Tantrums, autism and staying the course.

by Jennifer Dyer

I’m a hostage of anger. I told Rachel no. You would think the world is ending.

With Rachel’s autism, I never know what might set her off. But I have lived through enough fits that my chicken-hearted self does not want to engage in battles at all. Perhaps that is the problem. If my future self could tell my past self something, it would be to stand firm during the fits when she was little.

But I did stand through so many of them. When she didn’t want to get in the car for school, I repeatedly dragged her down the stairs, making sure I was the only one who got carpet burns. I stopped the car countless times to reattach her seat belt and/or her clothes. I held her at the local swimming pool during the screaming, agonizing, horrible ten minutes of hourly adult swim.

As I listen to her scream today, a deep need for sleep washes over me. I slump over, my hearing shutting down. She grabs me. I am limp. But she pulls again. She will not let me out of this fight.

A bubbling rage erupts under the drowsy defense. Hysterical laughter tries to release the pressure, but I can’t laugh either. I clamp my lips together and close my eyes. I cannot lose it. I cannot lose it.

She slams every door upstairs before running downstairs to slam the door to her “office” closet under the stairs. Slams it over and over. Kicks the wall. Pounds, bangs. Screams. She wants a reaction. She wants me to engage. I resist. I hold my breath. I want to sleep, no, I want to eat. No, even more, I want a drink, to take a mental vacation from the constant stress. But I cannot give into that. It is a temptation, one I must resist. One drink would be too many. I might never stop.

I pray I will live through this. I pray I will not explode. I beg for help. Maybe she needs a spanking, but I cannot give it to her. I am not certain of my self-control.

I try the methods taught to us by our therapists. She wants my attention, so I  keep my back to her. I take deep breaths, say nothing, don’t react. She sneaks around to get what I told her she could’t have. I have to correct her now. The battle starts again.

I can’t do this. I take solace in the piano, butchering Beethoven’s Moonlight Sonata, pounding the keys, at least the one bit I can remember. She runs to me, presses her hands over mine. I cannot escape, cannot stop this.

I keep playing, despite her hands covering the keys. I play Twinkle Twinkle Little Star, anything. Our dog runs circles around me, head low, tail tucked. The pack is in distress.

Yes. It is. Help me, Lord.

Rachel retreats again to the closet. God’s wisdom hits me. Get rid of what she is after. Go now.

I run. Hide it. Sprint back to the piano. Keep playing.

It takes another 30 minutes of playing, praying and waiting, but it ends.  The storm is passed.

I want to crawl into my bed. I feel as if gravity’s pull is twice as strong on my body, that I slog under water. But I have learned something, just as I do every time I live through a fit. I am stronger. I can do all things through Christ who lends me strength.(Philippians 4:13.)

With each storm I learn better to depend on the Lord. Pray. Seek solace in the Lord. Resist the temptations that constantly hail down on me. But I cannot resist on my own. During the moments when life is the hardest, I have to lean on the Lord. If I didn’t spend time daily learning God’s word and leaning on Him, I would rip apart at the seams when the storms come.

My point, dear friends? Hold onto the Lord, every day. Ask Him daily to carry you, so that when the tough times comes, you don’t have to fear God isn’t with you. He will already be carrying you.

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4 thoughts on “Tantrums, autism and staying the course.

  1. A very difficult time with your emotions so raw as a mom. Praise the Lord we have a God that we can turn to in times of need. Remember the insight you had of removing the object of her tantrum. This is tough love in mega doses. I pray for you and Rachel daily. Thanks for being her mom.

  2. Love this! You had me riveted, waiting to see what the outcome would be. It’s amazing how large and overwhelming it feels while standing in the midst of a trial. Then at the absolute breaking point – He shows up. . . Love the hiding and running back to the piano! Thanks for being so open with your internal thoughts! It helps me know mine aren’t so unusual!

    Hang in there friend – I do believe you’re quite amazing!

  3. I remember the faces at ladies Bible Study when I explained that my faith is lived out second by second. How do I respond to the butter painting, the books pulled off the shelf, the knocked over Christmas tree, the gum in the bathtub, the toys in the toilett…I think they had forgotten how immediate parenthood is like. Love this, God is there and He is strong.

  4. Thanks for the loving responses. And thanks for sharing that I am not the only one with crazy messes. Butter painting, Kristen. Wow. Never had that before. Yogurt painting, but no butter. Sounds like fun to do, not so much to clean up. Lol
    Hugs to you all!

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