and down. Food choices diminished to basically Lucky Charms, goldfish, bacon, and bread. What did he eat when we sat down to the Thanksgiving table? Five rolls. That’s it. Nothing else. Oh, wait, he may have had some sparkling cider.
I had a long talk with my mom one night. I told her I get why studies show parents of autistic kids can suffer the same stress as soldiers in battle. I never know how he’s going to respond when I say anything to him, or tell/ask him to do something. He may be totally compliant, respectful, nice. Or he could be a complete jerk, yelling, being rude, flipping out. There’s very little middle ground. I don’t know how he’s going to be when he wakes up in the morning, when I drop him off at school, when I pick him up in the afternoon. I live on the edge, waiting, waiting for him to freak out and lose it. My phone rings, showing the school’s number on caller i.d., and I twitch. My email pings with a message from his SAI, and I groan.
When we are together 24/7 as we were last week, the stress levels peak. I did take myself off for a run one morning, a walk with mom another morning, and mom and I did go to lunch by ourselves on Friday. I know I need that time to refuel and be ready to tackle autistic parenting once again.
He did have some really great moments last week. I took the kids for their Christmas portraits. He was a champ, although by the time we were done, he was tapped out. But he did it, and without his usual mid-session meltdown. We went to see Mockingjay on Wednesday. He only left the theater once, as opposed to his usual five or six times. He endured meals out with little complaint. He slept in his own bed all night, every night we were there. He didn’t ask but once on the way there, and twice on the way home, how much longer the drive was. Those are all big wins, so I’ll take it.
Three weeks until Christmas break. I look forward to it, and dread it all at the same time.