I got one of those phone calls yesterday that I don’t like to receive. It was Barb, from Paradigm, trying to tell me about an incident with Aaron. It was hard to hear her, though, because she put it on speaker and I could hear Aaron in the background. He was yelling as he tried to explain his story, and he was crying, and no one had to tell me that he had just had a meltdown. My heart sank. It’s been awhile since we’ve seen this with Aaron. I felt drained when I got off the phone, and I wasn’t even there when Aaron lost it. It’s just very discouraging to feel like things are going along so well, and then BAM, he hits that wall again.
In his frustration, he broke his watch and he broke his brand new two day old glasses. This is very typical of Aaron when he gets that upset. He will break something that’s important to him, and then afterwards he’s just eaten up with remorse. The remorse comes from all of his behaviors when he loses his temper, but he knows that breaking things comes with repercussions. He won’t get a new watch right away. He didn’t know if his new glasses could be fixed.
The repercussions with people’s hearts is an area that he is not quiet adept at understanding. He’s doing better with empathy as he’s gotten older, but he is usually very narcissistic and only thinks of himself when he is in a rage. I guess many of us are that way when our emotions take control, but Aaron is often that way even when he is even keeled. Thinking of others and what they are feeling has been long in coming for Aaron’s autistic mind. He’s getting there, very slowly, sometimes more than others. For instance, not long ago he found out that Andrea had a migraine. The day that she and I were talking on the phone and she mentioned it, Aaron was frustrated that our phone call was taking my time away from him. I chided him when I got off the phone about how uncaring he seemed. The next day when she called, he said to me, “Tell Andrea I cared for her migraine!” He was very pleased with himself that he cared, because even he knows how hard it is for him to feel that emotion, and because he felt guilty that he had not felt it at first for his sister.
He came home yesterday, face and eyes all red from crying. He told me what had happened, so we discussed it as much as I felt that he could handle. He lets me know when he has had enough. Barb and I talked privately when Aaron was up in his room, and Melinda and I texted. I felt like I had a good grasp of what had happened, although part of it was still fuzzy. That’s why I tried to talk to Aaron again after Wheel of Fortune was over, but he did not want to talk about it further. The book was closed, in his mind.
I was almost asleep last night, at 11:30, when I heard our monitor on the nightstand beeping. It meant that Aaron had turned his unit off in his room. And it wasn’t long before our bedroom door opened and Aaron strode in to tell me that he had turned his monitor off and he had no intention of turning it back on. There!
“Oh boy,” I thought. “Here we go.”
Aaron has these residual effects from his behaviors…..effects that show up hours after the incident is over and hours after we have talked about it. I followed him to his room, noticing his agitation. He turned and told me that I was mean, that Dad was nicer, etc., etc. I knew that my second conversation with Aaron was the cause of this, but I couldn’t take it back. He thought I didn’t believe his version of the story….that I would make him leave Paradigm……and on and on. And he assured me once again that he was NOT turning on his monitor. That was the biggest sign of his rebellion that he could come up with at the moment.
I left his room frustrated, and Aaron was frustrated, and the monitor stayed off all night. This morning, I left Aaron alone when he got up. Even when he stood staring at me silently, I did not speak to him. I poured his coffee and carried it upstairs. I got myself ready and I opened my bedroom door, and finally he walked in and told me that he was not going to Paradigm today. I knew that was coming, so I asked him if he would go on Monday and he gave an exuberant yes.
So many of my decisions at these times are uncertain. Is it right to not make him go today to his group? Do I still get him his Friday goody bag? Was this outburst because of his new seizure drug….the one that can cause anger? Do I take him off this drug? Or do I wait awhile longer to give it more time?
Well, I didn’t make Aaron go to Paradigm. I know this is his typical response to such stressful situations, and I know that he does need time to emotionally recover and to sort it all out in his head. His big, impulsive hug for me later showed me how thankful he was that I let him have some time and space today. I still don’t know about the new seizure drug and what to do there, but I think I’ll give it some more time. I think. I did not get him his Friday goody bag. He hasn’t even asked about it because he knows that he really messed up. My mother heart wants to take care of him…..to blame the autism….to quote the professionals about his emotional deficits. But I know he also needs consequences, and so the goody bag will not happen today.
I did take his glasses to the optometry shop. “Wow!” the technician said. “He sure did a number on them.” I didn’t have Aaron with me because I wanted to explain what had happened, but not in front of Aaron.
“Yes,” I agreed. And I wanted to add, “You should see the number he’s done on my heart, and on the hearts of others.” But of course I didn’t say that.
By some miracle, the young man brought Aaron’s glasses back to me later, all fixed and ready for Aaron to wear again. I wish it would be as easy to fix the situation of yesterday, but that will take more time.
Later, Aaron and I took Jackson for a walk around our neighborhood circle. It’s a beautiful day, perfect for a walk. When we got home, Aaron quickly grabbed his mulch bucket and situated himself out in the flower bed for some mulch time. He stayed there for nearly an hour, relaxing and sorting out his thoughts with each little piece of mulch that he broke. It’s time that he needed…..quiet, peaceful, reflective time for him.
Wouldn’t it be wonderful if mulch would cure autism? Or if mulch time would give me all the patience and wisdom that I need? I would say, “Scoot over, Aaron! Make room for me! Will you share your bucket?”
I know every parent of autistic children can understand how helpless I sometimes feel. How embarrassed at my son’s behavior. How frustrated and then sad at his response.
Then I think of Barb, who loves Aaron and who said, “Tomorrow’s a new day. We’ll just put this behind us and go forward.”
And Melinda, who also loves Aaron, and who said, “Aaron informed me that I am NOT his sweetie poo anymore! Well, he is still my sweetie poo.”
That makes me smile, and it makes me thankful for those that work with Aaron and love him even on the bad days.
We will, and we do, move forward. Today Aaron said, “Mom, I’ll turn my monitor on tonight.” It’s his way of telling me that he’s better now, and that he is ok with me…..mean old Mom of last night.
Yep, it’s a new day and we will go forward. And I just hope Aaron knows how many people cared for him when he messed up.
He’s still our sweetie poo!