....but that's not saying much.
Yesterday was one huge meltdown. And it hurt. Physically, emotionally, spiritually....it hurt.
Abby - my daughter who is currently 6 - is on the autism spectrum. If you go by the "old school" DSM IV, she has Asperger's. And Sensory Processing Disorder (SPD). But if you go by the DSM V, the newest version of it, she has high-functioning autism.
To most people, this comes as a shock. And quite honestly, it shocked me, too. I mean, I guess I always knew something wasn't quite right but I never thought *autism*.
She was born at 30 weeks. I'm sure this has something to do with it. Although, maybe that's more of a reason for the SPD instead of the autism. 33 days in NICU will do that to a person, I guess.
She's always been incredibly super smart. She started reading at age 2. I wasn't sure what to make of that, other than I had a genius child! Of course! Doesn't every mother?! But that probably should have been my first tip off.
She started having some issues last year that made me think something was up. Nightmares 4-5 times a week. Never slept well. Took F-O-R-E-V-E-R for her to actually fall asleep and then she'd wake up a bazillion times a night.
She started having "fits" (that I later learned were autistic meltdowns) that were literally uncontrollable. By me, Robert, or Abby herself.
She started becoming violent with her little brother, Isaac. Although, again, she's always had a sort of "jealousy" towards him. But we all thought it was because she didn't like him nursing. Again. Probably should have been a tip off. She now hits, kicks, slaps, punches, bites, pinches and pushes him. For seamingly no real reason. She has a really hard time controlling her emotions - good or bad. She gets very angry over very little things. She also reacts to things in the most ridiculous ways! When she falls, it's as if the entire world fell on her leg. Instead of just a tiny scratch. Brushing her hair is my arch nemesis...which is why my child looks like she has ragamuffin hair 95% of the time. If she has something set in her mind but the reality doesn't go that way, oh heaven help us!
Living with this is so hard. And that seems so selfish to say. I'm sure that this is INSANELY hard for HER!!! How could it not be!? But as a mom who is desperately trying to do what's best for my girl, this is by far the hardest thing I've ever in my life encountered. Or had to deal with. Every day. With no real breaks.
We homeschool. There's no way I can - in good conscience - out my daughter who, at 6, is reading and comprehending on a 6th grade level yet has the emotional capacity of a 3 year old in a public school room. Forget the fact that I don't trust the government and HATE the public school system. That's beside the point here. I have a 6 year old who is really 12 and 3. All at the same time. Putting her in a room with other 6 year olds would be asking for behavioral problems galore! And I won't do it to her! Plus, I WANT to homeschool my kids. Both of them! I have the blessing of being able to do this! I wouldn't pass it up for the world.
But holy hell it's hard! Which brings me to yesterday. Geez. The meltdowns I watched yesterday were unreal. She actually bit ME for the first time. And HARD.
Let me back up and say that as a parent, I'm a yeller. Which I hate about myself but it's true. I'm a yeller. But I've been working really REALLY hard on not being a yeller. Back to yesterday.
She bit me hard and I kept my cool. I actually stayed calm and didn't yell. (One point for mom!) But it was quite difficult. We started a new routine where everytime she does something violent to Isaac (or anyone, for that matter - everything just seems to be directed at him), she sits down in time out for 7 minutes. When the timer goes off after 7 minutes, she can get up and continue with whatever she was doing. If, however, she gets violent again during that 7 minutes, the timer starts over. I had to start the timer over about 15 times yesterday during ONE meltdown. I was beginning to wear thin.
I don't want to relive all of yesterday right now. Mainly because it's just too painful for me. But I will say this: Trying to figure out what my daughter's needs are make these meltdowns almost necessary. She can't tell me with her words what she needs. She doesn't have the emotional capacity to figure it out and then verbalize it. The only thing she knows is MELTDOWN. And while it's hard, I'm grateful to have a child who can at least tell me in some way how she's feeling. No, I don't like meltdowns. In fact, I downright hate them! But there are so many other children on the spectrum and off who can't even communicate with their parents in this way.
And it's in thoughts like these that I'm desperately trying to find the Joy Through The Struggle.
Welcome to my world.