Ever since Aiden could talk, when something went wrong it was my fault. Aiden is now 18 and guess what? It’s still my fault!
Thankfully, over time I learned not to even bother arguing the point. Well, at least not in the heat of the moment. If by blaming me it means he can move on more quickly then I’ll take one for the team!
Unfortunately, I didn’t always feel this way.
Aiden’s autism causes the need for control and it’s when something doesn’t go to plan, that his need for blame is triggered!
I hate you! You made me do that! If you hadn’t have bought me here that wouldn’t have happened!
That’s the tame version! It used to be much worse, he would say things like: I can’t wait for you to die! You should never of had any other children, then this wouldn’t have happened! It’s your fault, you deserve it! At one stage in his repeating fashion – he had my whole funeral planned out and if I wasn’t dead, he’d have simply buried me alive! (I knew the conversation word for word) Cheerie ah!
I can laugh about it now but at the time, quite frankly – it hurt! I never in a million years thought that part of being a mum would involve being verbally abused by my own child and it took a long time to learn not to take any of it personally. Especially when he would say these things out in public or among friends and family. I just wanted the ground to swallow me up!
Once I accepted this was anxiety driven and it was simply his way of regaining control in an attempt to feel safe again, I was able to manage these outbursts far better and as a result, they were over far quicker and eventually became a rarity.
I noticed that once he stopped getting a shocked or negative response from me, he began to use less alarming phrases and began to learn how to regain control in more appropriate ways.
Interestingly, I was able to notice this, by the way he reacted differently to me compared to his Dad. Simon found it much harder not to take it personally and even now still struggles sometimes. Simons reaction heightened the anxiety and as a result prolonged the outburst.
I’m not to saying he didn’t still blame me! Oh no, he did and still does!
But here’s what we did: At home, we made Aiden a safe place. For us, this was his bedroom. We spent a lot of time using social stories, which firstly explained his emotions and then we moved on to stories which guided him to his safe place when he felt like he was losing control.
To explain and help him describe his emotions we used colours. Red (angry/out of control), Orange (bubbling/I need to go to my safe place) and Green (happy).
Once he was calm, we were able to move on to choices. I often knew why he had erupted – for example, the rules of a game had altered, or his food wasn’t how he was expecting. I would then, calmly, give Aiden two choices. Both would give him a way out of the situation and give him back the control but through this choice.
One choice would be something like:
1) leave the game – and do play something else.
2) don’t eat the food.
The other would be:
1) let’s go and discuss the rules with the others and explain to them why your upset.
2) take the food off your plate that is bothering you.
Wording and creativity was always key, because he’s certainly not easily fooled, but, generally it was about not being able to express himself in the heat of the moment and his instant reaction was rage followed by blame.
Aiden was never expected to verbalise his emotions or colours at the time of an outburst, only ever after, on reflection, and when he was calm, this might have been at much later time throughout the day but this enabled him to recognise his feelings over time.
Aiden’s still seeks control, in all aspects of life, however, he can now control his temper when in public (most of the time).
We and his home are his safety net, so he knows he can release his upset on us and we will not judge.
Just today on two separate occasions, he launched a ball over the neighbours garden in anger and refused to eat his dinner!
Obviously, both events were my fault, but, each time, he independently went to his room, slammed the door behind him and within five minutes he was back out collecting the ball and eating his dinner.
I asked Aiden before I wrote this blog if he still associates colours with his mood? He looked at me blankly and said: ” I think you’ve gone loopy Mum, I have no idea what you’re talking about!”
Love that boy!