I just want to SCREAM THAT, sometimes. And I have! But it doesn’t work.
It does not work because he is autistic. And the frustrated tone used to get him to sit still only causes him to escalate, cover his ears or lose it! So I’ve had to developed some serious coping skills of my own, because the one thing that he does not do is sit … still.
The jumping, climbing, hand flapping, running, squealing, repetitive nonsensical chatter, eloping and love for sidewalk curb balancing is only a taste of my everyday.
Many have thoughtfully said, “Oh! but that’s great!” And I try not to think negatively, like “Why? Because he’s not normal?” But I can’t blame them and I don’t. Why should the commenters be attacked while the sceptical starers get away with their looks. After all, they are as clueless as I was before I became an autism mom. But, oh, the perpetual comments.
So I educate others by describing my day as follows: I love love love a song called Danza Kuduro. The first time that I heard it, my hips moved involuntarily. So of course it’s on my walking playlist and it fuels my exercise. But one day, my son heard it and fell in love with it too. And now it plays over and over and over and over and over …. in my house. It’s my favorite song but I want it to stop.
The nice thing about that frustration is that I have control over making it stop. I can press stop. I can then hide the electronics that I pressed stop on.
I am still, however, searching for his magical stop button and though it can be heart breaking, I have decided that we will not hide or isolate to avoid the helpful suggestions that we get from normal people who are under the impression that I am a perpetual new mom who needs unsolicited advice. That too, gets tiring and I don’t have a stop button there either. But, I will take a smile. A nod. Or a hang in there.
Although he is 5, my most repeated sentences on any given day are “Come here” followed by “Stop that” and “Put that down.” He will stim flip a twig, a pen, fork, an action figure, the sister’s barbie doll or his bare hands. Heck, he would stim flip the dog if he could. Sigh…
The funny thing is that I’ve been scolded by the good hearted for being too overbearing and by the disciplinarians for not being strict enough. And don’t let any one see him eat sugar because, mom, there’s your reason. But it’s just not worth saying that he is a lifelong vegetarian, with a love for fruits or that he’s food picky but well nourished in the 97th percentile for height and weight, because fault finders would find fault with that too.
And I’ve been in the homes of folks who sincerely welcomed us and wanted to show us that they are open to having his difference in their home. They have said, “It’s okay. Leave him alone. Let him do his thing” And I look around the room and roll my mental eyeballs while silently saying ” You’re gona eat those words.”
I know that they have a point though. He could use a little less of my favorite sentences, so my home is a haven. I sometimes tell myself that I’ve replaced the living room coffee table with a railed jumping trampoline because I’m such a good mom. Or that the treadmill in the kitchen is only for my fitness. Or the fenced back yard is for the dog. But I lie.
So, I feed his energies, in whatever phase he is in, as my way out. And then, when that doesn’t work, I take comfort in the words of my husband when he says “It can’t last forever.”
So, the ink markings on the leather of my new car and couch…eh, is that all you’ve got. The drum set banging in the living room … bring it! I bought it for you! Sneaking out the back door without your swim vest, pshhh! I got that. Pool is closed. Lessons for everybody!
I’ve have had to accept that it’s not natural for him to sit still. I’ve accepted that I will go broke trying to master “the next phase.” But, you know what, it was not natural for me to become a doctor either. It took someone to believe in me. To push me. To fuel my natural inclinations and train out the unacceptable behaviors. Thank you mom. You were persistent. Thank you Teacher Jon Sterngass. You didn’t care that I was different or not Jewish like you. You only saw potential and fueled it.
So, I will take note. And in my son’s case, since he learned to read by the age of 3 and knows the concept of ‘First this then that” and what it means to wait, his brilliance has given him away. So he will learn to sit still.
Till then, he will have outlets, at home and outdoors, to jump, climp, hand flap, run, squeal, repetitively chatter or try to elope because I’m watching and I have learned and changed my behaviors too.
I won’t worry. He will soon sit still during dinner and at church and I will sit by the curb and tell him when the car is coming.