Some days Autism lays dormant.
It still shows up, but it's pretty. It shows up in the form of giggles and questions and activities that other people may not understand, but you watch him and smile. He may be in his own world, but he's happy there.
Autism comes out kicking and screaming.
It takes over your son's sweet body and leaves you no choice but to face it head on.
It is the bull and you are the matador.
There is no white flag of surrender.
You arm yourself with your sensory brush and your weighted blanket and your bag of tricks from the Occupational Therapist. You muster every ounce of patience. You down your coffee because there is no time to waste and you need the energy. Oh do you need the energy.
The other kids try to help but he cannot be reached today, so you send them upstairs to play while the war rages on.
It is his arms AND his legs this time.
He cannot control them. They feel weird. They're hurting him.
He's screaming and kicking at you to do something about it.
And you know it is not really his arms and his legs that hurt. You know it is the fact that his daddy left for a trip, his mommy worked late last night, and today is the first day of a new VBS. You show him the picture schedule you made to help him through the week. He throws it away. He wants his old picture schedule from your last trip. You pull that one out. Thank goodness you're a slack housekeeper and hadn't thrown it away yet. It also says VBS on it. The VBS that Nana took him to. He wants Nana to take him to this one too.
"She can't, but I can take you. And I can hold your hand. And if you don't like it, you can come home with me."
He hesitates; hopeful.
He doesn't have to stay?
You watch your peaceful three hours to yourself dwindle away.
You mourn their loss.
You curse on the inside but you know you still have one last bag of tricks up your sleeve......
You signed up for this one, even though it's far away, because it has animals. Real animals. Live animals. And boy does he LOVE animals.
You hang on to that thread of hope, dwindling though it may be, that he will change his mind once he's there.
After two hours of screaming and crying, he slows to a stop.
He's hesitant. Unsure. But he sees some butterflies and he wants to try it.
You look him in the eyes and ask one more time: are you sure you want to stay?
You get a slight nod in return.
You watch his brother take his hand and lead him to the butterflies.
Your daughter gives you a look that says "for the love of all things holy, run now!"
You quickly kiss her on the cheek and make your escape, standing outside the door for awhile to make sure he doesn't start screaming again.
You drive home slowly, waiting for the phone to ring.
You ignore the errands that need to be run.
You just won the battle, but the war rages on.
And winning doesn't feel like winning. It's guilt ridden and exhausting.
You lace up your shoes and get ready to hit the pavement.
You need to pray for him while he's there.
You need to pray for the other two.
You take the running shoes off.
You're too tired to go right now.
You hope for a better week for the four of you.