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.