So there you are, sitting in a food court at the local shopping centre. You’re just about to take the first bite of your freshly made deli sandwich and something like an air raid siren makes you spasm and reflexively you grasp even harder on the only thing in your hands, your $8 sandwich. As the tomato squirts off your panini and onto your white shirt, you look down, sigh, then the second wave hits you, you’re shoved and the rest of your sandwich joins the tomato.
Instinctively you are now ready to unleash both barrels on the vermin that lays withering and screaming on the floor next to you.
You look up at the child’s mother who is furiously collecting all her belongings and trying to make a hasty retreat. She sees you looking at her withers on the spot and starts muttering profusely….’Sorry…sorry…so sorry!’ Collecting her second child, obviously a twin by the look of things, and a third toddler a little bit older she starts to shake. You can see her hands visibly trembling and you can’t help yourself.
You later recall yelling a barrage of things at her like ‘terrible mother’, ‘no manners’, ‘breeding trash’ and a few more choice expletives. Feeling slightly better about yourself, you turn back to your sandwich, collect it up in a napkin and go searching for the nearest bin while mumbling something to yourself about dry cleaning and still being hungry….
Sound familiar? Have you ever found yourself in this situation or watching something like this unfold? Don’t worry if you have, we’ve all been there at one point in time or another.
So what is my point? My point is simple, did you stop and take a breath to assess what was really going on? Did your anger override your sense of civility or did you just not care to look closer at what was really happening around you?
Confused? Don’t be, you wouldn’t know or even understand unless you were part of the family sitting behind you. So what’s new about a meltdown you ask? All kids have them! Some people ARE bad parents, etc,etc.
Uh huh….really? Let’s rewind and change perspective here for a moment. Let’s see what is going through the head of the mother of three kids.
So here I am, sitting in a food court at the local shopping centre with my three kids. It’s been a hell of a day with the first meltdown in the doctor’s surgery. Like the filthy looks weren’t enough, now I have to try and feed these three. Putting down the tray full of chips and sandwiches, child 1 & 2 tuck in straight away. Child 3 on the other hand raises his hand and starts waving it at the sandwich. I look down in horror and realise there is still crust on the sandwich. I cringed…OH SHIT!
I can see it all unfolding in slow motion and there is not a thing I can do about it. I can see the intake of the next breath but I know I won’t make it in time to stop it from happening.
It arrives, he throws himself backwards again and screams….not just any scream, a blood curdling one with conviction backing it all the way.
My world dissolves into a panic as I see him knock the guy behind him and drop his lunch into his lap. I see him turn, look at my son as tears already spring to my eyes while I try to gather the kids together and make a hasty retreat.
The guy eyes me and unleashes both barrels on me and my family. Horrid, horrid words tumble about me. My thoughts are a mess. I questioned why I HAD to go shopping today, but there is nothing at home. What choice did I have?
My son is in full flight, the yelling gets louder and I can barely stop shaking. Why don’t they understand that my son has ASD.
YELLING AT HIM OR ABUSING ME WILL NOT MAKE IT GO AWAY!
Welcome to my world, with twins and a child with ASD nothing is normal, nothing is easy and nobody else can see what I see….
So, does the picture look a little different now? Isn’t everything about circumstances and perspective? Don’t you feel proud that you unloaded your frustrations onto someone else?
Meh…who cares? Well today I do….
Simple, and it is a two fold answer.
1] I have a family member who teaches these wonderful, bright, intelligent kids.
You scoff? Trust me, until you meet one and take the time to get to know their particular quirks, you wouldn’t have the faintest idea of what I am talking about.
Agile minds that cannot cope with sensory overload. Don’t understand?
Try to understand this then. The average person hears two million sounds a second but our brains filter it down to a manageable level of about two thousand a second.
Now, what happens if this filter wasn’t active? The ‘sensory overload’ would be just unbearable, and it is, not only for the child but every parent that has a child similar to this. Oh and remember, this is only one of hundreds of things our kids suffer from depending where they are on the spectrum.
2] I saw the post of a friend whose child has ASD and described something very similar. A multiple (super) mum who has to run a household with three other kids while performing miracles on the minute to try to keep the household on an even keel. I hope by sharing her pain I will halve your anger and you might, just might, reassess the next set of circumstances you find yourself in before you bite.
If you don’t know its broken you can’t fix it….
I haven’t fixed it but by hell or high water I will never sit by and watch this happen to anybody else….ever.
For those who are unsure or would like more information, here are a few links:
Autism Spectrum Australia
If you are a Multiple Birth Parent go to the Australian Multiple Birth Association website and look up your nearest club.