O Son, My Son
0 comment Tuesday, July 8, 2014 |
Regression, like autism itself, is rather a fraught subject; some people believe it's a valid piece of the puzzle, others that it's an excuse, but now and again, I get hit upside the head with my son coasting along, doing fine, then suddenly out of the blue his behaviour patterns go back to being a two-year old.
He has always taken to new things slowly - took ages for him to crawl, to walk, to speak. That's considered par for the course with autism; however something which is possibly unique to my child is that he literally did all these things one day without even a hint of build-up. He shocked the nursery when he suddenly crawled into a playtube then came out the other side "looking chuffed with himself". He didn't walk for ages, then just stood up and literally RAN into my arms. He didn't speak in anything but his limited language of "juh-juh-juh-TOAST!" and then suddenly put a whole sentence together. "Want nice toast mummy." I don't think I'll forget that day, my knees literally buckled and I collapsed into tears whilst my son ate his croissants and couldn't figure out what the fuss was about.
However, when he excels in some areas, he regresses in others. He went through a period last year which was an exceptionally black time when he reverted to "Juh-juh-juh" and being a baby (I realised he was mimicking the child in ex's new relationship in the hopes of getting more attention, and that was a Battle of its own, believe me). He's forgotten lessons in safety and refused to leave the house even when there was a fire. It's always a scary moment to know that at any time, all the progress and tears and effort put into getting child as far as he's currently gone could disappear, with no warning and no reason.
Recently he's started wetting his bed again; he's been doing this for a few months now but the sheer quantity has me considering putting him in nappies again. He is literally developing nappy rash from the frequent wetting, and I wash him daily in the morning due to the smell of wee. His mattress has to be scrubbed and aired on a regular basis or the smell of ammonia in his room would knock you out. It's not an option I like but I can't force child to do something he's not ready to do. All I can do is clean up the mess, encourage him to do appropriate toileting and hope eventually he'll catch on once more. The rest is damage control.
In addition to this, it seems my son is developing food issues. It used to be that he would eat and eat and eat. Now, over the past few days, he has eaten very little. His lunches from school are returning nearly untouched. I know last week this may have been due to illness, and I also know that it takes a while to build up his appetite which is why I always get his favourite food, pizza, in after he's been ill to encourage him to eat again. This time, the ploy didn't work; he only ate a bit of toppings off the crust and left the rest, something I've never seen him do before.
School has been thrilled with his behaviour, commending how good he is, but commenting that he's tired. I've noticed it myself as he's come home and immediately gone to bed without his usual running around the house. This is highly unusual for him - it may be a nice change to the school to having my child behaving like a mainstream child, but he isn't a mainstream child. Any changes which occur like that is usually because something is wrong. He's tired, taking longer to recover from his winter cough than usual (he always gets one, I'm wondering if asthma is playing a part now), and he's dropping weight rapidly. After a particularly difficult time of trying to get him to eat this morning, I sat down with him to talk and got to the heart of the matter - he was afraid he'd get a stomach-ache if he ate too much. Therefore, he doesn't want to eat. With a sinking feeling, I tried to explain to him that not eating wasn't any better, and that I want him to try extra hard to eat. I've ordered food today which hopefully will encourage him as well - more fruit, more veg, chicken nuggets which he hasn't had in a while and loves.
As a parent, I'm worried. As a parent of a child with special needs, I'm terrified. Is an eating order about to be added to the current issues my son has? Is the bedwetting going to be a regression and if so, where is it coming from? All parents quote "stress" as a trigger, and of course that just makes me wrack my brains harder, driving myself mad trying to figure out what stress he's going through and why I haven't picked up on it, let alone what to do about it. If it coming from the situation at his father's house there's nothing I can do about that. If it's school, likewise unless I remove him entirely - and if I do that, I can kiss my job goodbye as I'll never have the energy to homeschool and work. With all the cuts, where would the money come from?
This all boils into possibly the worst I can think of, and something my ex refuses to even consider; the possibility that my son may not ever be independent. Sure, it's a possibility, sure it's something to shoot for. But I feel I'd be an idiot if I didn't at least consider the other scenario and have a plan in place in case my son required life-long care. I also have to be realistic and realise I won't be around to provide it. While it's certainly admirable to shoot for the goal of child being able to attend university and getting a meaningful full time job, it's a huge goal rather than a feasible future as with other children - it may even just be a dream, and while dreams are obtainable, that doesn't mean one shouldn't face the reality of the waking world.
O son, my son, my heart breaks for you and your blissful smile even when you're running through my house naked and unaware. Eat a bit of toast for me this morning, my darling, and keep talking for me for a little longer.