The weather battering NSW this week mirrors my current state of mind. I have been wet with tears, wild with frustration, grey with despair and buffeted by stress. I have had an ongoing headache for the last two days and have been operating on broken sleep thanks to all three of my thoughtful, angelic cherubs. It has been a tough week for me, both emotionally and physically.
It all began on Sunday with my son waking up swearing, anxious and worried about the imminent return to school. It didn’t help that his sister wasn’t due to go back until Tuesday either, as she kept helpfully reminding him…!
The first day was rough for him, but we expected that. He always struggles getting back into the swing of routine after a break but his strength lies in his ability to, eventually, adapt. The second day was better, with significantly reduced resistance and anxiety and, today, he was pretty well back to normal. Hooray!
Meanwhile my eldest daughter began the week literally pooing her pants on the morning of her return to school. She has been having all sorts of toileting trouble lately – I’m not sure whether it’s related to sensory issues, inattention, laziness or anxiety. There has been lots going on where Miss 5 is concerned and I’m getting to my wits end trying to deal with it all.
She is still suffering severe separation anxiety each morning and the only way I can leave her is to have a teacher or teacher’s aide take her for me. Her obvious fear and unhappiness on Tuesday morning brought me to tears and I spent my whole commute sobbing in worry, confusion and frustration.
I worried about her all day and returned in the afternoon to find she had been aggressive to others, had scribbled over another classmate’s work and had told them “I’ll kill you”. I was stunned when the teacher recounted this to me.
This is not an accurate description of my beautiful, dramatic, kind-hearted, sensitive daughter. Why would she say this? How could she be described as “aggressive”?
Her teacher has previously expressed concerns about my daughter’s social skills and her inability to make any close friends so far. She has told me my daughter can’t take criticism, is bossy and hides under the table when in trouble or in the wrong.
She is excelling academically and is actually operating about a year above her age. However she is still very immature when it comes to controlling and expressing her emotions and is having trouble initiating and maintaining regular social interactions.
I have written about our earlier concerns for our daughter here. If you had have told me last year that she might possibly be on the autism spectrum I would have laughed it off. But now, I’m not so sure.
Miss 5’s teacher has filled in an autism questionnaire which strongly suggests that she may be somewhere on the spectrum. The checklist for girls that can be found on Sue Larkey’s website also makes my stomach churn with fear for my darling girl as it seems to describe her in excruciating detail.
Thank God our long-awaited appointment with the pediatrician is only a week away now – it may not bring us immediate answers but I am hoping for some further direction. The worry, the fear, the stress of knowing something is wrong but not being able to help her is slowly eating away at me.
I hate seeing her upset and anxious but what I hate the most is that I can’t do a single damn thing about it. That helplessness is keeping me up at night and bringing me to tears in the day. I just want to help my girl and banish the fear from her eyes and bring back her natural exuberance and joy.
I can’t end this post on such a low note so I will leave you with the highlight of our week so far. My father-in-law and my son were featured in the Newcastle Herald this week. My father-in-law is flying out on Saturday to walk the Kokoda Track to raise awareness and funds for autism. The article featured a lovely photo of the two of them walking together in the bush.
Please take the time to check out Step Up 4 Autism, spread the word and show my father-in-law some support. He is about to embark on the hardest challenge of his life and I am so very grateful to him for doing this for our son, our nephew and for everyone else affected by an autism spectrum disorder. I wish him well on his trek!