Unseen Struggles: A Mother’s Tale of Parenting an Autistic Child – Finding Cooper’s Voice

There have been a lot of ups and downs during this autism life. The highs are so high and the lows are so low. This causes a lot of emotional turmoil within.

There have been some really hard times throughout my autistic daughter, Alyssa’s life. The grief period after diagnosis is devastating. The realization that this is the rest of her life. Seeing all the other kids develop and realizing how behind she is, and where she should be, and although that’s not her path, it doesn’t make it any easier on my heart.

Watching her struggle with anxiety. The self-injury.

These times have always been really hard for me. But I do whatever I can to get through. My love for my daughter, the hope I carry in my heart always pushes me forward. Her smile, her laughter is what I draw my strength from.

Maintaining a marriage, and mothering other children along with all the other bombs life throws at you on top of this can be defeating and leave you mentally and physically exhausted.

My lowest point as a mom was when Alyssa was 12 years old.

My other kids were 14, 6, and 4. Alyssa was going through a phase of aggression that seemed to come out of nowhere. She had been aggressive in the past but not in a long time, with the exception of minor incidents here and there.

The difference now though was her size. I could no longer scoop her up the way I could when she was younger. Along with the aggression was terrible meltdowns, screaming, and not coping well with things.

This time her aggression turned towards her sisters. Every single day she was hurting them. Every time I turned around she was pushing, hitting, and pulling them down. The problem was she was so much bigger than them.

She was 12 and my youngest was 4, that is a huge size difference. She can easily hurt them even just pushing them. When she would lash out it would be so quick and so fierce you didn’t even see it coming.

It was becoming unsafe in my home for my daughters and I didn’t know what to do.

I didn’t want to tell anyone because I was afraid to. I knew people wouldn’t understand. How could they, we didn’t? I know she didn’t understand what she was doing. I didn’t want to have her looked at in a bad light. I needed to protect her too.

One day she was trying to hurt her sisters and they were instructed to go in my room and lock the door behind them … 4 and 6 years old. This was becoming common practice.

She was so fixated on trying to get them she tried to kick through the door. The door actually splintered. I somehow got her into her room and pushed her in and shut the door.

I sat on the floor with tears pouring down my face as I held her door knob to keep her from leaving her room, listening to her scream and flop, while her sisters cried behind a locked door down the hall.

I didn’t know what to do anymore.

I couldn’t keep doing this. In the corner of my mind, I thought she might need to go somewhere. The thought of that brought my tears even faster and took my breath away. I wanted to call my husband but I couldn’t even let go of the doorknob because she kept trying to pull it from the other side.

That thought riddled me with guilt. I had gone through a lot and my heart has taken so much.

But to be away from her I don’t think my heart could take that. I vowed to love and protect her no matter what. But my young daughters needed protection too. All it would take is a push at the wrong place and they could be seriously hurt. Something had to be done. I reached out to her school.

Her speech therapist made social stories and did home visits to help. A caseworker from an agency that helps with disabilities came out to evaluate, they usually only take the more severe cases under 18 and it’s difficult to get a slot. They were there 30 minutes and said you need help, and gave her a slot.

They worked with the school system to get a behaviorist in the home. Things didn’t turn around right away it took time. This period lasted almost 9 months altogether but with help we got through it.

It’s hard to reach out, it’s scary.

It’s also sometimes necessary. You’re not a failure, or a bad mom, or weak. Sometimes we just need a helping hand. For obvious reasons, I don’t have a lot of pictures from this time period. I found a few and one of my younger daughters together.

Written by Kimberly Mcisaac of Autism Adventures with Alyssa


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