To the Anxiety That Makes Life Extremely Hard for My Daughter With Autism
To my daughter’s Anxiety,
It’s been a while since you and I fell out. Today you made me angry even though I wasn’t your target. You see my daughter is 6 and has autism. It makes her day to day life extremely hard at times as she attempts to navigate the world and find her place. It’s not helpful when you come along and add to the mounting stress she already feels. I know you often tag along with your friend, autism; you seem to be closely connected.
We had a lovely playdate arranged with some close friends in a park we often visit. The school holidays throw her out of her comfort zone but she copes really well with planning. It should have been a lovely day. Plan we did, prompt we did. We talked it through loads and off we went. But some days there just isn’t enough planning in the world and you seem to grab her regardless. My beautiful girl was crying, screaming and kicking the seat in the car. She hit her little brother and she threw whatever she could get a hold of. She refused to get out of the car so we sat there, her crying and her brother unsure. You had her, and you were winning.
I wanted to yell and scream at you, Anxiety. I wanted to rip you out of my daughter and stamp on you a million times for what you do to her. I wanted to swear at you and boy, did I have some select words for you. I wanted to cry, truth be told, because I’m exhausted, overwhelmed and often feel out of my depth trying to do what’s best for her. Trying, as a parent, to make her world as easy and understandable as I can, while also trying to keep her safe. I have to think with and about her 24/7, and when you decide to stop by it’s a hundred times worse. She’s likely to run at any given moment, and it’s scary.
Instead, I wish to thank you, Anxiety. You see, every time something like this happens, it makes me a stronger parent, ready to face you the next time you decide to gatecrash our lives. You know what else? With my help (and maybe a little stubborn attitude) she got out of the car. She had a few moments on the floor waving and kicking her arms in the air and I let her. Why? Because she was releasing you. It seemed like she was angry at the feelings she was having. I know deep down she wanted to see her friends, to go on the swings, to eat the picnic we took with us. After she started to calm, I bent down and gave her a choice – go to the playdate or get back in the car and go home. I was calm and fair, she knew either would be OK with me. And do you know what? She chose the playdate. After a few more minutes of calming down she had a great time. It was a lovely day after all.
Thank you for attempting to take my daughter down today. You’ve shown me she’s not going to let you win, even at the age of 6. She made a choice to put you aside and remind you that you don’t get to rule her life. I would say better luck next time, but I don’t want to suggest I’m offering you a seat our next day out. I will just bid you farewell for today. We’ll see you when we see you. We’ll be ready for you every time.
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