It’s apparently been Little Man’s week for stuff. We had his conference at school Monday, and yesterday we went to his well-child check-up. First up, super huge props to the kid – he gained 10 pounds in one year!!!! HUGE sigh of relief from me and his pediatrician. We’ve been watching his weight for about four years now. He spent over a year hardly eating at all. His food choices were so few. He looked horrible. We were in the doctor’s office every other month for weight checks. We tried everything. But Woooohooo – he seems to have turned the corner from that. I don’t think I could go through it again.
Anyways, he is 12 now, getting close to 13. At our pediatrician’s office, the kids start filling out their own questionnaires at 12. Would you believe his questionnaire was longer than the one I had to complete? Seriously. Would you also believe our doctor actually takes the time to read our answers? Have I mentioned before how much I adore this woman? As part of the physical, she asks some questions not on the forms. I shouldn’t be surprised – I have been through this twice before. But then she asked him if he’s ever gotten so stressed or anxious he didn’t want to live anymore. I sucked in my breath.
I won’t ever, ever forget that night he came downstairs in emotional shambles, crying, so desperate, telling us this was too hard and he didn’t want to be alive anymore. I’ve been scarred by many things in my life. My nine year old telling me he wanted to kill himself – you don’t come back from that. I felt the worst failure in that moment. I couldn’t protect my baby from the world, didn’t know if I could even protect him from himself. That was one of the worst nights of my life.
He was honest with the doctor – he told her about that night. He also told her he’d never again reached that point. He does still internalize stuff. We do know that. I can see when he’s getting extremely anxious and/or stressed. I can see when everything is getting to him. I can’t always help him – he can’t always express what’s bothering him, what’s stressing him out, what has him depressed or upset. I just let him know I’m there, try to help him work through it. That’s one of the super-sucky parts of autism – he often can’t articulate what’s going on inside, and then he reaches boiling-point.
I do know this with his response – he can and has use those words to escape a situation. We figured as much – he’s a smart cookie – but he confirmed it yesterday. He will say those dreaded words to get out of something, some place, away from something. He knows it’s a push-button. He knows we will take his words seriously. We’ve talked about crying wolf, but I’m battle-scarred and terrified. What is one time he isn’t crying wolf, and we treat him as if he is?
I’m happy to say I’m not alone in taking care of him. He does have numerous professionals in his life, including our pediatrician. I’m thankful he was honest with her when she asked that question. It starts the conversation, and keeps it going. He is learning to advocate for himself, to ask for help when he needs it. Pray God that keeps us from ever having a repeat of that night.