Category Archives: Exhaustion

Autistic? Or Naughty?

The Pickle is growing up. He’s a very handsome young man! I look at him sometimes and wonder how I managed to half create such a good looking little guy.

The older he gets however, it’s becoming MUCH harder…. it’s hard to control what’s going on and what he’s getting away with everyday. He’s getting so big now. (he’ll be 4 in July). It’s like having a little person with a very young mind, in an older child’s body. And I’m quite fat and pregnant at the moment.

On a bad day, he screams at me and hits me in the face when he’s frustrated. He fights me on the stairs (one day we will both fall down them for sure and how will anyone get in to save us? The house is locked up to stop the Pickle getting out!), he jumps on me (and my baby bump) with no idea that he can cause any harm, and the hardest one of all…. he does not listen to a word I say.

He doesn’t stop, wait, listen or eat when I tell him too. I can’t get him to sit at the table for more than 10 seconds. I have to bribe him with chocolate, biscuits and ipads and all the things you’re not supposed to give to your child when you want them to do something for you! Most days, I fell totally and utterly powerless in my own home. I’m redundant as a mother. Nothing I do makes any difference to what he’s doing. Add to that, a crazy puppy (who also doesn’t listen) and 8 month pregnancy exhaustion, I have been known to just burst into tears randomly and in front of the Pickle. Another terrible thing to do with he’s the child and I’m the adult. And perhaps it’s a good thing, but the Pickle can’t actually comprehend that either. Because he doesn’t understand that other people have feelings and emotions. He just looks at my snotty, red face in curiosity and will sometimes laugh or copy me.

Yesterday somebody said an innocent comment to me that I secretly took quite hard. We met for some lunch and she asked me if the Pickle was a good eater. I started to explain that he only eats dry food, usually bland colours, and that sometimes there were exceptions to the rules, but he hadn’t let a vegetable pass his lips in over a year and I was trying to fix that but it’s difficult to keep offering foods when you know it will be rejected and you’re just throwing money into the bin. She said with a smile ‘wow he’s really got one over on you hasn’t he?’ I laughed and said ‘yeah’.

But it totally hit a nerve, because I feel like he really HAS got one over on me. A 3 year old child that has total control over his 32 year old mother. A 3 year old that laughs in my face when I tell him off or try to stop him from destroying something. A 3 year old that never, ever, ever, EVER listens to me.

I find that really hard.

And I keep telling myself, it’s just his autism. It’s just his autism. He doesn’t understand. But I do wonder sometimes, his behaviour is getting worse. At what point, is it autism, and when is it naughty? How do I tell the difference? Are the two mixed in together sometimes? And shouldn’t I know as his mum when it’s down to social communication issues, or when he’s just being a 3 year old who doesn’t want to be told what to do?

He also seems to save up all the really challenging behaviours just for me. When I take him out, I can’t get him to sit anywhere for long (coffee meet ups are becoming a thing of the past) but he is generally very well behaved when he’s in public. I think he’s shy when he’s out. He barely speaks, he just holds my hand and walks to wherever I’m going, and when we get there, he’ll go find a door to open and close or a car to run back and forth for an hour until it’s time to go again. Then we’ll get home and he’ll become loud, stimmy, thumpy and door slammy. Or he’ll shout at me and I won’t be able to understand what he’s saying and it frustrates him even more and makes me sad.

At the weekend when my husband is around, I’ve been known to actually hide! I’ll lock myself in the bathroom or slip quietly off to the bedroom just to sit with my eyes closed for a while. I’ve been dealing with the Pickle’s challenging behaviour all week, and I take the occasional opportunity to run away from it sometimes. I probably shouldn’t…. but my husband does deal with him very well and he’s not as worn down as me. He gets to sit in an adult environment for 40+ hours a week dealing with a whole other type of high pressure. (again this doesn’t make hiding right, but it does mean I know his tolerance is higher than mine when I just need a break!).

And the humbling thing is that, I know that I’m lucky with the Pickle. Compared to some of the things I’ve read about, or seen for myself, he really isn’t that bad. He is a sweet natured little boy who doesn’t meltdown every day, or have any major behavioural issues with other children. If you can get past the door opening/closing obsession, the slamming, the fixations and the routines, he is very easy to get on with and to love. So if I’m finding his older preschool personality so difficult to cope with in the afternoons, how on earth do other parents cope with some of the things I hear about?! I take my hat off to all of you. You are all bloody amazing!

