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Monday, January 31, 2011

Happy, Happy, Joy, Joy.

ASD kids tend to feel in extremes. It's the reason we have a term to descibe what other parents might call tantrums. It's called a 'meltdown'. The word tantrum does not do justice when explaining what these inconsolable episodes look like. They are not intended to manipulate. They are not stopped by a cuddle or bribery. And for some, trying to intervene in any way can exacerbate the situation. It can be difficult to know what the trigger is for any particular meltdown, but I can imagine many parents spend their days fruitlessly trying to avoid them. Most particularly when in public. When the public gaze only serves to magnify feelings of  incompetence or frustration. And the judgement. There's always someone lurking, ready to pounce at the most inopportune time to offer some retro parenting advice. Here's some advice for any member of the public who sees me Harri-wrangling in Coles. Fuck off! Unless you have a mint, he really likes those and I might just be able to pull him out of the downward spiral by shoving it into his open mouth.

All that aside, these wonderful kids also experience intense excitement. When we swim in our little backyard pool, Harri will stand on the edge and literally quiver with anticipation as we do the ready, steady, go. At the word go, he leaps off the edge into our waiting arms. The look of absolute joy on his face is probably one of the most heart warming things I have ever witnessed. The pleasure he finds from something so simple is impossible to miss. He feels it in every part of his body and it radiates outwards from his eyes and smile. His feet stamp, his arms and hands flap, he cannot contain himself. It is pure and uninhibited happiness. The compensation I suppose for the darkness, is the light, for him and for us.


  1. That's beautiful!

  2. Well said, and so true. That nicely describes my own little man's extremes too. And I particularly like your distinction between meltdowns and tantrums. I'd moved towards using the word meltdown rather than tantrum a while ago but hadn't thought much about why that was the more correct term, you're quite right.