What I Want My Child to Know When His Meltdown Is Over


To my beautiful boy,

You look so peaceful curled up in your bed tonight, little man. It’s like the events of the day have washed over you with no ill effects at all. Your face shows no sign of the meltdown you endured earlier in the day. But as I stand here watching you dream, I can’t help but relive the afternoon’s events over and over in my mind. Could I have done more to help you? Could I have avoided it from happening?

I am exhausted, but peaceful sleep won’t come for me tonight. My mind was whirring around as I wrestled with my thoughts, so I find myself here, having crept into your room on tiptoes so as not to wake you. Peering over your bed and wishing I could tell you how I feel.

You’re so precious to me, my beautiful boy. I love you more than you will ever know. I wish I could make things easier for you because the world is just too much for you sometimes.

And today the meltdown fog took you away from me. I wish it was me in your place. I hate seeing you lost in yourself like that.

I saw the fog approaching you, and I wanted to scream to it to leave you alone. Please stay here with me, my son, and let me make it better for you. I’m your mom, and I’m here to help you through it; that’s what moms do. But I could see the panic in your face as you struggled to catch your breath. I could see the fear in your eyes as it began to engulf your body, swallowing you like a predator. I felt so helpless because deep down I knew this had to happen. Your body was saturated and overloaded with stress, and it had to come out somehow.

Every nerve in my body was telling me to scoop you up, but my motherly instincts were so wrong because my very touch was painful to you and made you pull away from me all the more. My heart broke because I felt like I was making things worse. I felt so helpless as the fear and rage swept over you. As I watched helpless, I saw my own panic reflected in your teary eyes, and I didn’t know what to do. I hate feeling like that. It’s meant to be my job to protect you, my beautiful boy.

I tried to tell you it would all be all right, but you couldn’t hear me. The meltdown fog had blurred your senses, and the world around you was gone. I could feel my heartbeat pounding as I tried to stay calm and keep you safe from yourself.

I know you don’t mean to hurt anyone when you lash out. It’s not really you, so I take the hit as doors slam and chairs fly. All I could do was let it take its course, which pained me to my core.

And then eventually you became quiet. You rocked slowly, and I knew this was your way of calming yourself, before you slid  down the wall in a heap on the floor. You slowly unravelled every muscle of your body, and there you were.

My beautiful 11-year-old little boy, so vulnerable and raw.

I could feel your whole body sigh as the exhaustion set in. And I wanted to cry, but I fought the tears back. Holding my breath, I waited for a sign that you were ready for me to enter your world once more. Your eyes slowly opened and looked at me. My knees gave way, and I crawled toward you, reaching out gently to touch your hand.

Your eyes closed at my contact, and I knew you were with me once more. I needed to hug you, to release all my adrenaline, too, as I suddenly realized how exhausted I was. So there we lay on the floor, my hand on yours. I have no idea how long we remained like that. But that touch was so precious to me that I never wanted it to end.

And as I lay there, I realized something. You never really left me because when you’re swamped in that fog, I feel everything with you. You and I are so in tune that I feel every fear, every anxiety, every scream and every feeling of pain you inflict on yourself. I feel it, too.

Do you know you’re not alone, my angel? I know you may not say it, but deep down I know you feel it because with me you’re truly yourself. It’s safe to unravel when you are with me. And I want you to know I will be here — no matter how thick the fog gets, I will be there by your side all the way, waiting for you to find you way though.

As I watch you here sleeping in the darkness, my love overflows, and the tears drip down my cheek.

I kiss your forehead and whisper to you how proud I am of you. I may not be able to stop the fog from coming all the time, and I can’t make the world a less confusing place for you always, but I know it’s going to be OK because I love you to the moon and back, and I’m here for you — always right by your side.

And that’s what we really need to know. 

The future remains uncertain, but right here, right now, all that really matters is us. And we’re in this together, always and forever.

Goodnight, my darling boy. Sweet dreams.

Follow this journey on A Slice of Autism.

The Mighty is asking the following: Write a letter to someone special in your life. What do you wish he or she knew? How has he or she made a difference? If you’d like to participate, please send a blog post to [email protected] Please include a photo for the piece, a photo of yourself and 1-2 sentence bio. Check out our Share Your Story page for more about our submission guidelines.

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