By Nicolette Anderson
For Liam, chaos is everywhere. For our family, chaos arises every day.
In the middle of our home, while we sit to eat dinner, watch television, or get ready for bed, Liam begins to scream. Sometimes we can figure out what caused it; the worst days are when we cannot. Liam will begin to scream, then he will throw himself to the ground. He proceeds to pick up objects to throw them. If you get too close, he will hit, kick, and scratch you; only once have I been bitten.
I can’t imagine what horrible anxiety and frustration he must be feeling to act out in such a way.
As Liam’s mom, I feel paralyzed when I am unable to comfort and console my own child. This is what Liam goes through every day at home, so just imagine the chaos he goes through when we are out.
Out, where he is not able to maintain control of the situation, where he is forced out of his capability to maintain his rigid routines and out of his comfort zone completely. You may know what this looks like. You may have seen us once or twice. You may have even stopped to stare a moment, or to whisper to your partner about what you saw. You may have had to duck quickly, and you may have even tried to offer some ideas of your own, kind or otherwise.
Out, for our family, is what Liam’s therapists refer to as “survival mode”. When people hear Autism, they see and think about these very struggles I have described. There is so much more to it; there is so much more to Liam.
In the midst of chaos, he is able to find peace.
He finds peace in a crowded, over-packed room by looking at trains, by finding one game in a busy arcade that he can focus on, by unlatching and re-latching his stroller tray during a fair, and by finding the one quiet room in a crowded home during a birthday party and staring at the fan. Liam will use his favorite blanket to cover his head, or he may drive his head into mom, dad, or sisters for cover and pressure.
“Liam’s Peace” – Original Painting by Brett Colonell, The Paralyzed Painter
Liam is full of love and enjoys so many things.
He has a laugh that is contagious and a personality that is silly, sweet, and brings joy to a room. He is beautiful and gains a great deal of attention with his beautiful, big, brown eyes. He is incredibly talented in his ability to remember things, and if you were to hear him speak, count, recall shapes, colors, and the English and Spanish alphabets, you would not begin to believe he has significant developmental delays.
Liam’s journey through Autism has merely just begun. In just three short months, Liam has shown so much progress in finding his inner peace through learning to self-sooth. Because Liam was diagnosed so early, he has already come so far.
As Liam’s mom, I wish I could provide him comfort by embracing him, picking him up and hugging him, and just holding him close until he calms like I did with my girls. I usually cannot do this for Liam; I may never be able to. All I can do is provide him the tools to find his own peace in the midst of all of this chaos.
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