It was only 10.00 am this morning and already my day had gone horribly wrong due to broken promises!
Broken Promises & ASD
There I was, making the most of a little quiet time (something extremely rare in our house), and drinking my coffee, when it all went wrong.
My husband had already left for work, the joys of being a fireman, and I was getting ready to face the day. We’d discussed yesterday, all the things that I wanted to get done on this lovely Sunday and we all knew that the times were negotiable. Simple, or so I thought!
The peace was rudely broken by a meltdown. There was crying, screaming, banging and general mayhem in the room next door. My son was on his X-Box and a friend had promised to play a game with him. He’d promised. Unfortunately, he broke his promise and went to do something else. Now, in a normal world, we appreciate that things happen. People don’t normally make a habit of breaking promises but, we all accept, sometimes things happen.
In the world of ASD, breaking promises is a major issue. We learnt this fairly early on in life.
My poor son was inconsolable. He was smashing things and trying to hurt himself. All because of broken promises! I couldn’t talk to him, he couldn’t hear me. He was consumed by the feelings. To be perfectly honest with you, it was scary. The older he gets, the stronger and bigger he gets. When he’s in that state, he doesn’t really know what he is doing and that is scary. I’d be lying if I said otherwise.
He is very sensory and the one thing that never fails to get through to him, eventually, is the act of chewing. Unfortunately, this has a knock on effect as, invariably, it needs to be food and, at the moment he is very inactive due to not really being able to deal with the outside world.
What did I do?
When he has a meltdown, it has to be treated as a panic attack. He is driven by an anxiety-driven need to be in control. This is a result of the Pathological Demand Avoidance (PDA). If you would like to read more about PDA pop over the the PDA Society site.
I sat and comforted him. My voice remained calm (I hope) and I just spoke to him, acknowledging what had happened. Ignoring the events that had led to the current meltdown/panic attack wasn’t going to work. In the moments where he was quieter I explained that I couldn’t leave him until I was convinced that he wasn’t going to hurt himself. Eventually, I began to get through to him that, until he had some control, I couldn’t get him what he needed to feel better as it wouldn’t be safe to leave him.
Seeing my son so upset is heartbreaking. The older he gets, the worse things are as he should, in theory, be getting better at dealing with things but, he isn’t. The reactions that you get from him are that of a much younger child, totally inappropriate for someone of his age.
It’s strange, with ASD, less is more. You plan and structure your day. Rules are in place to make your life work. This is how we had been living. But, it wasn’t working because of the PDA. It’s really strange to have to be giving more detail and explanation. Whereas with ASD you keep things simple and are fairly direct, the lack of explanation can come across as an unreasonable demand in the world of PDA. The PDA Society has a great page on family strategies which we have found invaluable. If you would like to take a look, click here to be taken there.
What has the rest of the day got in store? I have absolutely no idea. I had a huge list of things that I wanted to get done but now, I’m already mentally exhausted. My plan for the day has gone so wrong that I really don’t know what to do. I am now feeling like a complete failure which, I know, isn’t true but, it’s just how I feel.
I’m currently reducing the antidepressants that I’m on to enable me to swap to a different one. I didn’t think that the current ones were working. My emotions were still all over the place and I was feeling out of control. A situation that made it virtually impossible to help my son. Now that I’m only on half the dose, it is painfully obvious just how much they were actually doing. I don’t like medication but it is a necessary evil. The stress and strains of the last few years has finally caught up with me.
Curve balls have become a regular occurrence in our house.
Ok, I really can’t put the day off any longer. To all the parents out there dealing with ASD and PDA, you really are not alone. Keep going and, remember, you are totally awesome.