Autism Regression

The little boy is playing happily on the computer next to me.  Things are calm now.

Two hours ago, we were screaming at each other.  At the top of our lungs.  Really screaming.  Not just yelling.

I don’t feel like a good mom today.  And lately, my son has been an extra challenging child.

His math and reading skills have improved significantly.  He enjoys homework.  He is talking more, making better eye contact, and cooperating with rigid routines.

Even socially, we have seen major development from him.  He craves interaction and camaraderie from his peers.  He knows their names and he spontaneously greets them every morning when they arrive at school.

Progress.

But, behaviorally, things kind of suck right now.

The boy has become obsessive compulsive in ways we never knew possible.  And he wants us to do everything for him.  He demands that we do everything for him.

Our refusals, whether sugary sweet and thoroughly pleasant or a little snippier from exasperation and fatigue, they all land on him the same way.  He loses his mind.  He starts yelling.  His most frequently uttered sentence (and by uttered, I mean yelled) is “No saying no!!”  He shakes back and forth and he screws up his face in frustration and anger.

He’s also slapping and pushing and pulling and hitting again.  And today he grabbed my wrist, twisted my skin and drew blood with his sharp little fingernails.  That’s when I screamed too – first in pain and surprise and then again in anger.  And, I admit, twice more, just to get it out of me.  This has been a very stressful month.

Last night I went to my mom’s for a family dinner.  My older brother turns 51 this month, so mom made food and we all gathered to sing and eat cake.  I love my brother, but I probably shouldn’t have gone.  I was at the end of my emotional rope yesterday and it was a long drive, a big dinner, a frustrating conversation about a treadmill (don’t ask), and then a long drive home.

After exiting the freeway, I was so keyed up from the weekend and that final drive, that I had to stop at the local Trader Joe’s and walk two speedy laps around the parking lot to blow off steam before I went home.  I knew I couldn’t deal with my child without exercising first.  The troops selling Girl Scout Cookies in front of Henry’s Market looked at me with suspicious eyes when I whipped past them the second time.  Oh well.  Had to do it.

And then today.  I was okay today until I brought the boy home.  And then the screaming.  My throat hurts from my part.  I imagine his throat hurts too.  He was LOUD.

What kills me about this afternoon is the amazing good mood he was in when I picked him up from school.  He was laughing and skipping and so excited about everything he saw.  I should have known it would spiral out of control the minute we walked into the house.

But really, how AM I to know that?  I know my son so well and I still don’t know that.  I don’t know what will set him off.  Certainly, I have a long list of potentials in my head, things I avoid when possible, but I can’t predict it all and I grow weary trying to anticipate it.

This month, for example, after he uses the toilet, he wants one of us to take the lid and seat from his hand and lower it for him.  Even if he is upstairs and we are downstairs, he will scream at us to do this.  We don’t, but it makes him crazy.

And he wants us to carry him from the couch to the kitchen or from the kitchen to the stairs or the couch to the toilet or the toilet to the chair.  We say “no” and employ one of a dozen psychological tactics to get him to accept our answer, but he just gets madder.

He has to walk back and forth three or more times in the same spot before he can go forward and do something.  Today, he wanted a cup.  The cup was right in front of him in the pantry, two feet away, but he wanted me to get it.  I was across the room and I told him “no.”  Then I stood and watched in sadness and some disbelief as he tried to go forward to get it himself, but instead went in every direction but toward it.  He went sideways and backwards and he spun in circles, but he couldn’t get that cup.  It made us both crazy.  Yesterday he chose a cup from the same location with no problem at all.  I don’t know what was different about today.

And the snack in his hand? Pocky.  He couldn’t eat it anymore.  Once he came to the understanding that he couldn’t get the cup, he was no longer capable of holding the snack.  He crushed it, almost involuntarily, and he seemed miserably sad about it.  I told him to throw it away.  He did, but it was physically challenging for him.  And then, of course, he wanted me to take the trash can lid from his hand and lower it.  I didn’t.  More upset.

I am fatigued by writing about this.

I have to wrap this up.

If you made it this far, you are a good friend.

Maybe you could babysit for us some time.

Happy Monday.

♥♥

10 thoughts on “Autism Regression

  1. If I lived closer, I would babysit. . .Love you Becky. Sounds like a tough month indeed. You will survive. You’ll be exhausted and need a lot of love and caring along the way and a nap at the end, but you’ll make it.

    You’re a good mom, no a great mom!

  2. Oh, Becky…..I would be over every day if I could…I am in tears over your struggles and in awe over your bravery to wake every morning and face it again. You are doing everything right. I love you…

  3. Becky, it takes an enormous amount of courage to pour your heart out like this. You are human, and if other readers with struggles can take something positive away from your posts, you have made a difference. Don’t be too hard on yourself; you are a good mom.
    Best, Lisa

  4. Becky, I’ve written so many comments and erased them. So, here goes. You are the strongest woman I know. Your empathy has no bounds. Your daily life is never easily prescribed, and you persevere. It is harder than hard and yet you get through it. I love you so much.

  5. You know, from here in Sutton, MA, your son looks peaceful, quiet, smiling on the floor: Becky: are you sure you’re not making this up?

    How about this tactic: find something he craves: dessert, money?, privilege, etc. and when he asks you for something, tell him if he does it himself, he can get the carrot? just thinking…

    • Yes, I am making it up. NOT! Alan, you crack me up. I get your point about the carrot tactic. It’s definitely on the high rotation list for tantrum diffusers!

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