As my husband walked in after a long day of work. I saw his face, his body stiff like it gets when he is too over stimulated. The stress starts to buckle up and snap all his limbs into one stiff position. That the only way for him to loosen them is too collapse on the floor in the fetal position.
I’ve been here with him like this, more times than I can count. Before, I would beg to find the answer. Why? I always asked him. Why? What's wrong, what happened? Then I’d get mad and scream, Snap out it! Everything is fine! Pull yourself together.
Now, it's different. I might not understand why or even have an answer to why it happens but now, now I get it that he can’t control it. Its funny to me that, it took me having a son with autism the same issues undiagnosed I’ve dealt with from my husband to realized that of course Cody as autism too.
As he walked in the house, the dogs, kids rushed up and screamed, laughed and wanted to celebrate his arrival but they were meet with hostility. He stiffened and held his hands to his ears.That was my first sign, I quickly jumped up and shuttled them all away knowing that this was indeed a “red” moment. We learned with going to therapy for Gunner’s autism that to help him understand where he's at emotionally we use a scale. Yellow for “just fine” Green for “starting to go” Red for “Extreme uncontrollable emotions.”
I now use this with Cody. It helps me to understand where he is at and it helps him to have something to focus on and know that he might not be in control now, but he could be.
As I shuttled the kids away and put the dogs outside. I told Wyatt the oldest. “Dad’s at a red. I need you to distracted the littles.” He jumps up just like I did. (I wish that I wouldn't have to have him help me when we get into these moments but I believe strongly that it helps him understand his brother more as well as his dad.) Wyatt rounds up the littles and heads to the other room distracting them with play. I walk into my bedroom to see him already naked on the floor, rocking back and forth. I worry that I am too late.
I sit down next to him. Quite. I wrapped my arms tightly around his stiff naked body and breath. Careful, to not breathe to fast or too slow. I let him rock me as he rocks himself and I repeat slowly, “You are safe. I got you.” “You’re in a safe place. I’m not letting you go.” Over and over I say these words. Trying so hard to keep my emotions out of it. I swallow my tears and push my fears away because this is not the time for them.
Minutes pass as we rock back and forth on the floor. Sometimes he’d hit himself in the face and I’d have to hold on tighter and say louder “You are safe, you are safe. I am here…” over and over. I grabbed his thick blanket I made him and throw it over his now cold naked body. Pressing my body up against his so he could feel that I was there with him.
The rocking finally starts to slow. I can hear the kids running around destroying the house and I can imagine the pleas Wyatt is thinking as he is the one in charge. But I can’t let that stop me from being here with Cody. I use too. I use to leave Cody alone, frighten. Unable to control himself. I can’t do that anymore.
Abruptly, he stops. Throws the blanket off him and heads into our master bath and gets into the shower. I leave without saying anything, shut the door behind me. Wyatt and I scramble to pick up the house that the littles destroyed in the last half hour because we know that anything right now could put him back into a red again and we don’t want that to happen.
He finishes his shower, heads out in the living room, picks up the littles, throws them in the air. Just as he would, if it was not a red day. Together, we put the kids into the bath, and put them in their jammies. He tucks them in, like any other night. I don’t mention his episode. If this was a few years ago I would have. I would have demanded to know the Why and not let it go until I had some reason for it. But tonight, as I see him tucking in the kids and as he kisses Gunner our autistic son goodnight. Gunner squirms away from his touch.
We look at each other with the understand that although tonight was a red night we actually both were able to let it go. I sigh, kiss him, he squirms just like Gunner and I think, well that went well.
(Cody and Gunner taking his motocylce out of our garage for the spring.)