Max is my eldest son, second oldest overall. Him and his sister Emily have a different dad to the younger two. The dad wasn’t really interested in us until he had a heart scare a couple years ago then he started to take an interest- that’s led to problems between Em and her dad but they are both grown up they can sort it out between them.
Recently Max has been having a really hard time, his sound sensitivity has got worse and although we have him in a lovely placement now I suppose it’s hard for him to forget his college and last couple of years at school. He now works in a park that has a café and a “learning room” where he can (allegedly) learn to use a washing machine, learn to wash up, sweep and other household skills. He didn’t really take to that as he is a lazy little sod at times but as he loves being outdoors he does ground work- weeding and such like, cleans in the café, shops for stuff, gets to drink mugs of tea and has done sanding and paint stripping. He goes 4 days a week, five hours a day and has a 1-to-1 to support him. It was going well but I didn’t think about the summer holidays where there would be more children using the facilities, he doesn’t like squeaky children. A couple of week ago I had to go collect him at lunch as he had hit his head so hard during a meltdown he had made himself bleed. I picked him up and brought him home, made him a cup of tea and got a jigsaw out. He can’t talk except to make the odd request and every method of communication I’ve tried with him has failed as school and college never listened and never used it so there was no consistency. Starting from scratch now using PECS and Makaton but it will be a slow process. I called “work” and told him he was having a week off. The doctor had previously prescribed some anti anxiety meds (I hate giving out meds ) so I started him on a small dose of it, and ordered him some ear defenders.
He seems much calmer now and he has more control having the ear defenders and I have noticed he sits with the family a bit more- even when Popples is around (she is very squeaky). Anyway I’m writing this because I was talking to my husband about him the other day and I said that Max is one of the bravest people I know. He has no language and very limited ways of communicating but he will get up each morning and try to make the best of the day, even though the world is busy, which scares him; it’s noisy, which scares him and I can’t even imagine what it’s like to be in a world that makes no sense with no way of making yourself understood – I’m supposedly neuro typical and I find it difficult to navigate the world so how hard is it for him? He never refuses to try something (except food) and even though it’s hard for him to be around youngsters I remember all the times when Oliver or Popples have been babies or asleep on the sofa poorly and he has sat with them and protected them when I left the room. I would love to be in his for a few hours so I could know how best to help him, so I could see the boy I used to know, who was a joker and a daredevil and had a wicked sense of humour- mainly slapstick but still.
He gave me away at my wedding. I know mum expected me to ask my dad but who else except my gorgeous 22 year old son could have done it? It wasn’t a traditional walk down the aisle- we lurched and stopped for a flap half way down but who cares? He looked so smart in his 3 piece suit, all eyes on him but I had hold of him and he did so well. He smiled for some pictures, scowled in others, and I asked the photographer for every picture, I didn’t want them choosing what represented my family. People said to me that day “You must be so proud of him” and I replied “I’m always proud of him” because it’s true. Having a child with autism is hard going, but along with all the cack stuff I have been taught patience, acceptance, unconditional love and that sometimes you may have to dig a lot deeper to find a person but when you take the time and effort to do the digging you find such a beautiful soul that it makes it all so worthwhile.