Eddie has been a child of few words his whole life. When he did begin talking, he used mostly echolalia, which means he repeated what he heard. This didn’t mean just copying words; but intonation, pauses, and even pitches. He still talks mostly this way, but will state phrases taught to him for certain situations instead of copying things he heard at random.
This weekend, I was able to witness a bit more language that tore at my heart-strings. A good friend of mine and I headed out on a road trip to visit a mutual friend. We loaded up the car with all our kids (five in total), and headed to a neighboring state. The kids all did great in the car, and really all weekend. However, travelling in such a crowd had Eddie a little bit on edge.
He was quick to be upset and was basically attached to my hip for three days. He slept very little, and his fuse was very short. The kids that were with us were curious about Eddie, so often crowded his personal space. They also were playing loudly from time-to-time, which Eddie didn’t really like. Honestly, he was like a grumpy-old-man, insisting on quiet, peace, and certainly no fun.
Sadly, when Eddie has an outburst, he often lashes out physically to pinch, hit, and sometimes bite himself or others. I suffered some battle scars that brought us both to tears. Not only do his outbursts physically hurt, but they hurt emotionally because we never want our children to hurt us. I want him to know how much I love him and care for him, so he doesn’t have any reason to hurt me. However, when it comes to Eddie, there is no “reason” involved.
Due to being autistic, he simply cannot “cope” sometimes and doesn’t know how to handle it, so he strikes out angrily. I try to just help him find the light at the end of the tunnel of rage he can fall into. Usually he falls apart, and then will want to be hugged while his sobs become a whimper. I hold him until the world is right with him again, and often he will then take a deep breath and move forward in his day.
This weekend, after the anger, and the sobs, and the quiet whimpers, he also found his words. Without prompts and without hearing me say it first, he quietly said, “I’m sorry.” All I could say was, “I know.” Now that he is learning that he hurts others and himself, he is apologizing for what he can’t control.
I know, Eddie. I know, you’re sorry, and so am I. I’m sorry that you have to face those demons every day. No matter how often I get hurt, or worse, you hurt yourself, I’m never going to blame you. Instead, I’m going to continue finding ways to avoid the meltdowns whenever possible, and bring ever more peace to your life.