Looking back, there were signs. Not only that, but a larger pattern was recognizable too. I might have seen it coming, but I didn't.
I suppose I've just been enjoying how well everything has been going. School has been going well. Swimming classes had gone so well. Much of our life has become typical, or seemed so. That's not to say I'd ever get to the point that I'd think C.S. was "cured of Autism." I fully accept his is a life long condition. But I had begun to question whether being so open about his autism diagnosis with every one I met was necessary any longer. Just today another mother picking up at the school remarked to me that my son was "so great with people."
Last night, a category 5 meltdown hit us blindside.
While shaken by his screaming, his fury and his obviously overwhelming emotions — we dealt with it, with the old familiar ways. My husband and I remained surprisingly calm about it all, on the surface anyway.
And today, C.S. is once again a happy, charming, perfectly elated 9-yr old boy that most the time seems like any other. One might never imagine the screaming fury that can and did overtake him last night. It will echo for a long time in me. Especially his words. Last night, he said, "I feel like I want to kill myself."
This sentiment grew from a horrible 2nd grade school year during which time he experienced bullying and which I know was a direct result of him having lost services. The deep depression he encountered, his escalating feelings of atypicality, his words — this is why I sought to embrace his autism diagnosis in the first place. It was his diagnosis that enabled me to reinstate services, find a support group for myself, find countless resources and information, and got us to this point of feeling almost typical. Embracing autism is what made all the difference.
I suppose this is why at pick up today, when the mother remarked that my son was "so great with people," I replied, "Well, he loves people. But actually he's not great with people. He's on the Autism Spectrum so he actually has a lot of social difficulties, with his peers anyway. But he's great with adults."
Silver Lining: My son IS "great with people" or can be. Actually, most adults we have encountered don't recognize anything that seems atypical about our son. If they do, they are usually first charmed by his quirks and it takes a good long while to notice a down side. This of course is no accident. I'm going to go ahead and take credit that all was made possible by the services and therapies and knowledge we've gained and employed after accepting Autism. I don't push Autism out there because it's some sort of medical fad or trend, not to gain sympathy or attention, but for understanding. I'm proud of all we have accomplished. And, as I was reminded yesterday, I'll need to remain vigilant, I need to hold onto it. We'll be adopting and adapting strategies for his entire life.