Half of this damn blog is about the stress of autism.
Since the day he was born sleeping has been a challenge. Eating is hard. The list goes on. I know that as a family we walk on egg shells to avoid meltdowns. We give in when we shouldn’t. We allow behaviors we shouldn’t. Candy and suckers and bribes are used more than they should be. We are at the mercy of autism.
Cooper throws. He lashes out. He ignores. He gives very little to zero love and attention.
Sawyer is feeling it. I can tell. His daycare provider pulled me aside this morning and asked if there were any stressors at home. She’s been noticing how off Sawyer is lately.
My stomach dropped.
Sawyer has developed a stutter in the last couple of weeks. He’s not sleeping well. And he is very, very, very emotional. Please note that I could actually add 20 ‘verys’ to that sentence.
The first thing I did was blame myself. I could get off my phone more. I could play more.
But no matter how I cut it…or analyze it…or overthink it….living with Cooper is really stressful.
It’s changed all of us.
I’ve caught myself saying things like…’Sawyer, you need to be a bigger boy. Your brother doesn’t understand. You need to be more patient.’ And the list goes on.
I’ve made him walk so I can carry Cooper. He often has to leave events because his brother can’t handle it. And while he doesn’t know it yet…he misses out on so many things because of Cooper.
Cooper’s autism controls our lives. And I’ve given into that a long time ago. And now Sawyer is feeling it.
But, Sawyer is 2. He’s only 2. He’s just a little boy. And he doesn’t understand why his brother doesn’t talk or play with him. Or why Cooper is so unbelievably rammy. Every day, I’m not joking, Sawyer gets an injury from ‘playing’ with his brother. It’s usually a fat lip. Cooper will be tearing apart his bed and wrestling in the sheets. Sawyer will try to join and get a kick or a head to the face.
Or Cooper throws something at us. Everyone in our family has been victim to Cooper’s throwing. It’s dangerous. He will throw a rock or a cup or a toy. It doesn’t matter. And whatever is in his wake is going to get taken out.
These behaviors are stressful.
Sawyer loves attention. And kids. And playing. I’ve observed him at parks or stores. He tries to join other families. I’m not joking. He sees a kid and he runs right over. The kid could be age one or age eleven. Sawyer tries to be with him.
And what am I doing while Sawyer is picking out his new family? I am helicoptering Cooper. Chasing Cooper like a maniac and sweating. Dealing with a meltdown. Changing a poop diaper. Holding a 50 lb sack of limp potatoes.
I think Sawyer is lonely. When he should be playing with his brother he is trying to play with Jamie or I. I believe he has learned to mimic Cooper’s lack of play. There are times when he will avoid talking and whine like Cooper. He sees the attention that autism brings. And he wants more of it.
Sawyer gets very little attention that he doesn’t demand.
I seriously feel like a failure.
How do I give a normal life to Sawyer when our home life is far from typical?
It’s the million dollar question. And I don’t have an answer for it.
I’m going to start by keeping sawyer up a little later than Cooper at night. We can read together and snuggle. I am also going to focus more on mealtime. Dinners are very stressful with Cooper. I forget that Sawyer needs that normalcy. And lastly, Sawyer and I are going to have a date once a week. We are going to do things that we can’t with an autistic brother.
Here is my horrible, awful, thing you shouldn’t say. I feel like parts (I said parts) of autism have wrecked our lives. (I can debate that all you want.) Cooper is an amazing child but he is very, very challenging. I am going to work my hardest to prevent those hard parts from impacting Sawyer.
I have two children…not just an autistic child. I can’t forget that.