Wanting to live like normal families do is a concept you never quite give up on. Even though you know it won’t happen, you still think it will. You wake up on a gorgeous warm day and think “let’s take the kids to the park today”. It’s like somehow over night you forgot that doing something that simple is not with autism.
Heading out to Sunday morning breakfast isn’t the treat it should be. Your child comes out of their room dressed in pants and long sleeves. It’s 85 degrees out. You try to gently suggest changing because it’s too hot to wear that. He protests the suggestion and does not want to change at all. He does not care if he is hot or sweaty. He doesn’t want to endure the feeling of putting different fabrics on his skin again today. You grab some shorts and a shirt and throw it in the car in case he decides to change later. You tell him we are going for breakfast and this starts a tantrum. You tell him we are going anyway because simply giving in every time is not the answer. And you’ll never leave the house ever if you do that.
You have a child melting down in the backseat as if going to get eggs is torture. You arrive at the restaurant, get seated and your child shrinks into a ball in the bench. He’s recoiling at the site of the napkins and covering his ears at the noise of conversation in the back ground.
Here we go again. We will have to try to endure another foiled attempt to a Sunday morning family breakfast. You try to encourage him to look at the menu, you suggest foods you know he likes. He scowls and grimaces at you. He refused to eat anything or order anything. You decline the server’s repeated offer to get him something. He doesn’t want anything. Even chocolate cake or ice cream. You wonder to yourself, “what kind of child would refuse cake for breakfast?”. You are puzzled and try to understand why things are so miserable for him, but you don’t get it.
During our meal conversation we mention going shopping for some new clothing for him. He doesn’t have much in his summer drawer that fits anymore. He scowls again. More grumbling. He hates the store too. We wrap up our meal knowing he will be hungry later because he ate nothing.
In the car he continues to moan and grumble and fuss about wanting to go home. He does not want to leave home at all, not ever. You feel trapped there after all these years of small outings being a huge disaster. There is more arguing in the car and tantrums. Your heart sinks because once again your child is failing to hack in the real world. Once again you will be forced to go home because he cannot handle going to the store today.
By this time you and your husband are frustrated and tired. You scrap the idea of going to get him shorts. You had planned to take him to the playground after but there’s no point now. He has ruined the day with this whining, tantrums and complaining about everything.
You feel helpless because despite all your efforts nothing you do seems to comfort or appease this child. Nothing make him happy. Everything is difficult or over stimulating or confusing. His world is a kaleidoscope of aggravations.