Another quick lesson for you guys. When you have rules, stick to them. I have a “No flame wars” rule for online interactions. Some of the hardest ones I have are actually with fellow autism activists. It’s not often, but I see people laying into parents who are just uninformed and need someone being kind to them to help them understand what it is to be autistic, and that injustice rage starts to boil. I can’t stand bullies, even when they are technically in my own advocacy group.
I saw one such parent, tried to help her. Tried to be kind to the other advocates. They kept picking at me, then finally accused me of being a child abuser, and my conflict anxiety boiled over and I hit a wall in my attempts to communicate.
First, I threw up. Next, I started bawling. Then my hands went numb, and I lost all ability to speak. I tried to message my counselor but I couldn’t see because I was about to pass out from hyperventilation.
This is called a meltdown.
Lights became painful, noise became unbearable, the world closed in on me and I could feel everything. I made my way slowly to my pills in my medicine cabinet, and took a klonopin (my doctor calls them emergency emotional pain pills.) Slowly, I went back to something more like “normal.”
I wrote down what was happening to my husband (remember, I had lost all ability to speak. That lasts a little while.) And he suggested that I give facebook a rest for the night. I agreed.
This is all physical. I perfectly understand the perspective of those advocates. I understand why they feel the way they feel and I am compassionate to their cause. But they so needlessly pushed a person that they claimed to be supporting into a meltdown by bullying and refusing to listen.
Now, having said that, my meltdown is still not on them. I have to use the tools that I have learned to try and regulate my emotions so that doesn’t happen. I made two big mistakes in my estimation.
#1. I’m sick. I shouldn’t have tried to make any kind of controversial fight while I’m sick, especially with something as rough as COVID-19. And as controversial as ABA therapy.
#2. I can’t control what other people do, only how I respond to them. I wasn’t going to change those women. After all, no matter how clumsy it was, they thought they were doing righteous work. They thought they were educating me, despite my already extensive knowledge on the subject. And there is merit to the argument that ABA is harmful. They weren’t doing a great job being persuasive, or kind, but at least they weren’t peddling nonsense.
I have to respect my own boundaries. I don’t have the privilege of being careless with my anger, because it will destroy me. That is apart of being the kind of person that I am. Autism has wonderful strengths, but it also comes with rigid constraints and repercussions.
Mostly, I’m just worried about the fever my husband just spiked. I don’t know what we’ll do if we both have coronavirus at the same time. Our sweet four year old won’t understand why his Mommy and Daddy can’t hold him. And no one else can come to our aid with the quarantine in effect.
It won’t matter if I made my point to strangers then, because he still won’t understand.
The point I’m making to you, reader, is we like rules for a reason. Stick to the rules. And be kind. Please, be kind.
That and don’t let the only healthy caretaker of your child too close to you, even if he is your husband. Stick to the rules.