There is an escalation mode.  It all starts with screaming.  Not necessarily a meltdown.  Often it is.  Sometimes, it is screeching, loud laughter which culminates in a peak of high-pitched yell for variety.

Not enough?  Let’s add in a helping of frustration here and there.  Violently striking out by smacking at toys with fists and kicking things.  Throwing things across the room is always a good addition for a full trifecta.   That’s a good ticket to a time out.

As an added bonus, let’s throw in a sore throat (Gee – do you think? From all the yelling?) and some constipation coupled with refusal to consume anything that might ease that problem.  That’s always good for a huge tummy ache.  Let’s throw in some worry for a possible physical problem.

The next hour, he’s singing. He’s dancing.  Playing quietly by himself.  Impressing me by going to the bathroom on his own without me knowing until I hear the toilet flush!  He comes out with his shirt caught in his pants, having pulled the pants back up with the undies all bunched up outside the shirt and pants.  Quite a talent.

A couple minutes later – again, he begins to sob.  Not a loud crying but a soft, whiny tear-filled sob.  I’m thinking he might be going through another growth spurt.

Sometimes, he’s simply acting like any neurotypical kid.  If he’s hungry, he’s cranky.  If he’s constipated and has a tummy ache, he may cry.  The differences are greater.  First, he can’t communicate that he is hungry.  He will simply act out.  Second, if it’s a tummy ache, again, he can’t tell me and I’m never sure how bad it is by his behavior.  His behavior can be worthy of an Academy Award at times. So, I have to decide whether he is faking or whether I need to pack him up and take him to the doctor

Sometimes, I can figure out what is going on.  Sometimes I have no idea what is setting him off and it is much later that I figure it out.  So, here I am.  Screaming, sobbing, yelling son who has yanked on every nerve fiber in my being.

I’m like a rat in a maze that has touched the wrong electrode too many times.  My eye is a little twitchy.  My hair is a little battle worn from either standing on end (okay it just feels that way) and being mussed up when I scratch my head in wonderment as to what the “antecedent” was.  I stay on edge because I don’t know if the next verbal exchange between my son and I will result in a full force meltdown or laughter.  Or whether the laughter will turn to its own meltdown.  Slowly, the trigger, whatever it was, recedes, he tires out or it is just over.

Quiet rules again.

All except that little buzz that remains, charging my nervous system.  That too, flatlines when I look at his sweet, sleeping face.

Love blankets the fray, blurs the memory and relaxes the nerves.  Thank goodness, he’s so cute.  I can start over again tomorrow.


About solodialogue

I'm a lawyer and the mom of a 6 year old boy with autism. I work part time and spend the rest driving here and there and everywhere for my son's various therapies. Instead of trying cases, I now play Pac-man and watch SpongeBob. I wear old sweaters and jeans and always, always flat shoes to run after my son. Yeah, it's different but I wouldn't change it for anything. The love of my child is the most powerful, beautiful and rewarding aspect of my life.
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12 Responses to Eggshells.

  1. autismangel says:

    I get this life ~ I say it often how we walk on ‘eggshells’ if you crush one it just sets something off and you just cringe b/c you know its coming. Few understand this.

    • solodialogue says:

      I completely get it, Shelly. It’s a nerve-wracking feeling. We are always on a heightened sense of alert that most people don’t understand. On the flip side, we have children who are beautiful in their differences in many ways, also difficult for others to understand.

  2. YES! That’s it!!!! That is EXACTLY where I have been for the past week and a half!!

    I am seriously almost in tears after reading this, Karen. I know you get it. I wish you didn’t. I want to give you and T a big hug. Why do we have to live on opposite sides of the country?! (looks for toys to smash in frustration)

  3. Teresa says:

    Ah the challenges…they are ours… As the parent we want so much to stop the pain but what causes it? Is our child coming down with an illness? Does he have a food intolerance? Is he allergic to the dog? Is it the humming sound from the TV, the fluorescent light, or the static from the radio? Is the meltdown related to autism or is it related to something completely different? And how are we going to figure it out???
    Some days all we can do is hug our child and pray for continued patience while we hope for a fresh start with a new day.

    • solodialogue says:

      So true, Teresa and you say it so well. All these things run through our minds, especially the part about how are we going to figure it out. Hugging and prayer with a little sleep is a good combo though.

  4. Oh yes…I know this feeling all too well. I’m starting to wonder if I’m adapting myself too much to him though. Like the days that I just know anything is going to set him off but I really need to go do errands but I end up staying home all day instead. Sometimes I think it’s really worth it that I don’t have to deal with a full-out tantrum that I KNOW would happen….but, other times I wonder if he just knows how to play me 😉

    • Heather — I feel this one too! You think you’re going along fine… I mean the little one was able to complete the exact. same. task. just ten minutes ago, right? Now it’s causing an uber-meltdown — is it really something going haywire or are they just testing whether they can get you to do it for them!

  5. Yes- life in the trenches. Keep on trooping soldier. 🙂

  6. solodialogue says:

    Ma’am, yes ma’am! 😉

  7. eof737 says:

    Wow! I don’t know what to say but hang in there and bravo to you for not disintegrating. You are awesome and so is Tootles. 🙂

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