Stress is something I handle well, in general. Part of it is because I have been hardwired to do so – since my earliest years, before learned behaviors were acquired, I took on challenges and handled them. There are stories… Oh, my, yes.
But mostly, it’s because I rely on Power outside myself. I have learned not to wait until I am at the end of my rope to reach for the Divine Hand, because, really, it’s always there. Why ignore the support of the One who loves me above all others when it is freely offered? I am grateful, always, for the Lord’s constant upholding.
Especially lately. 🙂
Being the mom of an autistic child is a unique experience for each parent. For this parent, it’s been a bit of a strain, of late. My younger son has acquired a seriously aggressive streak. We are seeing professionals, we are bolstering with all that we can, but when someone is on the Spectrum as a high-functioning child – who happens to be physically strong beyond the norm for his age (as has always been the case, since the moment he was born) lacks certain social comprehensions, there is little that will motivate him extrinsically.
People who have worked with autistic students of all ages for many, many years marvel at how very contrary – how stubborn – my son is. Rewards? He eschews them. Penalities? He generally doesn’t care about them. Things that will motivate most children in one way or another affect him not at all except to make him angrier.
And he lacks a buffer, in his head. The buffer that tells most neurotypical people that the action one is about to engage in is unwise. The phrase “zero to sixty” could have been crafted with my son in mind.
This means that I am connected to my phone and email. I pray. I do my utmost to divert and explain as I can. And I seek to find ways to help him understand WHY his will cannot be the sole factor in what has to be done at school.
Because, really, 99.9% of the adverse behaviors occur away from me. Beyond where my eyes would catch the first hint of trouble. Beyond the reach of my hand. Beyond the sounds I would offer in early-deterrence.
At home, my son is a delight. He has excellent manners, cleans up after himself, does the tasks set for him with a minimum of fuss. He is funny, he tells jokes, gets the jokes we tell, and engages all of us in his own forms of play. (We rotate, the rest of us. It gives us each a break, as needed.)
Still, I know that the boy I know here is not the boy that has been at school most of the time the last few months. I know because I am at his school every day. I know all the support staff. We see each other often. I am on a first name basis with many. *smile* I have to be.
Is my hair more gray now than it was a few months ago? I suspect so. Because stress can do that, I understand. Am I tired? Yes, yes I am. Because even though I engage in as many positive outlets as I am able, even though I rely on God every day to bring us through again, I am still in an untenable position that draws a lot from me. Being the one who knows she has the most immediate influence with her son, but unable to provide it when he needs it most. Knowing that he has to learn what he can only learn at school – interpersonal functioning with people not his family – and having to let him learn it.
If he will.
Because he is the most stubborn child many of his current teachers and aides will meet for many years.
I am thankful I’ve always been a stubborn person myself. I’ve been hardwired this way, as I said before. My life has prepared me to be the mother I need to be for my son. For both my sons.
“I will always be more stubborn than you,” I told the younger fellow last week. “I will always be smarter. I will always be stronger. You will not win, here.”
But he will, in the end. He will win and learn and become the man I know he was born to be, if I can just tough it out and be the mom I have to be. I’m not doing it alone.
So, I take a deep breath this morning, have a second cup of coffee, and engage in some quiet time before his day begins. This is a new week brim-full of possibilities.
And I can smile about it. 🙂
Thanks for reading.