Meltdown

Today is Ben’s  eleventh birthday. I can’t believe he’s eleven. Time drags, but it also flies by. Like anyone else, we wanted to celebrate his birthday and give him a good day.

This year the plan was to go to younger daughter’s (Auntie) place and let him swim in the complex pool, then come home, relax then barbecue. That was the plan…

I woke up at 3am and found Ben and Zeus asleep in my bed. I didnt even hear them come in. He’s been waking me up in the wee hours for days and I’m very sleep deprived. Anyway, I tried to go back to sleep and dozed until 4:30am when the birthday boy decided it was time to get up. I tried to send him to his Mama but he refused, wanted Grandma.

That’s how my day started. The rest of the morning was the regular weekend chaos. No big issues. After much back and forth, it was decided that we would go to Auntie’s at 12:30pm, swim for 60-90 minutes, then come home for his afternoon meds and a rest before dinner. We wanted to keep him from getting too wound up.

We started getting ready and Mama couldn’t find his swim stuff. After 15 minutes of searching, I told her to just put him in shorts. He was getting upset, he wanted to go swimming. After getting him dressed she suddenly remembered where his stuff was, so she changed his clothes. (At eleven you’d think he could dress himself. You’d be about 25% correct) He’s finally dressed and telling us approximately every 10 seconds that he’s ready to go. After Mama texts back and forth with his godmother about Auntie’s address and the gate code, we finally walk out the door. And one of the tires is low.

Everyone gets in the car, seatbelts on, AC on high (97F, 36C on the dash readout) we head off to the gas station to put air in the tire and go to Auntie’s.

We get to Auntie’s, hugs, pats for Gigi the dog, spray sunscreen on everyone then head to the pool…where there is a sign advising the pool is temporarily closed for repairs. Ben sees the pool and wants to go swimming, why aren’t we going in the gate? Why aren’t we swimming? I thought it was over right there, but he sat on the bench and waited while Mama called godmother to see if we could all go to her parents house and use their pool. Whew! Saved!

So we walk back to the cars and continue our journey in search of a pool. We had trouble finding the house because for some reason the addresses go along normally until a point where they reset. We were looking for 1638 and we found 1640 and 1636 but no 1638. So we called and after much confusion drove until we saw godmother on the street. The house numbers reset to the 1600s after a cross street with zero change to the street name. No East or South or change from Street to Drive…just…reset. We tried to call Auntie to explain so she wouldn’t get lost, but no answer. Whatever, get Ben in the pool. Which we did, and Auntie’s found the house. Yay! Things are gonna be okay.

Ha. Haha Haha. Hahahahaha….

The swimming was fine. Everyone had fun. There was even two adorable dogs jumping into the water with the humans. We gave Ben time warnings when we were getting ready to leave, starting at a half hour, down to five minutes. He lagged behind, throwing toys in the water, normal Ben stuff.

Then on the way home he said he wanted to go to the store. Oh boy… “Go to the store” is one of the phrases he uses when a meltdown is imminent. We talked to him, tried to distract him, tried changing the music on the radio… our house is only about 15 minutes from Auntie’s and also godmother’s parents. 15 minutes was all it took.

We got home and he went Taz immediately. Straight through the house, pausing only long enough to take off his swim trunks, right out the back door to the back gate, naked and screaming “go to the store, NOW!” He had the gate halfway open when I got there with underwear. I pulled him back into the yard, got his underwear on and tried to calm him and get him away from the gate.

This is already running long, so I’ll spare you all the details. For the next hour his Mama and I tried to keep him in the house after he broke the gate. We were slapped, punched, kicked, had shoes, toys and other objects thrown at us. All while he screamed in our faces and generally lost it. He had an autistic meltdown. He was overstimulated, over tired or just over it. Whatever the reason, he no longer had control of himself.

I can objectively write about it now, after he’s asleep. Its difficult to be objective when a 5 foot tall, 110 pound person is screaming at you and hitting you… hurting you. Its difficult to not yell back. Its difficult to let yourself get hit and kicked rather than let Ben out the door where he could get seriously injured. Its difficult to know that leaving the house for something fun leads to this situation 9 times out of 10.

There’s already enough stigma that autistic people have to deal with. A lot of parents dont want to talk, or write, about these times. Its lonely when you feel like no one else could understand the reality of parenting a child with severe classic autism and the meltdowns that happen. I write about it because I’ve felt alone. I want other parents to know someone else DOES understand. I want people who dont have autism or a friend or loved one on the spectrum to know about the good, the bad and the isolation.

