The descent into ASD's dark side began on Monday. Who has descended, exactly? Well, Anna. And she's dragging me and Megan along with her. DH is probably thanking his lucky stars that he gets to go to work. I'd like to escape. I'm sure Anna would too, but we are stuck. This break...two weeks long and only 5 days into it, has so far been one long meltdown after another. Meltdowns not of the tantrum variety (which used to be a given), but of the sobbing variety. Anna's inability to control her emotional response has us all walking on egg shells this week.
How many ways can I say "this sucks"? The sobbing, the toddler-like egocentricity, the attempt to assert control over things out of her control (Megan gets the brunt of this because she will not be controlled)... the absolute inability to deal, the screams like an animal in pain when she doesn't understand why I'm getting after her for being nasty to her sister. Let me tell you how fabulous those are, especially when we are outside. She shrieks like I'm sticking her with hot pokers when I tell her it's time-out for being mean to her sister. I swear one of these days the neighbors will call the police about the blood-curdling screams coming from our back yard. I don't say "autism" so much anymore because it's really not terribly obvious these days, but I'm saying it this week. Hello, autism, how the hell are ya? Gosh I've missed you. Not.
And here we were, cruising along, Anna doing swimmingly at school. I was actually afraid she is doing so well that her school was going to kick her out and tell me it's time for her to be mainstreamed. And then Christmas break happens. I wish I had a video camera to record what's been happening at home, just in case anyone tried to tell me it's time for mainstreaming. The family has been asking lately...so when will Anna be mainstreamed? I keep saying NOT YET. Not before she's ready. She's doing well at her school because she has the supports to do well there! They make accommodations for her and it's working really freaking well, but that does not mean she's ready for public school (or even a private typical school). She's doing well with support. She will not do so well without support. And I have no desire to see my daughter crash and burn.
I can still see her fear. And I am fearful for her. Before she got the ASD diagnosis and early intervention started, Anna lived in fear and confusion, unable to communicate meaningfully with anyone or understand a world that was foreign to her. The neurologist called it ASD. The speech pathologist suggested Asperger's Syndrome. The preschool coordinator called it both Semantic-Pragmatic and Expressive-Receptive language disorders. The occupational therapist called it Sensory Integration Disorder, hypotonia, apraxia, and dysgrahia. She's doing a heck of a lot better, but the fear is still there. I can see it in her eyes when she runs into a social situation she does not understand, or when she does not know the correct answer to give to a question. I asked her today, after a particularly bad time-out session, how I could help her. She looked at me and said "I don't know".
I don't know either. I'm afraid in my search for understanding, she will implode, and I will explode, both of us with fear and frustration.