Most of the time I feel isolated and shunned from society. When Kyle has a meltdown in public my anxiety goes through the roof. I can handle the meltdowns at home, at school and when he has them with his therapists...everywhere else, not so much.
Picture this...you're in a room with a bunch of people, not really paying attention to anything in particular, then all of a sudden you see a child (one that is 'old enough' not to tantrum) on the floor, screaming that he was 'thrown' on the floor. Obviously this would attract the attention of anyone in a five mile radius (sometimes it feels as if he is that loud). I am surprised that the police haven't been called. I wouldn't blame them. If I was a bystander, I can only imagine what conlcusions I would jump to if I didn't know what I know by being in the situation.
He's had these exact meltdowns at gymnastics, at school, in the grocery store, in front of both of his therapists, sports, home. I think we've dealt with them pretty much everywhere.
Surprisingly I still have hair left, and a little of my sanity. How? I need to be strong for him. So what do I do when he has one of these episodes?? Well, first, if I can, I ignore them. Most of the time when he has a meltdown it is because he isn't getting what he wants, he is being forced to do something that he doesn't want to do, there has been a transition that is hard or he is seeking attention.
If I can't ignore it, I work through it with him staying very calm. It didn't take me long to figure out that if I meltdown during his meltdown it just makes it exponentially worse and I get exhausted afterwards. Everyone is upset and we get nowhere. Staying calm helps de-escalate the meltdown. It is the only thing proven to work. When the meltdown is over, it is more on a positive note and you are left with energy.
I don't worry about the meltdowns at school and at the therapist's office because they understand. I worry about the ones in the general public. I have no idea what their knowledge is regarding children and developmental issues. I have no idea whether they think I am a horrible mom. I can't jump in their minds and know what they think. I'd like to, then at least I'd know. I have a real hard time reading people too, which doesn't help.
So, most of the time I walk around on edge in public second guessing everything I do or say for fear of rejection. In the middle of meltdowns I'm rehearsing prewritten scripts explaining my child, waiting for someone to say something instead of asking if they can help.
I was approached today by another Mom, one who knows Kyle through sports and school. She wanted to let me know that she thinks that I am doing a great job with Kyle. She told me that she didn't think that she would be able to do it if it was her. She has two kids and she is a great mom. She is a hard worker, dedicated to her kids and community, I have always looked up to her and wondered how she did it. She says that she has told people that Kyle is lucky to have me as a mom. Many times I have wondered if I was a good mom because life isn't perfect. She reassured me that there are famous people with Asperger's (and named a couple) which really touched my heart. We talked for about an hour before I had to drop Caitlin off at school. I left there so happy.
When dropping Caitlin off at school I ran into a very close friend of the family who told me how great of a mom I am. Twice in one hour! I dropped Caitlin off and drove home, my eyes welled with tears. I can not express how great it was to hear these things and how great it made my day.
It's days like today that give me the added strength to go on, the reassurance that I am doing something right. It's days like today that make me feel accepted by society.