Not a great eleventh birthday for King Ben. We probably won’t try taking him out again for a while. We have new scratches and bruises.

We love an autistic child.

 

40 thoughts on “Meltdown

        1. It’s not anger per se. He’s like a bottle of soda that been shaken up…he just explodes. I hate to use age level functionality but he really is like a cranky toddler, except it’s not a tantrum. The difference being that we couldn’t stop it by giving in to whatever he’s yelling about.
          He didnt really want to go to the store. Its just something he says. I dont know if you’re familiar with “scripting”, but that what he’s doing when he says go to the store. Another way of looking at it is when you have an old, slow computer and it freezes up if you’re typing too fast or doing too much and it can’t keep up. Instead of freezing though, Ben explodes…like the soda.

          He goes to a special school that deals with autism and behavioral disorders. He gets all kinds of therapy, even equine therapy once a week. It’s a really great school.

          Liked by 1 person

          1. Thanks a lot for explaining it to me. I haven’t had a first hand experience with a kid with Autism but I have read about many. I hope it gets better with time. That it will be more manageable.

            Liked by 1 person

    1. You could do it if it was your child or grandchild. We do what we have to.❤
      It’s very difficult at times, but it could be worse. And has been.
      Thankfully I’ve “met” some wonderful, supportive people here on WP that cheer me up just by writing stuff. Thank you Paula.😻

      Liked by 1 person

  1. You have probably heard this before. You have heard others try to help and nothing seems to work.
    I’m sad for you and your family that Ben has been able to act out and throw these temper tantrums. My first reaction is to have a behavioralist out there immediately to keep this behavior from happening again.
    I’ve raised two boys. One with ADHD. One with Autism/Aspergers. I have not experienced what you have gone through so how can I have an opinion? How would I ever begin to understand the extent of your situation? I can’t. All I know is that you have to set a boundary around this somehow.

    I cannot bear to hear how he is hurting you. I wish I had the answer. I bet you have tried everything.

    He will continue to get bigger and stronger. You will have to take something away that he loves. Or for my older ADHD son, we had to only give him positive reinforcements like money, or huge candy bars or ice cream when he needed to change his behavior. One time we removed his door on his room cause he confronted my husband after Ken tried to defend me when he tried to hit me. We also used chores which were taped onto the fridge. When he did something bad, he had to pick a chore. He HATED chores.
    In any event, enough of my ranting. Parenting isn’t easy, nor is raising an autistic child/almost teen. and I’m not a grandmother yet, so I haven’t a clue as to what that is like.

    I can say a prayer that things calm down. I can wait for your posts and keep listening if that helps.

    You are a sweet person and I hope you can enjoy your Tuesday while Ben is at school.
    Teri

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you Teri! You do help, just by being supportive.
      Part of why I write about his destruction and meltdowns is to let people know how it is. Ben isn’t unusual for a child with severe classic autism. There’s a world of difference between classic or “low functioning” autism and Asperger’s. They have a lot of things in common but a lot different too.
      Ben has the same issues at school. They block him with mats. He’s in a place that is locked down. He can get outside, but not off the school grounds. They have wonderful specialists that work with the kids, teens and young adults (up to age 22) that attend this school.
      His meltdowns dont happen as frequently as they used to, he’s learning to self-regulate. He wouldn’t hit us if we weren’t blocking the doors and windows to keep him from running away. But just letting him go isn’t an option. We need to get better locks on the doors and repair the gate so it’s safe for him to go outside and blow off steam.
      Positive reinforcement is the only thing that works. When he gets to meltdown state he can’t hear us, he’s beyond rational thought.
      I do worry about the future and him getting bigger. All we can do is help him learn when its building and how to stop it from getting too far and try to keep us all safe until it blows out when it does get beyond his control.
      Thank you for always listening ❤💌🌻

      Liked by 1 person

  2. One more thing. In our area we have something called the CARE Parent Network. 925 313-0999. For years I called a lady named Linda, who has since retired. She always had ideas for me anytime we were in a crisis. She even cme to our home, came to Andrew’s graduation and was a great support line for us. Especially before IEP’S which was always the hardest for me.

