It's been a rough 10 days or so in the Burrage household. In the last 10 days every single member of the household has been hit by a sickness bug, we've moved house AND I was involved in a car accident. Its not been fun. However, we have pushed through, and are coming out the other side of things. Noah has coped amazingly well with all of the above challenges. We prepped and prepared and prepared some more for move and after some initial nervousness he has settled into the new house well. Even the sickness (something only a few months ago caused intense panic attacks and anxiety for Noah) was managed in a more typical manner.
This week however, he has been a little more out of sorts. Almost like he managed to control his emotions during all the chaos of the last week and now that things are settling down and he is feeling safer - he is letting it all out. He hasn't slept well the last few nights and this morning already started off tough. Refusing to eat breakfast, hiding under the table rather then coming to put his shoes and coat on for school and then trying to run off down the driveway rather then getting in the car all before 8.30am. I pick Noah up early on a Tuesday from school so he can go to his disability riding lesson- and normally he is fine with this. Today he had another meltdown in the playground because I had picked him up before he could ride his bike , leading to us being 5 minutes late for riding and me sporting a nice scratch down my face to evidence the meltdown.
However, the riding as always, settled Noah. We had a lovely lesson with Noah singing the entire hack, we stopped at Simmons on the way home for lunch and then Noah had a nap. I had to go into the town center to the bank this afternoon to cash up for The Butterfly Room and run some other errands.
My main mistake was not putting Noah in his buggy, however, I had left this in the boot of my car which is currently at BMW somewhere being repaired so I figured I could risk it.What a mistake. Noah , with no sense of danger nor care for my stern tone of voice refused to hold my hand and was running off all over town (no need for cardio for me at the gym this week). After a nice jog round the town, I managed to man handle Noah into the nice, quiet, respectable bank. Which, for Noah, was a red flag to a bull. The quiet, the lights, the fact I had picked him up to bring him in, or the fact I was holding on to him for dear life as I attempted to pay cheques into the company account triggered a meltdown that in my head, had known was coming for 10 days. He screamed his high pitch my-god-it goes-right-through me scream, hit, kicked, grabbed my hair and pulled it out and did this on repeat whilst I tried to soothe him, calm him and quite frankly do anything to not completely loose it right there in the middle of the bank.
And then it happened. I have heard many times as a professional the stories of my clients being judged in the street, having comments past their way or being made to feel embarrassed and uncomfortable in certain settings. I've shaken my head in quiet annoyance and wondered at people who can be so ignorant. But it had never happened to me. Until today. A women, in the bank, watching on at Noah's meltdown and looking at us in quiet disgust, loudly directed to me (and everyone else in the bank who at this point were all also watching out the corners of their eyes as they went about their day) commented 'If you disciplined that child he would behave'. My immediate reaction surprised me. I felt tears prick my eyes and I knew my face must have been going a lovely shade of red. I am not sure if it was upset or embarrassment that caused the threat of tears but somehow in the mist of Noah's screaming, holding on to my hair with one hand whilst managing to hit me in the head with his other and now having the entire bank watch on and have this women comment on my parenting I managed to compose myself. I felt angry. Really angry. How dare she? My son is autistic, he is not having a temper tantrum. He is overloaded, over stimulated and over excited and reacting the only way he knows how. He does not have the cognitive ability nor the emotional regulation to stop and ask me if we can hurry up or leave as he feels uncomfortable. He is reacting to his environment. He is not having a temper tantrum. I took a deep breathe, I stared the women in the eye and quietly replied 'he is autistic , not badly behaved' and I left. The banking and all the other errands will have to wait.
The meltdown continued. I half carried, half dragged Noah back to the car and then into it. The very posh, very new BMW that I had been loaned whilst mine is being fixed got the living hell kicked out of it the entire way home and, whilst I turned the music up to soothe both Noah and I, my mind started whirring.
At the end of this month it is Autism Week. If you google autism and click news , articles are being posted every day. The government are in talks to redesign the way blue badges are allocated so individuals with ASD can access these. Current Statistics state that over 695,000 people in the UK have a diagnosis of ASD. But yet, in every day life people have no awareness or understanding of the condition. I am sure this will not be the last time I experience the ignorance of people with no understanding of autism. I know that the majority of my clients, or my friends with children with asd, adhd or other emotional behavioural conditions have also experienced this. But it's not OK.
World Autism Week is running from 26th March - 2nd April 2018 and here at The Butterfly Room we have some ideas that we are confirming this week but I am interested in what, if anything, you are all doing? Or, if you have any suggestions for The Butterfly Room and what we can do so that my experience today, along with all those experiences of my friends and clients , don't have to be a common occurrence.
World Autism Week: http://www.autism.org.uk/get-involved/world-autism-awareness-week/take-part.aspx