In the meantime, Pickle is going to preschool 4 mornings a week, and I can have some quiet time then to get on with things. Oh my goodness, I love my quiet time. Then it’s off to pick up the Pickle and start the afternoon hometime fun all over again! But is it autism? Or is it sometimes naughty?

And will I learn to tell the difference and be able to parent my son properly before it’s too late?

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I’ve hit BURNOUT!

I’ve been meaning to blog for a while. I’ve had lots of ideas for posts, but I just haven’t found the energy.

Today I’m making myself sit down and write one. And the only thing I can think about is how exhausted I feel. So I’m going to write a bit about that. And tell you some things about me. If I can stay focused long enough!

I haven’t mentioned it up until now but the Pickle is about to become a big brother! I’m 8 months pregnant. It’s been a long and emotional road. It’s taken a lot of patience, frustration and 2 rounds of IVF to get here. I never saw that little curveball coming either! We’d never had any problems making Pickle. Last year I had to put my body through a lot. I learned to give myself twice daily injections, I had to inject drugs that made me feel a bit crazy (my long suffering husband got shouted at a lot), I had to go under anesthetic on a number of occasions and had to go through some fairly unpleasant procedures. But we got there. And we’re having a little girl. And we’re thrilled. I know more than anyone how hard it is when you can’t have what you desperately want, and so I am very blessed and thankful for the position that we’re in.

Also, we recently bought a puppy for the Pickle. She’s a labrador crossed with a Newfoundland. And they’re massive dogs! So we’ve basically got a huge puppy with beautiful eyes, webbed feet and a naughty temperament. She is beautiful. She’s been really good for the Pickle (although she thinks he’s a puppy too!!). The Pickle loves her too. He says her name randomly in the car when I pick him up from nursery so I know that he’s thinking about her and he looks forward to seeing her. They play games together. He throws things for her and she runs after them. She doesn’t bombard him with words and questions and she has unconditional love and interest for him. She’s really helping him.

We knew when we bought the puppy that the timing was terrible for us! I was 4 months pregnant and dogs are hard work! Both my husband and I both had dogs growing up and we understand the level of commitment and work that a canine family member requires; especially when they’re playful, naughty puppies. I have spent the last 4 months cleaning up more poo and wee than I ever thought possible. There are rough patches on my knees from all the time I’ve spend kneeling on the kitchen floor! I have had to put so much mental energy into knowing where the dog is at all times, and always knowing where Pickle is at the same time! It’s been like looking after two babies who are in bigger bodies. Theyr’e both quite physically strong, neither of them listen to a word I say, sometimes it’s one being difficult, sometimes it’s the other, most often it is both, at the same time. Argh!!

Are they both playing well together? (not always!!) Is the puppy destroying something? (Pickle made some very rare artwork when he was 2 years old that always sat proudly on our fridge.. not anymore. The puppy got it). I literally cannot leave the puppy alone in a room for more than a minute! She is big enough already to jump up and get things on surfaces (no food on my kitchen is safe) and she chews everything she sees which is difficult as Pickle leaves toys everywhere. The Pickle likes to take everything from the puppy and has developed a habit of putting her toys in his mouth! (yuck) It’s been hard work. But worth it to see the Pickle bond with her. And when the baby comes, everything will change. But the puppy will still be Pickle’s friend. She won’t change. And I hope that will be a comfort for him during what will be a really challenging time of change for all of us.

Lots of people when they meet me ask if the Pickle is excited about the new baby. I’m pretty sure he has no idea whatsoever!! We’ve read a lovely ‘lift the flap’ book about mummy having a baby in her tummy and another one about being a big brother with buttons and noise, and the Pickle has learned the response when asked, ‘What’s in mummy’s tummy?’ he dutifully answer: “Baby!” but I don’t believe he has any real concept of what’s going on. So it’s really difficult to know how he’ll react, and it does worry me. But he always has the capacity to surprise me and I’m mostly remaining positive about it all 🙂

Whilst all this has been going on, we’ve also been organising the Pickles EHC plan for when he starts primary school in September. (eek!) That’s been hard work too. The other night, I received all the recent reports on Pickle made by his nursery, the Pre-school Specialist, the Educational Psycologist and his Speech & Language therapist. They were all lumped together, one report after the other. That was hard reading. It was 24 pages of all the bad stuff. About how ‘special needs’ my child actually is, how much help and support he’s going to need to do the basic things that all other kids do automatically, and what development level he is at. (It’s not nice reading that your 3 & a half year old is in some areas, the level of an 8 month old baby!)

