After our rough day today I figured I would share what a day in the life of Autism is like in our home for our sweet little boy Braddoc.
Today was a hard day on Braddoc.
Autism and stores, especially grocery stores, are not great combos when it comes to Braddoc.
You have smells coming from the foods. Noise is coming from all the carts, the freezers, the people, and the loud speakers. There are LOTS of colors and LOTS of things to see.
All these things are enough to kick Braddoc’s sensory levels into high gear.
The poor guy has things coming at him from all directions and he does not know how to deal with them. He can’t put them in compartments in his brain and deal with them as they come.
He hears more things then we can, sees more things and smells more things and its all just too much for him.
I try not to take him with me every time but some times I have no other choice.
I have found that if we can get something in his hands within the first minute or so that he has something to focus on and block out all the other sensory things going on around him. This usually works really well when he is alone with me. I talk to him and distract him and we have fun. But when his brothers are with us they touch him, and yell at him, and hit him, and try to mess with him and be silly, like boys do. All of that together makes it really hard for him.
Today he picked out a box of cereal and sat in the cart and just looked at it for a good 10 minutes. He was very deep in thought and it was very sweet to watch.
But then all “crap hit the fans” so to speak.
Landon started touching his foot.
Tayton kept saying “Beibers” over and over again.
Other peoples carts kept hitting ours.
I could tell Braddoc was trying so hard to not lose it and that the poor guy was so confused and overwhelmed. He starts to rock back and forth or squeeze himself or my arm/leg really tight.
I decided what things were NECESSARY for us to get through the night, grabbed that and then headed for the check out.
Everything was going good until the cashier messed up our order BIG time and over charged us by $40.
She was taking a long time to fix it and Braddoc lost all control of his emotions and started grabbing every thing and touching every thing.
He pulled out my wallet and dumped it all over the floor and when I bent down to pick it up he slapped me in the face. I talked to him about how that was not nice and hurt me. He started laughing and his eyes went blank and I could tell I had totally lost him. He was in defense mode and his mind was shutting down to “protect” itself.
While I was cleaning up my wallet he wedged himself between the check out lane and the cart and started grunting and fussing because he couldn’t get out. When I tried to help him he just starting hitting me and grunting louder.
When we finally got done with the check out (and after I had 4 different people stop and tell me I had my hands full….. um yes, thanks! I really needed you to point that out. It really helped me….) I got money out of my wallet for the bagger and was going to give a dollar to each boy for them to hold. Braddoc started crying BIG HUGE CROCODILE TEARS! and grunted when I tried to give him the dollar. He was jumping up and down and would not communicate with me.
I hurt for him watching him.
We got to the car and I got all the other kids in while he stood there and cried.
When I had gotten everyone in the car I went and held him (which is usually all I can do to calm him down) and he still cried, grabbed the car door and tried to get away from me. I just held him closer and rubbed his back (his favorite thing, and the best thing to calm him down).
He grunted at me and twisted his body so I could not touch his back.
He kicked me and hit me and spit at me.
He pushed at me and tried to get his feet between me and him.
He was gone, my little sweet boy was not there.
I started to rub his head, while he was hitting me, while we were sitting on the edge of the car in the parking lot and I started to cry.
I had tears streaming down my face because I was at a loss.
I did not know what to do for my sweet boy.
I was lost and I was hurt and I was overwhelmed and most of all I ached for him.
I wanted to know where my little boy was, because this little boy I was holding seemed like just a shell. I loved him even more. I cried because I didn’t even remotely know what he was going through, trapped in his own head.
This continued for about 20 minutes and then I said a silent prayer and felt like I needed to just leave him alone.
I sat him in the front seat and closed the door. I sat down in the back and let him do his thing.
He cried for a little bit longer and just sat there like a statue.
But after about 5 minutes you could slowly feel the spirit about him change.
He started to touch the door.
He turned his head and looked out the window.
He pushed the buttons on the radio.
He started to make noises.
And then he turned to me and smiled and said “Hi mommy, I love you!” and the tears started again.
I think this is the hardest part about Autism so far for me. Its the aching for him. The pain I feel at watching him fight it and wondering where my son is and if he is hurting inside.
I am getting to the point where I can tell first thing in the morning whether Braddoc is going to have a good day or a hard day and so its easier to prepare.
Today I loved him even more, but I also needed a break from him even more.
He exhausts me!
He tests my patience!
He makes me question everything I do!
And he loves me more then I could ever imagine a little boy loving his mother.
And I love him more for it too.
I love him for the battle that he has to fight every day.
I love him for the choice spirit that he is.
I love that he is my son and I am his mom.
I don’t know why Heavenly Father thought he or I needed this trial.
Some day’s I don’t think I am the mom for it, but every day I am proven wrong and we make it through another hard day.
Some days I want to run away from all the heart ache I can feel as a mother, hurting for my kids.
And some days I can’t imagine a more perfect life.
My brother with Braddoc
Braddoc is one of the most loving, sweetest boys I know. He loves to give hugs and kisses and tell you how awesome you are.