I experienced first hand yesterday my friend Bec’s boy Will having a meltdown. I’ve seen him in a mood and being horrible before but I’ve never seen him in the rage and torment that I saw him in yesterday. It was awful, not only for Bec but for poor Will himself.

Will is probably the only kid with autism that I know that I can’t pick. He’s a gorgeous boy, a good friend to my son Bill and a pleasure to have as a guest. He’s got lovely manners – better than my own kids – and, thanks to his upbringing, knows right from wrong. Most autistic kids I’ve met I can either tell that they’re autistic straight away or after a while have an ‘aah’ moment when I see it but with Will I couldn’t for a long time. He’s nothing like Beth and seems to be ‘in the moment’ which a lot of our kids aren’t. He’s very rule orientated, fair and very literal. Therein lies his problems. He takes things so literally that if Bec sways away a bit from what she said he has big issues. Also, if something happens to him in regards to bullying and nobody else sees it, his belief in being just is put to the test. Why should these kids get away with what they’ve done? Why doesn’t anybody else do something about it?

I read a book recently and one thing stood out more than anything. When these kids have an issue, whatever the problem, it’s important to acknowledge how they are feeling. We may not see things the way that they do. Often things happen the way they think, other times it’s what they perceive to have happened. Either way, they believe it has happened. It’s important to say “I’m sure that hurt your feelings” or ” that must have been horrible” as to them it is true. There is no point in trying to argue the point when a child is in meltdown as it will only make the situation worse.

Last night’s incident was a real one. Will was hit in the face with a basketball and he went right off. He was screaming and kicking and had to be carried to the car by a male adult. He was swearing and crying and I just looked at Bec and my heart broke for her. This is what she has to deal with nearly every day. I went to the car after a while and stroked his head while I talked to him. I was lucky he let me and I’ve no doubt that it may not work next time, he may tell me where to go! The awful thing was that he sounded so anguished, asking over and over again “Why, why?” and my heart broke a little bit again. That poor kid just didn’t understand why it was done to him. I don’t know if it was an accident or not, I just know that he didn’t believe it was and I felt awful for him.

It’s so sad that in this day and age of inclusion of special needs kids, mixed races and same sex couples raising children that we still get those who think it’s funny to be mean at other people’s expense. I’m not talking about this situation, I’m talking about all the years that I’ve experienced and seen with my friends kids too. I’ve recently written a social story for a friend whose son is constantly bullied by kids whenever he’s alone. It’s a sport to them, let’s tease this kid because he bites back. It’s no wonder kids like Will react the way they do to every little slight, it’s happened to them before and the lines blur between times it was real or times that they thought it was real. They reach a threshold and their ‘bucket’ is so full that it comes pouring out of them.

I guess our job as parents is to educate the other parents. Tell them how you feel, tell them what your kids are feeling. They didn’t grow up with kids like ours in school, they didn’t learn about differences and tolerance to those different to them. They don’t feel it like we do. Sadly many parents don’t see what the problem is or worse, they blame the child that has reacted, believing that that’s just what they’re like anyway, it’s not my kids fault. I’ve met many a parent who has made excuses for why their kids are the way they are. If they’re not going to be accountable for their childs actions then what hope have the kids got.

In saying that I’ve been very lucky with my years of schooling with Beth. We’ve had a few little incidences but the good thing about Beth is that she just doesn’t seem to realise that she’s being teased. It’s not good as in it means that she’s very naive of course but it’s good that kids don’t seem to tease her as much as they tease the kids who ark up. In other words she’s not fun to tease as she doesn’t react. Parents at our school have been pretty easy to talk to and most have told me that their kids enjoy Beth’s company. Or maybe they’re just telling me what I wanted to hear, who knows. I do feel that our experience has on the whole been a positive one. I know how lucky I am.

About Sarah

Mother of an autistic child wanting to write about my personal experiences
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