• Understanding Autism from the Inside

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When the Hot Water Just Isn’t Hot Enough

explosionEver have one of those days? When you are so out of sorts that even your super sensitiveness shuts down on you.  You go from being hyper-sensitive, to being hypo-sensitive—today has been one of those days.

Hubby has been home for hours, and I am only now relaxed enough to even hop in the shower.  There is something about the water that gets me thinking, gets the words flowing in my head. But tonight something else caught my attention—the temperature of the water.

Most days shower water can feel like tiny shards of glass hitting my skin.  Too hot; it hurts. Too cold; it hurts.  The temperature has to be just right or I cannot tolerate it.  This is especially true on my super-sensitive days. The days that I know I need to take care because my system is revved up before I even get a cup of coffee in the morning.

Then there are days like today, when I step under the flow of water and feel nothing.  No shards of glass, no comforting water, no hotness, no coldness—just nothing. Days like today when I’ve managed to avert a full-blown meltdown, but at a price.

FROM HYPER-SENSITIVE TO HYPO-SENSITIVE

I turned the hot water on high until I felt the warmth, and then it faded. More hot water—I turned the handle again, and again, and again. I turned the cold water off completely and stood under the scorching downpour feeling mildly warm, but at least I felt it.

The Tot stayed home from daycare today. I couldn’t handle sending him—the fight to get dressed, the literal fight into the van, where he is kicking, screaming, and trying to bite me because he doesn’t want to go.  I just couldn’t do it, not after the first thing he said to me when he woke up this morning was, “Mommy, I want to stay here, stay at the house.  No want to go go, no want Kim (his teacher’s name).”

After that, I couldn’t bare the tears and the looks of betrayal he gives when I force him through the door at the daycare. Today, my heart just couldn’t take it—so he stayed home.

He was really good most of the day—most of it. His behaving costs all my attention, every bit of it, every second of the day. It is like being on stage 24/7 trying to keep him happy, trying to stop a meltdown, trying to make him smile.  It’s work, and it’s tiring. I can do it, if I do nothing else.

Mid-afternoon came and so did the screaming, biting, kicking, throwing things over, he was tired. There is nothing that I can do that stops his outbursts. Punishment doesn’t help, time-outs do nothing (he doesn’t stay), and if I remove him from the room he only runs right back and continues his tyranny.  The madness just has to pass, and it did.  Two and a half hours later, he passed out from exhaustion on the sofa. He wasn’t the only exhausted one.

I can’t handle the heartache of sending him to daycare like this, but I can’t handle him at home all day either.  Not when I am trying to complete school work, work on another book, write articles, home school Aspie Teen and take care of a newborn.  It is too much; the Tot requires too much to get anything else accomplished.

FROM THE BRINK OF MELTDOWN TO SHUTDOWN

He fell asleep, and I feel silent, flashing red lights going off in my head, and a voice screaming, “Mayday, Mayday, meltdown imminent!”

I wanted to scream, to throw things, to kick things, to get all my anger and frustration out.  I would have felt better if I spent time banging my head I am sure of it, but instead I pulled back. Withdrew myself and began shutting down.

I was overloaded—emotional, and sensory systems at max—like a nuclear reactor getting ready for a meltdown, there was nothing I could do but shut all systems down immediately.  I had no more words to speak, no ability to socialize even with my husband, or be in the same room with the kids. Thankfully Hubby was already en route home from work by this time.

Four hours went by, I sat on the bed, played Candy Crush, hoping to crush my brain in the process, and waited to feel better.  I didn’t.  Maybe tomorrow.  Sometimes a night’s sleep will help to bring systems back online normally again, a mental re-boot—we will see.  For now the best thing I could think of to do was to get my thoughts down, to write them out, to share them with you all, which always makes me feel at least a little bit better.

Plus, I am avoiding the hairdryer.  I think I will just yank this towel off my head and go to sleep. Maybe if I wake up looking like Medusa in the morning the kids will be too scared to bother me.

 

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Jeannie Davide-Rivera

Jeannie is an award-winning author, the Answers.com Autism Category Expert, contributes to Autism Parenting Magazine, and the Thinking Person's Guide to Autism. She lives in New York with her husband and four sons, on the autism spectrum.