If You Can’t Look at a Meltdown With a Sense of Humor Sometimes, You’ll Never Make It

You’ve heard about meltdowns before but just to make sure you fully get it, I thought I’d be a bit more descriptive. Here goes because tonight has been difficult.

A typical visit to the shopping center and, for example, I cough unexpectedly. He’s pre-meltstrual.

Stage 1 – Pre-meltstrual

This is bit where Reilly is starting to show signs he’s not happy.  He becomes disinterested in EVERYTHING and growls at me and others.

Must be watched carefully for knocking things of shelves. We can’t afford to start bartering over breakages and have got to move fast.

Stage 2 – Can’t touch this

As if by magic, he turns into a slippery little eel and it’s nearly impossible to keep hold of his hand, hood, arm, trousers, etc. For his own safety, you must hang on like a rodeo cowboy. He’ll run in front of cars, people, get on a bus (this has happened). I usually drop bags, money, bank cards, and more in the process.  My temperature raises by a couple of degrees and I need to take my coat off.  At this point, I’ve sworn in my head a few times.

Stage 3 – Puppet on a string

Trying to transport a child from A to B when his legs aren’t working is hard.  Especially now that you’ve added your coat  to the list of things you are carrying.  It’s like someones put a Tom and Jerry magnet in his pocket and it’s attracted to the floor.

I take this opportunity for a breather and stand over him like the Colossus of Rhodes.  It’s at this point I notice the first stream of Tutters – those judgmental bastards who’ve never done anything wrong in their lives. Nor have their kids or grandkids. Angels.  They sweep past watching you over their shoulders while discussing with a friend how sh!t you must be as a mother. Up yours.

Mom’s face when a stranger suggests “Smack His Arse” during son’s Autism Meltdown

Stage 4 – Shaddap your face

Reilly can’t talk but I bet he could smash a glass with his wailing – like a banshee.  Red faced, snotty and sweaty still on the floor.  Queue more admiring glances from passers by with the odd “smack his arse” comment just audible above the racket. These people sometimes get shown the middle finger or are quite simply told to f*ck off or I will smack you.

I’m usually on the verge of a panic attack by this point.

Stage 5 – I can’t stand up for falling down

I’ve accepted that we cannot stand here all day, have mastered my bitch face, and am getting him out of there by any means necessary.  Over-the-shoulder would be good, but he’s getting too heavy for that. So I stand him up, he crumples back to the floor making sure he hurts his knees and hands in the process. We continue this until we get outside, up and down like a little angry frog.  People should know at this point that catching my glance will equal Medusa’s stare and they’d be wise to jog on.

At this point, sometimes I’ll check in with someone who knows, who’s been there. They give me that understanding Deidre Barlow face and it lifts my spirits momentarily.  Enough to regain some composure and carry on with our day.

This meltdown cannot be bought off with a new toy, an ice cream or a trip to Disneyland Paris. It can last up to an hour, and they’re exhausting for us both.  There’s no negotiating and I do not know if my cough feels like nails across a blackboard or thorns sticking in his ears.  It’s tragic and stressful, and I hate it.  I hate myself for losing my cool with him (not always, but I’m human). I do not hate myself for swearing at Judge Judys though. To avoid my wrath, don’t stare at us, don’t comment, don’t judge.  It’s hard enough.

Get me a taxi or a diazepam – preferably both – and I’ll be forever grateful.
Mom’s face when a stranger suggests “Smack His Arse” during son’s Autism Meltdown


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