I always find it fascinating when I see something in one of my children that I recognise in myself.
I know that I am not naturally a decision maker, an optimist or display very good coping mechanisms, and it’s become apparent to me that I chose to shut down more often than fight when I’m overwhelmed.
This week I have had Harley home for 2 days and Lucas about to have his 6th consecutive day off in a row tomorrow. All due to sickness. Lucas had some blood tests earlier today because the Dr thinks he has either a respiratory infection or glandular fever (Mono).
And it’s interesting to me to watch how the boys have both responded differently to sickness and how their individual responses have affected me.
Harley (God bless him) makes sure that everyone around him knows that he’s sick, that he’s miserable and that he being sick is a major inconvenience to him. His anxiety goes through the roof with his OCD kicking it up a notch and the perseveration begins over whether or not he will end up vomiting.
I’ve often wondered if he is ever really as sick as he says he is or if it appears worse because he works himself up so much.
He calls out at 2 minute intervals that it’s not fair, that he’s too hot, too cold, thirsty, hungry, uncomfortable, bored etc etc etc.
Whereas conversely, I often don’t realise just how sick Lucas is because he just lays down quietly and withdraws into himself choosing the silent protest. Which sounds like the easier child to handle right?
Well, yes and no. Sure, it’s easier on my ears and my patience but the downside is like I said: I often don’t find out just how sick he is until much later than his brother who gives me a running commentary of his every ache and pain in minute details.
I have to do a lot of guesswork with Lucas and he shuts down so much that often he refuses food & water and I have to physically open his mouth to administer medication. He doesn’t seem to hear me or respond to his name when he’s shut down like this. So it’s not always practical!
Remember his birthday last year? Remember how he was hospitalised with paralysis in his legs? Remember how much he shut down then? Well I didn’t. DOH! You can refresh your memory by clicking >>HERE<<.
Sure, in the past few days he has had some great moments where the medication has perked him up briefly and there have been glimpses of my vivacious little fella but they have been sadly few and far between.
I think that autism definitely plays a huge part in how my boys respond during times of high anxiety or in sickness, but there is also a very definite personality/genetic makeup factor in there as well.
I realised that I have spent so much time over the last few days trying to get Harley to stop whining and trying to get Lucas to interact with me in some way, that I haven’t allowed them both to individually indulge in what it is that they each need.
Harley needs to hear me soothe him constantly, in the same way that he will often ask the same question repetitively even though he knows that the answer never changes.
He finds comfort in patterns, in routines and in consistency. I believe that he repeats the same phrases: It’s not fair, I’m too hot, I’m too cold, I’m thirsty, I’m hungry, I’m uncomfortable, I’m bored in what seems to be a bizarrely cathartic way!
And all I have been doing is sticking ear-plugs in my ears and shutting him out because *I* couldn’t cope with the constant jabber.
And this realisation has really shone a light on myself. I have realised that I am very much like Lucas when I’m overwhelmed.
I shut down both physically and emotionally and enter a state of self-preservation.
These are the times that I shy away from my blog, my emails, my Facebook, Twitter and all other types of cyber interaction and especially from those whom I know in real life lest they see through my carefully constructed façade!
I call it self-protection mode but deep down I know that it’s just avoidance
But here’s where my son and I differ greatly; When I shut down, it’s usually detrimental to me because I stop seeing reason and I block out those that are truly trying to help me, but when Lucas shuts down – he ALWAYS comes out the other side fitter, healthier and better off from the experience.
It’s like he needs to power off so that his body can fight the nasty bugs that have infiltrated his immune system. I really honestly think that he needs to do it so that he can protect himself.
From what? I’m not really sure but for now I’m going to put it down to just another mystery of the autistic mind that might one day be understood by NTs like me….or it may not.
Whatever the case may be – I’m going to keep doing what the Dr tells me and wait it out because I know that there’s a mischievous, sparkly little boy behind those glazed over dull eyes of his.
I just KNOW it