“Buying” Sanity?

bs1I know that Carter is different from a lot of kids diagnosed with autism.  He is verbal, speaks in full sentences, can carry on a conversation (a lot of times one sided but can carry on one) and he can communicate his wants and needs to a certain extent.  Majority of people that do not know  Carter has been diagnosed with autism would not even think that anything is wrong with him.  I hear this a lot from people… I understand why they would think nothing is wrong… but if they only lived with him… if they only experienced the melt downs… if they only had to listen about every fact about Skylanders, Sponge Bob, Musical Instruments, and whatever NEW thing he is excited to know about – over and over again as he walks around in a circle… I understand that people do not know what goes on behind closed doors.

Carter loves to be loved – he can be very affectionate.  His tender side has all come out  over the past 16 months.  Before, I always said that if you were on fire he wouldn’t pee on you to put you out.  BUT – now he loves to snuggle… specially with Todd.  He and I share special moments and believe me  – I cherish every moment.

Right now I am trying to figure out if I am doing some things correctly.  Carter has a tendency of not understanding why he doesn’t get what he wants (kind of like a 2 or 3 year old).  Example:  We went to the school spring carnival.  I worked the carnival pretty much from 2 pm to 7 pm.  Todd has been out of town with work.  I am fortunate enough to have great friends that helped me watch the kids and take them around the carnival while I worked.  Around 7 p.m. they auctioned off baskets that each classroom had put together.  There was one basket that Carter had to have.  It was filled with games (like Candy Land, Checkers, Chess, Go Fish, Uno, Jenga, some games I have never heard of, etc.) and puzzles.  The basket value was $100.00.  He sat by the basket while the other baskets were being auctioned.  He didn’t understand why I couldn’t just buy the basket.  I told him I would try my hardest to win it.  When the helpers of the auction took the basket up to the auctioneer, Carter started crying.  I knew I had to win that basket because if I didn’t I would have a night of hell.  So, the auctioneer started the bids… $30… then $35… then $40… then $45… then $50…  I and another man were the only ones bidding on this basket.  We went back and forth…  I kept thinking to myself… I have to get this basket – if I don’t I will have a horrible night when I get home… when Carter cries about not getting what he wants or crying because he can’t move on from one subject to the next – he will literally cry for hours.  So… the man and I continued to go back and forth until I won the basket for $90.  Which I feel like I pretty much stole the basket… I think it was worth more than $100.00 – there were so many games and puzzles that our living room floor looked like Christmas. Carter’s was so excited and wanted to leave and go home right then and there – he was in fear that someone would take it from him.  On our way home from the carnival, I started thinking to myself… did I do the right thing?  Did I just buy my sanity for the night – is that teaching him that every time he cries I will give in?  I am not sure if I did the right thing – all I know is that he was happy… I didn’t have to listen to crying all night… and I gave $90 to help out my kids school.

I got Carter into Leg Up Therapeutic Riding Center.  Leg Up, in a nut shell, is equine therapeutic riding for children with disabilities.  I took him on Thursday to meet the instructor and to take a look at the facilities.  The place is beautiful.  Becky, the instructor, was absolutely wonderful with Carter and his tag-a-long brother. We stayed for about an hour… meeting the horses, viewing the stalls and grooming stations, etc..  Carter was disappointed he didn’t get to ride – but we both explained to him that he would come back on Monday and be able to start riding.  When we got ready to leave, Becky walked us out to my car.  She and I were talking and the next thing I know Carter had picked one of her beautiful buttercups.  I explained to him that we just don’t go around picking peoples flowers without asking permission.  My statement went in one ear and out the other… he wanted to pick another.  I refused to let him do so and he started pitching a fit.  Becky and I said our good-bye’s and she left to tend to her work.  I had to pull him away from the flowers and the whole time he was “fighting” me.  He wanted another buttercup and he was determined to get it… he is a strong little booger for a 5 year old.  I finally picked him up and he went completely stiff.  I had to bend his knees  to get him in the car and forcefully put him in his booster seat.  I shut the car door, got in the car and drove off – the whole way home he was screaming about buttercups.  While screaming I asked him if he wanted to go by Sports World (my in-laws store) to see his grandparents.  He screamed “YES!!” – needless to say he didn’t straighten up until we made it to the door of Sports World and then… it was all over… no more screaming.

I was told by the doctor at Vandy to pick and choose my battles… but I don’t know if I am picking and choosing the right ones.  Am I trying to “buy” my own sanity when outburst occur?  I suppose this is a learning curve for me…  I don’t know the answer… YET!  As soon as I know – I will let you know…. BUT DO NOT hold your breath.  🙂

You have to keep your sanity as well as know how to distance yourself from it while still holding onto the reins tightly. That is a very difficult thing to do, but I’m learning.  – Diahann Carroll


One thought on ““Buying” Sanity?

  1. Shana,
    You are doing EXACTLY the right thing. If there is something you can reasonably do for your son to ease his anxiety, you should do it, guilt free. He’s not mature enough to learn patience, yet. But he will get there. And if his brother is watching… well you may have to buy two baskets every now and then. What I regret most about parenting a child on the spectrum was pushing too hard and expecting too much. Someone wiser than me said the difference between high-functioning kids and low-functioning kids is that with low-functioning kids we only see the disability and with high-functioning kids, we don’t see the disability at. That kind of thinking is harmful to each group. You are doing an awesome job! They are still babies. Let them be little, right?


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