How is the single autistic parent supposed to cope?

I tried therapy….many times.  The disconnect happens because the counselor has no frame of reference for my life.  Neither do any of the other people in our lives.  Not one of them understands the feelings incurred when you wake up covered in your 10 year old child’s feces and he’s laughing.   How is one supposed to process these emotions?  Maybe you had a dog who crapped all over the house, so you think you understand?  You CHOOSE to care for the dog, as you can CHOOSE to rehome it somewhere else or you CHOOSE to end it’s life.  You think that gives you the understanding of what I’ve gone through in just one 15 minute block of my life with this child – who I cannot just rehome or put down when I can no longer deal with the trouble.  I cannot put my son in a “kennel” when I have other things I need to do.  I cannot shut my son in the bathroom when company comes over, or better yet, just tie him out in the yard.

The second disconnect happens because no one can grasp the responsibility and obligation I’m under.  I don’t get a sick day.  I don’t get to sit down and enjoy a well prepared meal.  I don’t get to meet up with friends.  I don’t get to sleep.  The closest analogy would be imagine if your pet or child had cognitive abilities above most adults, the body of a preteen male beginning puberty, and was as helpless as a 2 year old.  Try as you might, you won’t wrap your brain around that.

Yeah – Progress….we cheer for progress….He didn’t punch his classmate today!  He didn’t shit on me today!  He didn’t escape today.  But that was that day.  Every day is a brand new day.  And you can only keep fired up on psychosomatic progress for so long until the sleep deprivation and exhaustion and starvation just wear you down.

So how am I supposed to deal with all these feelings and emotions.  I love my son.  I think that’s quite evident.  Should I spank him for it?  Of course you’re shaking your head. No – spanking him for not being toilet trained, even at 10 years old, is NOT a solution.   But what is?  Because he is incontinent, he cannot participate in any of the camps or programs for autistic children.  He doesn’t care.  I’ve tried reason.  I’ve tried M&M’s, I’ve tried every gimmick and game.  But I have to accept the fact that he’s gonna do this again….and again.

And then there’s the guilt.

The guilt that I cannot be a better friend – because if I take time out for friends, other things suffer – Because I took it easy yesterday because I was sick, no laundry got done.  No dishes were washed.  No food was cooked.  And today, we suffer for it.  And now, twice as exhausted, with twice as much laundry and dishes, I sit here looking around wondering why I can’t remember when I ate last.  I don’t have the energy to take care of myself – how on earth can I support anyone else.

The guilt that if I was a good enough parent, my son would be potty trained.  After all, everyone else potty trains their kids at 3 at the latest.  Any later, and you’re a bad parent.

The guilt that if I would quit being lazy, I could be managing to work a full time career AND live in a nice house and have a partner who wanted to be beside me.

The guilt for the times I just feel like running away and giving up.  The fact that I can’t allow myself more than a few naps here and there because when I do sleep, something horrible happens.

So here I sit.  Angry, Sad, feeling a little hopeless and helpless.  And what makes it worse, there really is NO ONE in the world who understands.




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Pearl Manhattan

Life interrupted - this space is changing - stay tuned

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