Awareness, I think lots of people are aware now but are they accepting?
Think most people are aware of Z’s autism. I’d like to think they accept it too. I also think that sometimes people think I’m just playing the Z has autism card to get out of doing something.
Z is different to children his age, not going to lie , but bet he’s most probably more knowledgeable too!
To outsiders you’ll look at Z and see a small child. That small child who is happy doing what he’s doing. Add say a new place for a party, and he maybe ok. He may not. He may be ok for a little while, but he don’t tend to come around like other children. He may last thirty minutes and then he’ll need to go. Out of the first door he sees. He may try and squeeze under a chair, or may try and hide in my face when he wants picking up.
At the moment, as an outsider you’ve just seen a small child wanting to leave a room. Ok I’ll keep him here a little longer, it’s not going to hurt. Then something like a child crying would set him off. He can’t really handle the crying noise. Sensory overload maybe? Or maybe he doesn’t like it. But that’s ok because when the other child has stopped crying Z is fine. I can keep him a little longer.
Now I have a small child who wants to leave, has been pushed by a crying child, then something else may happen. Someone could open a packet of crisps he don’t like the smell of, he maybe able to hear every crunch that other person is making whilst eating those crisps. The outsider don’t know he can smell them maybe or even hear how much a noisy eater they are, but we’ve gone back into trying to get out a door or trying to get under a chair. I don’t know if Z can smell these things or hear the crunching.
But it’s ok, don’t go yet, because in a bit we’ll be singing ‘happy birthday’. Now we have lots of people close together, personal space anyone?!
We have the crying child, we have the noisy eater, we have lots of people trying to sing, and if you listen really carefully you can hear the light buzz above you, whilst flickering every so often. Or the fire alarm sensor flashing, with people moving, still in very close proximity to you. No wonder Z wants to leave!
Imagine that being you. I know how I used to feel being in a crowded nightclub, people smelling, flashing lights and loud music. I hated it. Or imagine being put in a car, blindfolded, boom boom boom music and not knowing where your going, I’d also hate that!
That’s when the meltdown could happen. When he can’t do anything else, he can’t say to me mam lets go, I don’t like the crying child, or that person eating is really loud, or the flashing is making my eyes hurt.
Taking him out of that situation may just ‘stop’ it, ok, I’ve learnt it doesn’t stop it, more than likely puts it off until the next thing upsets him.
I can’t stop a meltdown, he will throw himself on the floor, he will scream, he will cry, he will try and hit out or try to bite. These can be little ones. I sometimes think Little ones are better than a big one as the little ones are little! After a big one he’ll just sleep.
At the moment it’s ok, he’s a small child. What happens when he grows a little more?
When we go shopping now, I get looks of a spoilt child when I give him a drink, when I open whatever is in the trolley to give him to eat because a child has screamed somewhere else in the store, thus setting Z off.
As Z’s mother I have to look, I have to try and work out what’s set him off, what will set him off and how I can control any of it. If there’s a way to control something we can but try. I have to watch out for this small child who will become an adult. I have to take him places now, I can’t keep him locked up. Away from the world. If I can help him learn to cope with certain things now surely that’s Got to be better than not? If we go someplace and only lasted ten minutes, that’s ten minutes of trying something new, next time it may well be twenty minutes who can tell.
Hopefully, with the autism awareness month by the time Z is older, people won’t so much be aware they’ll be more accepting too. So maybe it’ll come a point I could take Z shopping at a quiet time, where he won’t be judged for being a naughty child, or a spoilt brat.
Or by the time Z is older there’ll be a certain quiet time he can do his shopping. What I have to think of is not only now, but also the future. Children with autism grow up to be adults and guess what, that autism stays with them, it doesn’t disappear because people are aware of it.
So here’s to this April, the first year I’ll be joining in with autism awareness, and I’m guessing it’s not going to be my last year.