Today’s author has asked to remain anonymous because she feels as if she’ll be judged. Facebook and life confirm that she likely might be, and that just sucks. Because what’s happening in her home and in her life is NOT HER FAULT.
We know other parents feel the same, and that talking about suffering abuse from your child comes with stigma and judgment. Which, when it comes to children with special needs, especially those with severe non-verbal autism, isn’t fair. Today’s author is not alone. So many families suffer in silence and there’s not enough help or resources for them.
There needs to be help for them!
*end editor’s note*
I chose a long-sleeved top to wear once again to cover the bruises and the scratches. Too many questions, raised eyebrows and stares to risk showing my bare arms again.
I was attacked again yesterday; so was my daughter.
We were screamed at, clawed at, and scratched. Last week my daughter went to school with a black eye. There was no hiding from it that time.
There are times during the day I am scared; scared to say the wrong thing, scared to open the blinds or the front door, scared to leave the room.
Some of his triggers I know, some I don’t. He is unpredictable, strong, loud, intimidating and aggressive if things don’t go his way.
One minute he is sitting quiet the next he erupts.
No-one wants to be the cause of the next outburst so we walk about in silence sometimes, doing whatever it takes to keep him happy.
Then it happens. Something we had no control of or even knowledge of but we are the ones facing the brunt of the explosion.
Things are thrown, chairs overturned, doors slammed. Glasses are broken into tiny pieces in an instant, like the fragments of my heart.
I watch my daughter tremble as I am dragged across the room and, on this occasion, even outside.
He wouldn’t let me back in for hours. I paced the street behind him begging him to come inside, telling him it was ok and we will sort this out; desperately trying to calm him down for his sake, my sake and my daughter’s.
Then it flipped back. The cause of the issue resolved in an instant and bang, we are back to happy in the house like the whole thing was just imagined.
He can forget. We can’t.
He won’t talk about it. He can’t. When it’s over, it’s over, end of.
But for us it isn’t.
I have had enough. The next morning I set about calling for help. I searched the Internet for helplines, advice pages, charities and support.
I read sites through tears.
‘Who is doing this to you’ they ask, as the tone implies sympathy and compassion.
‘We want to help you’ they say.
‘You don’t need to live like this.’
‘We will get you moved to safety.’
“There is help” I hear myself cry!
They can make referrals for the person causing this, they can rehouse me and my daughter in a place of safety, we can access counseling and support.
They all assume it is my husband.
If it were my husband, there would be help and support available both immediately and longer term.
Then I tell them something no-one wants to hear. There is silence at the end of the phone followed by a whispered, “sorry, in that case there is nothing we can do.”
This is a young boy. This is severe non-verbal autism. The cause of the dragging me around the streets was that a neighbor had a door open.
He can’t cope. He is scared. He doesn’t understand. He needs help. His only way of coping is to have a meltdown.
What if it was my husband doing this? Well there would be so much more help available, so many wonderful charities and groups ready to come to our rescue but when I tell them it is a child, my son, and that he has autism…
I will be criticized for talking about this. I will be blamed for not being able to control my own child. I am breaking a major taboo in writing this.
It has to be talked about. Too many are struggling alone. We are one of the few now getting some support. Don’t suffer alone. Let’s stop the silence about living with children with challenging behavior now.