Tuesday, February 22, 2011

A Difficult Day in the Life of My 18 Year Old Autistic Daughter

I first wrote this true story about one year ago my daughter is now 19.

I am sharing this in the hope of allowing people who have witnessed really bad behavior but have not experienced it firsthand, might be just a little more understanding of children and adults who are "different."

My daughter is now 18 years old and things have not improved, and in many ways are worse. Puberty and autism make for a really difficult transition.

My girl is high functioning but has a low IQ and still behaves on the level of a 5-year-old. She has an autism spectrum disorder and is unable to respond and behave in a way that an 18-year-old normally would.

Because she looks so 'normal' people do not understand her inability to respond and behave in a normal fashion. This causes many conflicts and embarrassments. People often greet her social shortcomings with disdain and frustration. I get many, many dirty looks, and head shaking when we are out in public. I so often hear the comment,she is old enough to be young lady-perhaps true of some, but she is still operating on the level of perhaps a 5-year-old. Now that is a scary, vulnerable combination.

She has no concept of the feelings of others. Her feelings, and emotions are topmost, center, and exclusive. If she is hot, she is hotter than anyone else, and it is unbearable, she lets everyone know about it. The same applies for being cold, tired, hungry, itchy, or if her clothes are just not feeling right.

The story I am about to share is true and is also very typical for her.

About a month ago, my girl, and my older adult daughter and her 2 boys (ages 2 and 3) went to the pharmacy to get a Prescription filled. When we turned in the prescription no one told me it would take an hour to fill. We would have left and come back. The first twenty minutes or so went pretty well, I had only been begged for about 30 items in the store. Each request was getting a bit louder and more demanding. But then she decided that she was hungry. And her complaints got louder and she got more distraught by the moment. She wanted everything on the shelf and said she would eat them cold, uncooked, she was so hungry.

She was actually drooling over the canned food section. Then she started looking under the chairs around the pharmacy waiting area, hoping to find some gum or something stuck to the chairs, she was starving, and everyone in the store knew it. It was a very hot day, actual temperature was 103 and the heat index was 110, so waiting outside was out of the question. She spent 35 minutes, non-stop complaining about her hunger and that the pharmacist was slow, didn't know what he was doing, was taking so long just to torture her and on and on. She got down on the floor and cried.She went to people in the store telling them that she was starving to death and that her mom didn't care. There was no way to quiet her down, or appease her. By the way the two little boys were sitting in the cart, they were fussing a little, but in no way were they disruptive to the degree that my girl was.

She had already been told that we were going the Chinese Restaurant and having the buffet when we finished here. I offered her a cheese cracker to tide her over. She refused the cracker.

Unfortunately this type of unacceptable behavior is more the norm than not. I know not to feed into her frenzy by talking or trying to convince her that things are not as bad as she 'knows' they are. I know that will only make an impossible situation even worse.

Putting up with her behavior, as bad as it is actually easier than dealing with the other people who are looking on. I know what I am dealing with, and I know the outcomes. Suggestions of locking her up, beating the tar out of her, or being told that a responsible parent would not tolerate such behavior is a lot more difficult. Now, after dealing with this for about 17 years I just smile, and don't even bother to explain. After all, if after all the noise and tantrums she has already caused a person doesn't realize that she is developmentally delayed, they will never understand what it means. There is no point in wasting my breath or energy trying to justify her behavior. Usually just a smile, and maybe a shrug of my shoulders is all the reaction others will get from me.

I am sure that all of you parents of children with similar problems understand the frustration, and know how exhausting dealing with our children is.

Hopefully some people who have not experienced this issue with their children will see the challenges through my eyes and next time they come across a situation as I have described will be just a little more tolerant and less quick to judge.

I know that not all developmentally children/teenagers behave in this way, but I also know that she is not the only one who does. I have done the best that I could, and I do care about her, and have taught her manners.

Patricia M. Hines invites you to visit her blog at http://luckyandhappyblog.com. To read more information about dealing with negative people http://luckyandhappyblog.com/2011/02/09/deal-difficult-people-tactfully/.

Article Source: http://EzineArticles.com/?expert=Patricia_M_Hines

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