I was asked recently what was the hardest part of Courtney’s autism. My friend and I were talking about the lack of connection in a lot of children with autism. She asked if that was the hardest part. I quickly answered yes. The more I think about it though, I think it changes based on the day.
We’ve hit a rough patch the past weekend a half. This week brought on many tears, biting, bruises and not much sleep. It was by far one of our hardest weeks in a long time. I haven’t figured out exactly she had such a tough week, but I think there were several factors. What was the hardest part of this week? Watching Courtney bite herself so hard and so often that she now has bruises on both wrists and both knees. (Side note…I wish Courtney could tell me why she is now choosing to bite her knees AND her toes?! Yep, her toes. Seriously, Courtney?!?! Why your toes?!?!?!)
Most 5 year olds have bumps and bruises. It’s the right of passage. It’s heart breaking to look at her bruises though knowing she did it to herself out of frustration. Moments of such intense frustration with no way to communicate except to bite herself. During these moments the only I can do is use a calming voice to remind her she’s ok and that I’m here to help. Then every time I see the bruises it reminds me of those moments and how helpless I felt.
So this week, it’s the biting that’s the hardest part of Courtney’s autism. It’s the not knowing why she’s frustrated, is she not feeling well, does something hurt, is she overwhelmed. It’s not knowing how to help her, it’s the hours upon hours of thinking in my head of ways to stop the behavior. It’s the wondering if someone will look at her wrists and question if someone is grabbing her too tight. It’s the pondering of why the darn toes! This week, the worst part of her autism has left me emotionally drained. But next week, it will probably be something different.
And just a little glimpse of her poor little arms and knees…