The Autistic Mind

William studying a shell intently

The autistic mind can prevent you from switching off, particularly when it comes to my son. I was doing school drop off (It was William’s last day of school for term 3) 
William was happy as per usual in the car. He loves the car and he loves school, so everything was fine at that point. His brother Ryder was also with us.

We park the car; I undo our seatbelts. I walk around to open the door for the boys to get out. William and Ryder get out of the car. William usually shuts the car door. I always let him do it. It’s like his last little bit of the puzzle telling his mind he’s out of the car, and now it’s time to move on to the next thing. This particular morning Ryder shut the door and I honestly didn’t think anything of it.

As we started walking towards the school gates, William became very distressed and was screaming that he was the one that was supposed to shut the door. We were nearly at his classroom and I was trying to take his mind off the fact that he didn’t shut it. I was trying to calm him down. A meltdown was approaching.

Strawberry Milkshake Time
In these situations, you do whatever you can. It’s like you need to ride the wave of emotions, but also be aware that you can’t give in all the time. I believe that sometimes I need to break this cycle that he gets into. It’s not helping anyone, and as much as it plays on his mind, I can’t let these obsessive, repetitive actions rule his day.

And did it play on his mind? Well, I didn’t think so.… until we got to 9pm that night.

There had been no mention of it at school, no mention when we got home from school, none at bedtime routine, and then finally he was asleep.

Around 9 pm that night, William came running downstairs to tell me that he didn’t shut the car door that morning. That he must do it now. He had to do it. He had fallen asleep and woken up to this thought.

Kinder timeThis thought that he simply couldn’t shake. This obsession in his head that he struggled to switch off. It was there and not going away, and he wouldn’t have been able to sleep until he shut the door.

So…. Down the stairs he came, out to the garage, opened the car door, re- enacted that morning’s scenario and shut the door. He was happy. He was relieved. He was content.

I really feel for my little guy, and I’d love to know what it feels like when these situations play tricks on his little mind. I can see the struggle, frustration, and confusion when I don’t allow him to go back and do what his mind is telling him to do. I have to be careful that I don’t allow this to happen all the time, it’s not helping him going forward, but then there are times that I also let him go back and re-live what he "thinks" needs to happen.

It’s hard to watch and at the same time, fascinating. It breaks my heart but also makes me relieved when I see him complete that task.

William and Julia at home
I see these obsessive, repetitive occurrences becoming harder as he gets older, but I will do everything I can to help guide him through every situation the best way I know-how.

I don’t get it right all the time, I’m still learning as I go, but I know I have one amazing little man that is so very smart, and who I’m unbelievably proud to call mine. Who knows, he may just be the one that helps me get through these situations as time goes on.

In time, he will be able to explain it to me and help me understand what that overwhelming urge feels like. Until then, we will try and work through it together. xx

Julia Ryan
William Ready.

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