People often ask me what autism is, or what it means to have a young child who is on the spectrum.
It’s not an easy thing to articulate. All I can reach for are the behaviours that seem to spring from that enigmatic well.
If you asked me that question today, I would tell you that parenting a child like Amelia is still much like being on a rollercoaster.
The carriage holding your family might hover on an up-swing for months and you feel that pleasurable excitement of progress in the pit of your stomach. You yell into the oncoming wind: “We’re making it, we’re really getting somewhere! Upwards and onwards!”
But today, like every day for the past six weeks or so, we’re not getting very far. We’re deep at the bottom of a trough and the wheels aren’t moving anymore.
I think they disintegrated on the way down some invisible ramp and now we’re sliding backwards.
In this trough we are locked in yet another lengthy battle of wills with our daughter. It’s the Hundred Years War all over again. We might have taken Agincourt but that doesn’t mean jack in the long run.
We have been here so many times before, but my god it never gets easier. We’re nearly seven years in and some days I wonder how much longer I can hold on.
Last night around dinner time when the screaming began for the fourth time, I walked silently into my room and crawled onto my bed in the dark to escape my own child. In that dark I felt no comfort but at least the space was quiet and it was mine.