Bottled up.

It is quite common for children with Autism to have a meltdown after school.
They have spent the whole day holding in their emotions.
The whole day appearing to cope in the classroom full of anxieties.
Many children with Autism do not display the body language and facial expressions to show how they are feeling.
Those feelings are kept locked inside until they reach their safe place; home, and those feelings explode.
Meltdown.

My girl fits this description.
She is a whole different person a school than she is at home.
Not because she chooses to be, not because the triggers for the meltdowns are at home.
It is simply because home is her safe place.
She feels able to let it all out.

Asking my girl if she is ok will not provoke the same response as you or I would give.
The question is too difficult for her, it has too many concepts for her to understand and process.
She cannot explain her emotions appropriately, spoken communication is hard for her.
Asking her if she is ok is stressful for her.

My girl has a great deal of sensory difficulties.
She was diagnosed with Sensory Processing Disorder before we got her Autism diagnosis.
Sensory problems are not uncommon for people on the spectrum.
Many people on the spectrum have difficulty in processing everyday sensory information.
These sensory problems can affect behaviour, in the same way as not understand the emotions they are feeling.

A ‘problem’ my girl has is her extremely high tolerance to pain.
Along with that she has no desire to communicate her pain to anyone other than me.
In the same way she bottles up her emotions, she bottles up her pain.
A double whammy of pent up feelings to expel when she gets home.

Yesterday at school, in a PE lesson, she fell and hurt her leg.
She was helped off the ground and asked if she was ok.
She said she was.
Whilst getting changed she was asked again.
Again she said she was fine.
She carried on at school like normal.
I arrived at hometime and was told she had fallen but she was ok.
She wasn’t. Her face told me she wasn’t.
I know when my girl is hurt or sore, she has a look…..so subtle that I couldn’t describe to you.

When we arrived home and I got her changed I saw why she was sore.
Her shin was swollen and purple.
It must have been so painful, anyone who has ever been kicked in the shin will sympathise.
She didn’t cry, she didn’t tell a teacher.
She has bruises from top to bottom of her shin.

What worries me is that one day she will seriously hurt herself and no one will realise.
No matter how much we reiterate the importance of reporting an injury or dislocation, she just doesn’t understand.

If she can’t communicate her emotions, if she doesn’t understand her emotions, if she can’t communicate pain, if she doesn’t understand pain then there is no wonder meltdowns are so frequent in term times.
There is no wonder she doesn’t want to go to school.

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