Soul crushing meltdowns

Caleb had a great morning yesterday. He’s actually been having lots of amazing days. He’s taking a new supplement. He’s talking more, clear and concise cognitive thoughts. He is an absolute joy and I’m really enjoying this phase of parenting.

When he came home from therapy yesterday he asked to watch Angry Birds 2. I hadn’t watched these movies but he was watching the trailer on YouTube and was enjoying the music. Less than 5 minutes in he had his ears covered, he said he didn’t want his headphones. Instead he got up ran in the room and closed the door. I turned off the TV right away and yelled that it was off and everything was ok.

I was too late. He opened the door and said “Mama I wet myself” his face had already changed. It was happening, we were about to go through a meltdown. The “look” of a meltdown is one of both sadness, fear and anger. Tears were in his eyes. I told him it was ok and as I went to comfort him and change his clothes he went on the attack. It was the worst meltdown he’s had in awhile. It would last for what seemed like forever.

He was intentionally and unintentionally urinating on himself and trying to vomit. I got scratched and hit in the throat. Fuck! That one hurt. I wasn’t fast enough, soon I won’t be strong enough. He’s a solid 60lbs.

I’m ashamed to say that I didn’t handle it well. I apologized immediately. He was hurting, he didn’t mean it. I was hurting. We were both sweating. By the end of it I had stripped down to my underwear and he was naked.

We were exhausted physically and emotionally. I was asking him to tell me his feelings and he was screaming “SAD!!” but couldn’t tell me why. When he finally ran out of steam, I held him on my lap, a lap that he’s outgrown. He will soon be bigger than me. I wiped his tears and told him I loved him.

And then as quickly as you flick a switch, he wiped his own tears and asked me for a cupcake. We were on the other side…well he was. Sometimes it takes my mind body and soul a little longer to catch up.

As I fed him his cupcake he asked me for underwear and his iPad, when I got back with both he quietly touched my cheek and said “sorry mama” and then found his YouTube videos like nothing happened.

I was sorry too, I told him again. Sorry he had to go through this, sorry I didn’t know better about the movie, sorry that I didn’t turn it off at the first sign of overstimulation. Sorry that I screamed out and screamed at him when I got that tough little right hook to the throat.

While he relaxed on the couch and waited for Gemma to come back with his lunch, I cleaned up the three rooms we had destroyed in the process. The pee on the bathroom floor and my bedroom, the toys he’d thrown and broken in the living room, papers he’d pulled off the kitchen counter..our clothes that we’d stripped out of as we tussled through the house in my attempt to restrain him. In a meltdown he’s out for blood and destruction. Protecting him from him is priority number 1, protecting Gemma is next but she luckily was not home. In our last meltdown I yelled out “mom go in your room and lock your door!”

It scared me..I’m sure it scared her.

Caleb will be 6 soon but in a meltdown he has the strength of a man. He’s becoming more powerful, I will physically have to maintain my strength to protect all of us from these meltdowns as I don’t know if or when they’ll ever end. That is a reality I have read about and have started to prepare for. It’s the reality that will never make it to our YouTube channel but it’s also an important part of our story that I feel the need to share.

Caleb is not only autism but autism is a part of our world, everyday and all day. It doesn’t always present itself in a meltdown but when it does, it is unannounced and certainly packs a punch (sometimes literally).

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