No one knows your child better than you do… at least, that’s how it should be. That’s not true for every single parent but that’s a subject for another post. I digress…
All children have limits, Autism has a way of setting the bar a tad lower so that it’s hit a little sooner, a little more often. However, it’s still a bar to reach and as the parent, you begin to recognize where that bar is and how far away your child is from reaching it.
The terrible twos
It’s usually around the age of two when that limit begins to show itself in a recognizable fashion. It’s around this time that afternoon naps stop happening as part of a routine and begin happening as a way to calm the storm.
For what ever reason, when children get tired… they do one of two things:
- They put their head down or against what ever they have next to them, unable to keep their eyes open any longer, then fade away into dream land
- They build momentum, gathering energy from the depths of their being and turn into very loud, very hateful little monsters that freak out at seemingly anything and nothing
Does any of that sound familiar? Do you remember those days?
Anyone that has a child older than 2 recognizes the “uh oh, I think someone is ready for a nap” part of the day where nothing can keep a child from getting upset.
Autism and the years that follow
The reason that it’s called the terrible twos is that children grow out of that, they stop having naps and hopefully stop testing you so much.
With Autism though, that may not be the case. Well, let me rephrase that… they may stop napping, they may stop testing you but they may still be reaching their limits just as easily as ever.
My son Cameron, 6 with Autism has long outgrown afternoon naps. His little brother Tyler, 3 without Autism, has now outgrown naps as well.
However, there are still days when Tyler is very obviously tired in the afternoon and not happy with anything. On those days, he’s sent off to bed whether he likes it or not.
It’s much more rare but the same thing happens with Cameron, even to this day.
If he’s having a bad day, if he had a long day the day before, if he woke up too early, if he went to bed too late…. any number of things and in fact, sometimes it seems as though there’s no reason at all…. sometimes he’s simply just at the end of his rope far too easily, far too often.
Today was one of those days.
I work from home but we still have a babysitter during the day when my wife works… as I can’t really work and take care of them at the same time. Well, Cameron was at the end of his rope.. outright defiant and screaming at the baby sitter. So I had to step away from my computer and make an appearance.
It was very clear to me that Cameron had reached his limit and wasn’t coping with it.
Sometimes Cameron, and most autistics really, learn how to deal with it themselves… seeking out a quiet area to be by themselves, or even just sitting back and doing something so as to sort of “power down”, as I call it, to just relax for a bit.
Cameron was clearly not going to be powering down today on his own so I had to step in, get him to his room and inform him of his need to have a nap. He objected, quite loudly, but that was that.
Almost 2 hours later, he emerged from the room… a completely different child. TWO HOURS! So ya…. he was tired!
You know your child and you know when they’ve gone beyond the point of no return. Meaning, they can’t calm themselves back down, they can’t seek out the quiet, relaxation they need on their own… you will have to be the bad guy and tell them that you don’t care what they want, they need to calm down.
Once completely out of control, they could hurt themselves or others… even if not, sometimes the grief is so strong after that they feel guilty for days for how they acted.
If you can’t avoid it from happening before hand, you have to step in and do something as it happens before it gets out of hand.
Know your child’s limits.