I Broke: I'll Never Forgive Myself for Hitting My Autistic Son
By Alexis Magnusson on September 14, 2012
I'm on the floor of the bathroom with my fingers in my ears. I'm not sure it was even necessary as I wouldn't be able to hear the cries of my child over the cries of my own. I'm crying so hard that my body has started to shake with exhaustion, and I'm sweaty from the exertion.
In the other room Casey screams from his car seat that I ripped from the car to buckle him in because I did not know what else to do. He's safe. Safe from himself, and so much worse, safe from me.
I hit him. I hit my six-year-old autistic son.
This was two years ago. It had never happened before and it has never happened since (and I feel a need to explain that it was opened handed and did not leave a mark... but it was so beyond wrong). I can give you every reason as to what brought me to this point: I hadn't slept for days because Abby had pneumonia, that this had been the third day in a row that I had to pick up Casey early from school because he was "a danger to himself and the other children in the classroom" and there was "nothing more they can do," or that he had been screaming at that point for three hours, and in that time, he had bitten, kicked, punched, and thrown chairs and shoes at me and both of his brothers -- and was then threatening to hurt his baby sister. But you know what? Nothing I can say could justify my actions there. I didn't hit the school, the pneumonia, or the the part of his autism that makes him rage. I hit my son. My beautiful boy.
It kills me to put this out in the public. It kills me to relive this day. My heart still aches at the thought of causing harm to my beautiful little boy. So then, why am I telling you this? Because I think this is a conversation that is important. We as parents of children with autism feel a need to be "super parents." I felt a need to fit myself into a mold that I thought a special needs parent should fit. I didn't ask for help because I was terrified of telling someone that I couldn't handle what was on my plate. I wanted to look the part, and even more so, I wanted to FEEL the part. I had a lot of people telling me how great I was based simply on the diagnoses of my children. I wanted to live up to what I thought I should be. In so doing, I had run myself ragged, was overwhelmed, overtired and pushed beyond my limit.
Parents of special needs kids are just simply parents. We aren't endowed by God with any super powers outside of those that "regular" parents have. I've always felt like I wasn't "allowed" to complain about even the regular things that happened with my special needs kids. I couldn't say that I was sick to death of potty training with Casey because I'd get that look that says, "You're not supposed to complain about your autistic son! He can't help it!" If regular parents can, why can't I? I've said it a lot that special kids don't go to special parents, and I am proof of this. I'm no better than any other parent with any other kid. I was trying to shove myself into an impossible mold that no real parent can fit in.
And then I broke the mold. (Yeah right. But I'm trying.)
After that incident I fully realized how not special I am. It was a tough lesson to find myself in a situation I had never even IMAGINED myself being in. The thought of hurting my kids had never even crossed my mind. I'm not that parent. It pushed me to the point where I knew I had to ask for help. I knew I could never get that far gone again, and so in the effort, I had to give up on being the person I thought I should be and just be a better version of who I am.
I like this:
I'm not saying getting good help is easy to find. That, my friends, is another battle completely.
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