This morning I was browsing twitter in the early hours and came across this beautiful quote…
I thought how perfectly it was written, and how it applies so much to so many of my friends and family who often confide in me that they fear they are failing at this parenting game. My response has always been along the lines of “they just need you”. And I’m a firm believer in that. A child needs to know you’re invested in them. You’re there for them, they are your priority.
It was almost exactly a year ago that I started to believe that I just wasn’t enough for my kiddo. It was our first summer where the symptoms of autism were truly blossoming. Meltdowns were at an all time high and self harm was a more than regular occurrence. Whatever I was doing, however I was parenting, it just wasn’t enough. My child was lost. Lost in our world, lost in his own world, consumed by sensory overload and confusing messages that he just couldn’t decipher.
I’m sure many parents will agree with me when I say that there is no worse agony you can feel as a mum or dad, than seeing your child in pain and being able to do nothing about it. And boy did I feel it. In my thoughts, my dreams and my desperate acts to do anything to make life easier for this two year old.
He was only two. TWO. How can this world be so painful for such an innocent unsuspecting cherub who never asked to be brought into this world? Something had to be done.
I started to realise that at this point there was just no way I was able to find a way into kiddo’s complex mind. And I’m not sure I was ready to learn what he was thinking anyway. So I decided, as I often do, to take a more practical approach. Because somehow, I had to find a way to be enough for this child.
Head banging walls was the self harm dish of the day at this point. And I’m not just talking light bumps to the noggin, I’m talking full pelt self injurious behaviour with passion and serious intent. And it had to be stopped.
So that day I decided that if I couldn’t stop the behaviour behind the self harm, I would find a way to protect the kiddo from himself. I bought several large memory foam pads. And I’m talking large pads, ones that were bigger than kiddo himself, approximately 5 feet high. I wrapped them up in pvc material like Christmas presents. I even chose a pretty pattern of multi coloured pencils so they looked like they belonged in the bedroom of a two year old. And I stuck them to the walls of his bedroom.
At this point I feel I should mention that if you have a child with autism, make sure you invest in some seriously good Velcro… you have no idea how much you will need!
And there we had it. Kiddos once beautiful bedroom with cars on the wall and cuddly toys askew had become what many would view as a padded cell. I stood back and observed my work. You would think I felt a sense of accomplishment. Not really. In fact I cried. I had no idea if this would work, if this would help, if this was enough.
Had I done enough? Time would tell.
Sure enough the next meltdown swiftly came. So we guided him into his bedroom, from what we called that day forward “his safe space”, and we watched as he smashed his head into the foam on his walls. I prayed that they would protect him. But I knew he needed the sensory relief also. And to my huge relief, the meltdown subsided and kiddo’s head remained intact. He looked around, almost looking for pain, realised it wasn’t there and climbed into his bed for an hour of blissful play on the iPad.
And that’s when I realised. Even if the memory foam had failed, at that moment, I had done enough. I may not have been enough, but I had done enough. Because I had done everything I could. Sometimes, it’s about doing all in your power, and regardless of the outcome, that makes you enough right there and then.
Thanks for reading, and never give up.