Autism reared it’s rotten and frustrating head this morning in an attempt to throw a wrench in my otherwise cheery girl’s day. I woke Hallee up this morning and instead of being excited about it being Friday and getting to go to an extra swimming class today, she woke up contrary and out of sorts. The outfit I chose for her was wrong. (This means it wasn’t pink) I put two braids in her hair instead of one. I served her cereal bowl in my left hand, not my right. (A serious no-no in her world) There were tears involved. Sound like a typical morning with a headstrong little kid? While Hallee functions at a 5 to 6 year old level, she’s 16 years old and my size..well on her way to shooting past me at 5’7″.
Typically, if Hallee has a rotten morning, the minute she gets on the bus with her (amazing) bus driver and aide, she’s fine. She loves school, loves the bus, her friends, the whole routine. Days off and holidays are not good things, as far as my Best Gal Pal Hal is concerned. So I was surprised this morning when I got a phone call from her well -meaning but perplexed teacher saying that Hallee was crying and asking for me. I haven’t gotten a phone call like this from school in years. Our conversation went like this..
Hal: Oh, Mommy..I have a problem..(crying)
Me: Tell me what the problem is.
Hal: Oh, Mommy..(crying)
Me: Are you hurt? Are you sick?
Hal: No..I have a problem, Mommy.
And it went on like that. She DID have a problem, something that was bothering her enough to cry at school for the first time in years. But she couldn’t tell me what. She couldn’t tell me if she was scared, or hurt, or homesick..she just knew she wanted Mom. She didn’t have the words for what she was feeling. Autism does that. It throws up road blocks in your kid’s neural pathways. The phrase, “I have a problem” is a line she scripts from one of her Barney videos. She knows it means that something is wrong, and we have to figure out what when she says it.
She did get thru the day. What caused the emotional turmoil remains a mystery. She came home still teary, still trying to tell me that something was wrong. She says she’s not sick. And yet she was crying. I wrapped her in a tight hug and pulled her down next to me on the couch and held onto her for a good 15 minutes while she cried like her heart was breaking. When that storm finally cleared, I asked some tentative questions about her day. Did she swim like a fish today? Yes. Did she eat a good lunch? Yes, it was “yuck”. And with that the sun came back out and she was Hal again. As I type this she’s upstairs making a chocolate cake with her sister and scripting lines from her favorite Mary Kate & Ashley movie.
I may never know what set her off today. Just being a 16 year old girl? Hormones? Frustration? Did I really screw it all to hell by laying out a black and white outfit instead of pink? Gah. If anyone needs me I’ll be rocking quietly in a corner with my laptop..shopping for more pink outfits.