I realised yesterday that my perspective has shifted a lot in the past few years and my mother’s intuition has been fine-tuned a lot more than it has ever been in the past. And this new perspective has helped me to view an incident that occurred yesterday in a brand new light. In fact – I was able to turn the negative into a very big positive and it’s the little things like this that keep me motivated.
By now most of you would know that I am currently staying up at my Mum’s with the children as school doesn’t go back until the end of the month. There is a ten day festival going on up here at the moment which is great for families and gives us all something extra to do at very little cost.
The entire main street of town is closed off for about 4 blocks and the streets are lined with performers of all varieties. It runs day and night and does include a lot of loud music, huge crowds and a lot of different smells, sights and new experiences. (Which I’m sure is a sensory overload NIGHTMARE if you have autism).
So bearing that in mind, I have given the boys headphones and chewy toys and have tried to keep the exposure to the festival minimal and closely monitored, however yesterday – despite my best efforts, it came close to ending very badly indeed!
We went to church in the morning (If you know anything about Pentecostal churches is usually very loud, crowded and in your face), and then we met some friends for lunch. Afterwards we decided to go into town and go for a stroll down the street to check out the action. I watched the boys closely and they seemed to be doing wonderfully. I smiled to myself because a few years ago we wouldn’t have even have attempted to do all of those things in the one day let alone attempt an event like that!
I realised our progress and started to relax a little and enjoy myself. I stopped to listen to a few bands and chatted with strangers and just had a really great time. We walked another little distance when we passed a performer with a very loud microphone and a huge crowd of people gathered around clapping, dancing and watching.
I stopped with Mum to have a listen for a few minutes until I saw Harley freeze……he stopped dead in his tracks, clapped his hands over his ears and tears started rolling down his little face. He looked up at me with his eyes pleading and said: “Mummy, there is too much loud, too much people…I need to get out, I need to go home now”….
So I grabbed his hand and dragged him into the closest shop and sat him in a quiet corner on the floor wrapping myself around him while covering his ears. I held him tight and he eventually relaxed into me saying: “Thank you, thank you Mummy, you are the best Mummy ever”.
I sat there and went through my options in my head. Our car was up the other end of the street and we’d have to walk about 2 blocks to get back to it…..that wasn’t going to work…..I spoke to Mum and we decided that Ella and I would walk back to the car and I would drive as close as I could to this shop and pick up Harley, Lucas and Mum. It worked brilliantly and peace was restored for another day!
And when I got home again, I began to think the whole thing through in a bit more depth. I started to mentally list all the areas of progress in my head.
1. Harley handled an entire church service in a new environment with people he had never met previously.
2. We went for lunch in a place that he’d never been before.
3. We were able to walk 2 whole blocks before Harley showed signs of not coping.
4. Harley not only recognized himself that he wasn’t coping but he was able to communicate that to me without screaming and melting down. He was able to use some of the anxiety coping techniques that we’ve been teaching him WHEN HE NEEDED THEM and for me….this is HUGE progress!
A few years ago – he wouldn’t have been able to let me know that he was close to losing it….he wouldn’t have recognized that split second and make the decision to ask for help – he would have just exploded and I would have been angry at myself for not reading him better and the rest of the day would have been a write off because coming down from a mammoth meltdown can take literally hours! Not to mention the fact that it drains him as well as us.
Harley didn’t reach the point of no return yesterday because it was nipped in the bud so to speak. Afterwards – told him how proud I was of him for using his words. He is doing remarkably well at learning that if he talks about something that I can then help him. (This is a phrase that my dear friend has been drumming into him for a while now). I’m seeing so much exciting stuff going on with him (in particular) lately that it warms my heart.
And lastly – I want to say to any parents of younger kids who seem to be massively unpredictable and hard work at the moment…..go back and read some of my earlier posts and read about the struggles I had with Harley only 3 years ago. I remember parents of older kids telling me that ‘it will get better’ and I didn’t believe them. I couldn’t believe them.
But you know what? It does, it really does. It may only be small things at the moment but combined with all the other ‘small things’ from the past (almost) 3 years since I started this blog – they all add up to massive progress.
And its only onwards and upwards from here…