    It might be worth seeing if they can refer you to anyone in your area that may be of help.
    Teri

    Liked by 1 person

      1. Get every penny out of them. We pay taxes.
        Regional ctr paid for babysitting every Friday night for many years. It helped a lot.
        CARE is different. But you should get ALL of the services. And the school sounds amazing

        Liked by 1 person

    1. The meltdowns are difficult and heartbreaking💔. He’s always embarrassed and seeks reassurance after. I’m sure it must feel horrible for him, and we spend hours wondering how and if we could’ve prevented it.
      Thankfully the meltdowns are fewer as he’s gotten older. Mostly he’s a happy, silly, charming little man.❤🌻

      Liked by 1 person

  3. This really resonated with me. First, I am sad that Ben had a meltdown on his birthday. So excited, so charged, sadly, so doomed. I was nervous for you when you couldn’t find a pool. I thought that was where the breaking point was going to be. I know for us, just changing the pool would have caused one. That is great he got some pool time in, but it is sad that he crashed and had a meltdown. In the bigger picture, I am glad you wrote about it. You are right, I steer away from talking about Declan’s meltdowns. Even Catelyn’s. They look different as they age than Ben’s, I am sure. I get a few punches and hair pulls but mostly death threats and mean words. Neither care who they do them in front of – and since, Catelyn especially, is so high functioning it’s mortifying and no one can hear any explanations I might try to give. It actually brings out very negative feelings from me towards my peers because I feel very alone and our family, misunderstood. It is here on WP that I have found my peeps. People that support, and even if they cannot relate, they LISTEN. I do take great care when I am telling a negative story – I have one to tell today (or tomorrow) – and I go into them in a way to respect my kids, but still tell our story. It’s tough, but telling the truth really is important to understand life in an autism household. Oh well. Hope Ben has a great day today and you get some time when the glorious yellow bus comes to take him to school!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I have often thought that in many ways it can be harder with HFA because it looks like a bratty, rude child having a tantrum. And the parenting gets called into question like “what a horrible parent. I’d never let my child speak to me that way”. The Judgey McJudgeypants put on their righteous hats and pontificate.

      I am beyond thankful to have found you, who truly gets it, and so many others who are just supportive.

      I’m sorry you have a similar story to tell. It’s just heartbreaking and hard. For everyone.
      Definitely looking forward to that glorious little yellow school bus. About an hour from now.💃🎉😴❤💌

      Liked by 1 person

    2. Everyone has a right to be heard and listened. It is difficult to talk about the negatives but I believe you can do it in a sensitive and respectable manner, which is something you and Robyn have been able to do so admirably ❤️

      Liked by 2 people

      1. Thank you my kookaburra friend! Social media can be scary, especially for non autistic parents writing about the difficult parts of raising an autistic child. WP is very supportive, but Twitter can get ugly. I dont go there much anymore.

        Liked by 1 person

        1. I feel that pressure too. I don’t agree with everything autistic people say (for eg. the post on suicide I posted recently). I’ve been thinking how best to respond to it without being too negative or critical of the author. I wish I could just ignore and pretend that I haven’t read it.

          Like

  4. Oh, Angie… I’m so sorry that things went awry on what should have been a nice day. I really hope you weren’t injured badly too. You’re poor body can’t take much more.
    So, did Ben go off on the little yellow school bus today? For your sake, I hope so… You need rest after yesterday’s debacle. 😴

    Liked by 1 person

              1. I’m so happy you slept heavily. You truly needed it.
                I just hung up with my Mom, she is home now. The storm stayed off shore, but did some damage in the town next to my sisters house. Stuart, FL., but everyone is fine, no damage to either one of their homes, and my mom is tuckered out from the anxiety over the last 4-5 days.
                Thank you so much again, for inquiring on how my mom is. I’m sincerely touched by you always asking. God Bless you!!! 😍 😘

                Liked by 1 person

  5. I haven’t got that kind of experience, so I can’t comment on that. I think there are quite a few people out there who talk about that sort of thing, but I couldn’t immediately point to to them, so that’s not very helpful! I don’t think it’s a bad thing to talk about the negative stuff. I think there is a danger that people do it to say ‘oh poor me, I’ve got to deal with this monster child’, but that’s not what comes across in your piece at all. I think if you do want to tell it all, the good and the bad, you have found the best way of doing it.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Well done Angie on writing about the dark side to autism. Suze and l were discussing this literally only yesterday, because of the dark side to Aspergers which played a hug part in my life for many years. The meltdown, the violent tempers, the mood swings, the self aggressive episodes. But people don’t want to read it, they don’t want to hear it, they stigmatise it – so well done.

    I have no words that will comfort you during a meltdown, except do as you are doing – Ben knows you are there. When l was his age and melting down my violence was met with violence, so he is lucky to have you even if he cannot voice that.

    Liked by 1 person

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