What IF?

Lia had a major meltdown today and threw a few things.

Dad was a little frustrated, “Why do you keep doing stuff like this?”

Mom quietly reminded him that Lia’s senses were overloaded and this is how she expresses that feeling.

Lia wanted Mom at that point so Dad and I withdraw to let them work on getting her settled. When there is too much “authority” or “adultness” or whatever in one place for Lia, she acts out. Reducing the environment to a one-to-one situation seems to help shorten her recovery time.

While we were waiting, I decided to try a little “What IF?” with Dad. Visions of possible lines that could be crossed flitted by, but I decided to chance it and dived in, “Can I ask you a question?”

Always respectful to me he answered, “Sure Ma’am.”

“What if Lia was a regular teen-aged girl having a tantrum?”

He furrowed his brow and looked at me, not quite understanding my question, so I continued, “Some of them do, you know. I know several personally. Just regular teens who throw hissy-fits when things don’t go their way.

He tilted his head a little, I think he was starting to see where I was headed with this conversation.

“What if she was a sassy-smart-mouth-know-it-all who delighted in talking back to her parents? Or what if she had just asked to do a sleep-over with friends that you don’t know or don’t like? What if she was prone to sneaking out at night or missing curfew? Would dealing with that be different from what you just went through with Lia? Would it be better or worse?”

I could tell he was actually giving my questions some thought, and then he responded, “Hmmph. That’s something to think about.”

Sometimes we get so focused on behaviors that we attribute to the autism, that we forget autism hasn’t cornered the market on the behavior itself. I happened to be living with two teens of my own when I first heard terms like Oppositional Defiance Disorder (ODD), and learned that teen rebellion was possibly a mental health concern. Children have so many adult issues to deal with these days, I guess it’s no wonder.

Dad never gave me an answer beyond that contemplative reply, and I didn’t press. As a parent I never wished for different children, it just wasn’t something I would ever consider, but there was an occasion or two when I wished for different behavior. I’m guessing it was like that for Dad today. When I found myself wishing, I would think about one of the young ladies I described to Dad and it gave me some perspective. As bad as I might have thought our situation was at that moment, things could always be a lot worse.

So yes, Lia has some behaviors that I think we could all happily live without, but are not likely to disappear. She is who she is, and she does what she does. In the moment, things can be a bit challenging. But, when you stop to consider the “What IF?” – well, let’s just say that I think we’ll keep her.

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