I've been trying to write this for a while. It's gone through several drafts and I'm not sure this will express it properly either.
I'm having a hard time knowing how to best help Duncan in some ways. There's so much shouting and wailing and shrieking when he's unhappy. We're all getting overloaded, and each of us, at times, adds to the high levels of noise and anxiety in the house. At some stage every day, Duncan is in floods of tears because of something he wants to be given or have done or because he's just had too much stress. A few times this past week, we were both sobbing, sitting hugging and crying together.
There's so much that I'm grateful for, and every day we have fun and connect and develop, so I'm not in any way ranting about some 'terrible affliction' here. I'm trying to see if writing it down, will help me see what's actually causing this or what I can do or change.
For example, something that's been happening increasingly often, particularly when other children are around for a play, is that Duncan ends up chasing someone, shouting and angry and swatting at them. The other child will shriek and keep running away from him, winding him up even more. I have tried to explain to them all, that they shouldn't do this, that they make him upset and worried and cross when they run away from him. I've asked them to try to stand still and say to him 'don't hit me, that hurts' or even to look really sad or pretend to cry. Duncan always holds back, never tries to really hurt anyone, and hates the idea of making people sad. Many, many times over the past few weeks, I've had to intervene and separate them, often taking Duncan to another room to calm down or to try to distract him. Sometimes it's difficult; he just wants to strike out and I've been the one he vents with.
A really lovely little girl has moved in next door. She and Lady have become great friends and she comes over after school most days. She's been really nice to Duncan and sort of mothers him, which he likes. Her younger brother has been round a few times too. They all get on well and my children are delighted to finally have neighbours to play with; that house having lain empty for over a year.
But yesterday I had to tell Lady that unless they could try really hard, to stop setting up situations where they all start to run away from Duncan, they'd have to play over at their house more often. Yesterday they started playing a game, which I think was instigated by Duncan, where one of them was running after him, saying 'let me see your top', (don't ask!) which he was much happier with. He definitely prefers to be the chased rather than the chaser.
The schools are closed for the half-term break, so another family we're friends with have just been round. The children were playing in the garden, running round getting mucky. Duncan though was with me and my friend, colouring a sheet of paper pink, which I then had to make into a 'Tubby Custard' bowl. He then went out to join the others, and all was well for a while as they bounced on the trampoline. Soon though, Duncan was shouting angrily and running after Lady trying to hit her. The same sort of thing kept happening and he was frustrated and cross. They have just gone home, and Lady and Thomas have gone to their house for a while. It's nice and quiet now, and Duncan and I are chilling out together.
I want to reduce the stress he's under, without stopping them all from having fun. I also need to help him find other ways of dealing with these big feelings, that aren't so upsetting for himself and everyone. We all need to calm the heck down a bit.
autism northern Ireland