If you’ve ever wondered what it must be like raising a child with autism, one UK mother has lifted the veil.
“Admitting that I’m scared of my son is almost impossible and no one knows all the details of our life behind closed doors,” Sarah* recently told The Guardian.
Sharing the story of their four person family through changed names, Sarah talks of her eldest son Robbie’s severe autism and the havoc it wreaks on all of their relationships, particularly with their younger son, Joe.
“Severe autism is difficult to understand if you don’t live with it. Everything we do is centred on Robbie’s condition, which is really hard on Joe,” the mum-of-two explains.
“Joe hates Robbie and won’t listen to us trying to explain how frustrated he is at being unable to communicate and that is why he’s violent and also self harms. The tension in our house now is constant.”
The changes the family have had to undergo over the years has also been dramatic, and offering Joe any semblance of a normal life has long disappeared.
"Our house is like a minimalist fortress with every window and door bolted, anything potentially dangerous shut away and even ornaments or pictures taken down now. The third time Robbie swept his hand across the mantelpiece and shattered everything on it I decided it wasn’t worth the bother. Robbie won’t sleep by himself and although David takes his turn at sleeping with him through the weekend, I’m completely shattered most of the time as Robbie wakes if I move at all. I can’t sleep properly and I wake constantly because I’m stiff and sore from lying in one position."
Sarah says the violence began three years ago, when a trip to the museum ended in her son breaking her nose and punching her in the head 'over and over.' "It was utter, humiliating pandemonium," Sarah admitted.
Then after some time the violence began again six months ago. Alone together in the house, Robbie followed Sarah around before attacking her without warning.
"He punched me over and over in the face, coming after me when I tried to get away and constantly hitting me as I tried to defend myself. Then he just stopped, sat down on the couch and started leafing through a store catalogue. I was scared to move in case he started again and just lay huddled on the floor till David and Joe came in. My lip was so badly burst I needed stitches and again my face was a mess."