Trapped by a lifestyle…
I’d written an entirely different blog post that I’d intended to post this evening… but then Boy chucked an almighty tantrum that left both myself and partner in tears.
Boy only spends 28.5% of his time with me. This is broken into chunks here and there, which means any changes I attempt to make on his routines or habits doesn’t have the slightest impact. A typical trait of autism is routine, and once one is set, it’s very difficult to adjust it or correct issues. Similar applies to behaviour. To ease understanding, we’ll lump all this together under lifestyle.
The issue is thusly: the lifestyle he’s become accustomed to whilst not with me isn’t beneficial to his development. It does very little to encourage any active development, and this means when I attempt to do so I’m met with strong stubborn resistance. An 8 year old can be as stubborn as a mountain refusing to move because a bear is leaning on it. An autistic 8 year old adopts different tactics, akin to holding a machine gun against your temple whilst staring you coldly in the eyes and stating calmly and rationally ‘I don’t want this to change’. Except Boy can’t do rational. S’not his fault, he just can’t.
Today partner and I attempted to correct a lifestyle issue that’s been bugging us for months and gotten steadily worse, to the point that he now completely refuses to come out of his room and come down stairs. This is because he’s permitted to do so back at home, and spends 95% of his time there in complete self-enforced isolation. Generally on Friday evenings when he gets out of the taxi he’s happy to head straight for the living room and spend a few hours on the sofa with me, but Saturday morning? No chance.
This afternoon I managed to coax him downstairs with comparative ease. This succeeded in lulling me into a false sense of security regarding how the afternoon would proceed. As soon as his bum hit the sofa, the tantrum began, and we could tell it was going to be a big one. So, what does your average parent do when rationalism isn’t an option?
We tried everything… Distractionary tactics… The good old ‘don’t pay him any attention, that’s what he wants’… Coaxing with food… Various games… IPad… Bits of string. Boy simply pulled out his machine gun. He descended into self-harm, screaming ever louder and hitting himself repeatedly, unrestrainable. This leaves one in no position to argue. After an hour of both myself and partner trying everything we know, we gave up. Both physically and emotionally drained. His own way gotten, back up to his room he trotted to sit on his bed, thumb in mouth, staring out of the window.
We’ve reached an impass. We cannot make any progress. When we try, it results in Boy feeling less and less comfortable here, in this house and with us. All we can now do is concentrate on having an enjoyable time together, and if the only way for that to happen is for me to spend the entire day in his room with him, then that’s what I’ll have to do, as that’s the way it happens for Boy the other 71.5% of the time when he’s not here, and that’s become a part of his daily lifestyle routine. 28.5% is not enough time to change that.
I’m heartbroken. I’ve failed him.
We both feel useless.
Happy New Year.