When I read that report the other night, it made me sad. But something kind of snapped inside. I’ve been feeling so tired. I’m heavily pregnant, dealing with a crazy household where everybody constantly wants things from me but nobody listens to what I want them to do, I have a to-do list that never seems to get any smaller, getting out of the door, into the car and into town for something… actually, just walking up the bloody stairs feels exhausting! And I’ve been feeling like things are spiralling out of control whilst I try desperately to appear normal. I can’t remember dates, times, where I’m supposed to be or what somebody said to me five minutes ago. Everytime I put something down, I lose it. I’ve become that person who is always late or rearranging to meet up. I’m scared things won’t be ready for the baby and there’s so little time left to sort it out. But I don’t have the energy to sort the things that need sorting. I don’t know how the baby is going to fit into this crazy existance that is already so full to the brim of people needing me. I’m just keeping going…. keeping going…. keeping going….. then I read the report. And I felt sad. Then I went and looked at the Pickle asleep in bed, my little boy, And suddenly, something just snapped and I was so exhausted.

So yesterday afternoon, after screaming at the dog and the Pickle for playing too roughly and physically seperating them (which again makes me exhausted), I put the dog in the crate, and just went upstairs and put myself to bed in the middle of the afternoon. It was like I couldn’t do anything anymore. I was supposed to write a shopping list and make a chicken pie, but I couldn’t face it. Time suddenly stopped and my thoughts were fuzzy.

The Pickle thought it was a great game! He came and got into bed with me, got his nightime turtle and put it on, closed the curtains, took his trousers off, then started laughing and smacking me round the head because I was lying down being funny! At least he was where I could keep an eye on him, so I just lay there, and thought how I couldn’t do this anyomore. I thought about selling the dog. I felt like such a faliure because I clearly couldn’t cope and more than anything, I felt really scared about the future, and cursing myself for taking on too much, soon to be a new baby as well! I felt like such an idiot. A product of my own decisions, lying in bed at 4pm being hit round the head by my autistic toddler with a crazy puppy barking non-stop downstairs and a baby arriving in weeks, and it’s all been my decisions, and I’m not coping.

So that was yesterday, I’m still exhausted, but I’m feeling a bit happier today. But I realised that yesterday I totally burned out. I couldn’t keep going. I kind of knew it was coming, but I didn’t realise how exhausted I really was. And the difficult thing is there’s no easy solutions to fix it! The Pickle will still be the Pickle, the puppy will still be the puppy, the baby is coming soon no matter what! And I do feel like a total and utter flake and a faliure at the moment. But I’m happy for everything I have. I’m blessed with an amazing, funny, intelligent little boy, and beautiful puppy who always gives me love, even when I’ve just shouted at her, a husband who although he despairs of me most of the time, but will always love me, be there for me and try to help when he can, and there’s a beautiful new little baby who’s about to change our lives again forever and who we fought so hard to bring into our lives. When I allow myself too, I feel her kick and I smile for the love that’s about to overwhelm me all over again. So I guess things can’t be all bad.

And on that note, I’ve recently had this made… it represents my little family. The ‘husband’ heart is for my other half (obviously!) The autism heart is for the Pickle, the pink flower is for my unborn daughter, and the ying yang is for me!

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So yeah… that’s why the blog posts have been a bit non-existant lately! And I know this one is a bit all over the place. But it’s something at least and perhaps you’ve learned a little more about me. I hope you’re all doing ok with your own crazy lives, thanks for reading my blog so far and I hope you keep reading! It’s really nice to get everyones comments and I always read your updates too. Even if I’ve been too tired to reply lately 😉

I’m off to make that chicken pie now… x