How long before a meltdown by Claire

[advert:mpu] Sometimes I think that my head is going to explode. Believe me, it is no easy task bringing up 3 children single-handedly, especially when two of them have an Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). People say to me quite often that they don’t know how I do it. Well, neither do I! I just do it.

However, it has taken its toll this week. It got to a point with Jack, my eight year old who has Asperger’s syndrome that I appealed to his Dad to take custody of him because I had had enough. I couldn’t take it anymore. We’d had self harming on Monday (this is a new behaviour; great welts down the side of his cheeks that he’d inflicted on himself with his nails when I’d insisted he stop playing and get his pyjamas on), flood in the bathroom on Tuesday because I’d left him unattended while I answered the phone and a public tantrum on Wednesday because we were running late and missed his Karate lesson (will I EVER get used to that tutting, stares and obvious looks of disapproval from those ‘know-it-all’ parents of perfectly behaved children?)

Worst of all was the near-miss on Thursday when he went belting across the road without looking because he wanted to get to the other side before his brother and nearly got squashed by a car. The screech of brakes still rings in my ears and makes me feel sick when I think of it. I’d had enough. So Friday saw me emailing his Dad, imploring him to take Jack off my hands PERMANENTLY because I couldn’t cope any more.

Looking back now, I don’t know what I expected the poor man to do. He’s living in one room since we split up 6 months ago, pending the financial settlement. What he did do, rightly or wrongly, was phone Social Services and fax them a copy of my distressed e-mail, turn up Friday night for his regular weekend contact with the kids and inform me that the Social Worker would call me. Well, they must be waiting for me to have a complete breakdown because it’s now the weekend and no one has called me yet!

I suppose what I’m trying to say is that it gets to you sometimes. No matter how calm you try to be or how patient you are, sometimes the last straw is just too much and SNAP! I cried for two days. Turned up to school red-eyed and sniffing into a sopping tissue. What a mess! I wonder how long it can go on for? How many more ‘I can’t cope’ incidents before I REALLY snap? How resilient am I? What does ‘can’t cope’ really mean anyway?

It’s been put to me (by their father actually) that maybe I do too much with them. They do activities every day of the week, sometimes two a night and I do a fair bit of running them around to parties, friends’ houses and so on as well. But I feel I have to do these things because they benefit from these activities and enjoy them. Any less would be failing them.

I think the simple lesson to be learnt is that like anybody out there, as a parent of children with ASD, I have good days and bad days, days when I cope better than others and days when I will call out for help. The question is, is the help really there?

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