What’s up, Time. Wanna Race?

January 21, 2015

Like I do every morning, I dropped off Jax at school today.  They have it down. You enter from the north, pull around to the back doors, school staff meet you at your car, “Bye, Have a Rockstar Day, Love you,” and off you drive out the west entrance. The whole thing is a few minutes tops.

Today, we waited. In front of me was a nice German car (because autism doesn’t discriminate) and a father leaning into the backseat.  It was clear after a few minutes that this kid wasn’t going anywhere. A male teacher came out to help, and together, they got the visibly uncooperative student out of the car and headed to the school doors.  This was a big kid. He probably wasn’t more than ten years old, but he was the size of an adult.

About halfway there, the student turned to run. The teacher held him, but with the struggle, they ended up on the ground. Another male staff member came right out, and between the two of them, the kiddo got to his feet and walked inside.  You could tell these teachers had done this before, weren’t rattled at all, and just chalked it up to another day at school.  To an objective observer, this was a perfect demonstration of “what to do with a struggling ASD student.” Textbook.

But I wasn’t an objective observer. I was sitting in my car with my 8 year old son and I felt like I was watching the future unfold.  If the kid in front of me hadn’t been at school, hadn’t been in a safe place where everyone understands autism, he would have appeared dangerous.  People would have been scared.

This, my friends, is the fear. This is the constant pressure, the race against time that hangs out on my shoulders every second of every day.  Jax’s progress is an upward graph, for sure. Eye contact and conversational skills and short-term memory are all on the rise.  These are great things.

But we’re not touching his inability to regulate his emotions. We aren’t even close.

The truth? My kid – my cute, sweet, singing, dancing, truck-loving kid who is the first person to run up and hug you if you’re sad or hurt – hits, kicks, swears like a sailor, runs away and fights like a tornado when he’s frustrated or angry.  I’m not talking play fighting, you guys. It’s not for show.

Right now, you just pick him up and deposit him elsewhere while he calms down, but this stops being an option a few pounds from now.  I need to reach my kid. I need to find a solution or, at the very least, a band-aid for his anxiety and I need to do it yesterday.  I’m in a race against time and I am losing.

Dad walked back to his car and looked back at the line of parents waiting to drop off their children. I waved. I don’t know if he saw me and it doesn’t matter because I waved for me, not for him. “It’s ok. It’s all good. Here in this line, we get it. God, do we get it.”  I waved to show him that I wasn’t scared of his son.

Because if this is us in a year or two, I’m really going to need someone to wave.


(Published on Scary Mommy)


  1. Datamancer

    Damn it woman you made me cry. We had a time where my son couldn’t regulate his emotions well, some days it was really hard, he is a big kid, impossible to pick up and move. What we did was talk. Even though he was non verbal at the time I talked to him. I saw the stress coming I saw it happening and I talked to him. What I do is, 1st I use a low calm voice, I try and figure out what made him upset, I address it, give those feelings validation (it is okay to be -Insert emotion here-) then I give him a way to deal with the emotion, options that are acceptable for the situation. We can do ______. like go home, take a few minutes in another room, breathe, do this or that activity instead, and when all else fails I wrap him in my arms and cry with him until he feels better.
    You will find what works, keep at it, pay attention you are an amazing mom and you can do this!

  2. btg5885

    Thanks for sharing this. It is a tremendous lesson for us all. I will wave back to you for your empathy and care. All the best, BTG

  3. JoAnna

    Hugs hon, we may not be right there but we are with you. You’re not alone. Thank you for writing this telling us we’re not alone either. Many hugs

  4. Annemarie Long

    When you posted this months ago, I read the first few lines & stopped. I was afraid to read the rest. Why you ask? Because I am that parent, the one who’s lost the race with time. Drew is now 17, & although he has made leaps & bounds over so much. The rage still breaks through from time to time. Even with medication & continual therapy sometimes whatever is going on inside that beautiful mind pushes through & manifastates in a rage of thermonuclear proportions. Drew out weighs me by 100 pounds now & he is scary superhero strong & I can no longer just pick him & deposit him in a safe place & what you described is some days a day in my life, I’m that parent, (in a nice German SUV) who has the child that it might take 3 or 4 teachers to get safely inside. Time you caught me, but I, like my son will keep fighting you every inch of the way!

    • Rebecca Masterson

      It’s catching us, too. Time is a bitch. But we’ve got some fight in us yet. oxox.


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