Last night my thirty-one year old lowish functioning autistic brother, Dar, was very autistic! He spent the night drinking the half and half, eating the butter, clucking, stimming, wandering the house and dumping baskets of toys, toothbrushes, laundry paraphernalia. He was smacking his knuckles together and slapping his thighs. This is the kind of night Dar used to have almost always when he was with me, not with my mom (who is simply better with him AND is a brain expert with neurofeedback computers) but he hasn't had a night like this with me in about a year. Needless to say, my heart sank. Not because he was behaving very autistic-like, that's fine, but because I could feel his struggling and uncomfortable energy. Something that had seemed to be happily missing for quite a while.
I understand regression. I have been known to do regression. As an ex-smoker I recall reaching for a cigarette assuring myself that eight years of not smoking meant I could now have one socially. Nope! Immediately I began craving and justifying and hating myself.
As a sex abuse survivor I remember a time when I felt threatened by a man and threw all I had learned about myself out the window and once again forgot how to say no and be strong. Afterward I struggled with self hatred and justification and fear of my lack of control. I also remember that after these episodes I bounced back much quicker and stronger than the first time. All the years of figuring myself out with intention were right there at the ready, and after a few days I was back to happy and strong!
Last night, my brother regressed. But you know who didn't? Me! I didn't hold his hand and whisper, "You poor autistic boy. You can't help yourself. Poor baby."... I also didn't holler, "Dang it Dar!! You drank my half and half! And who's going to pay for more butter, huh!! Your such a jerk!"... Instead I spoke clearly and kindly. I asked him to calm. I helped him go poo, and then headed upstairs to sleep near him. I kept telling him with a sharpness that could cut through his autistic fog, and a kindness that would not offend, to get some sleep. My mom would have been proud of me!
And guess what else? Although this morning was rough (driving my boys to school Dar sat in the back bouncing angrily and making us look killer cool in our 1998 minivan with what must have looked like hydraulics!) he calmed down and said, "Made awesome mess," pretty clearly. He is sitting behind me right now with calm hands and a soft smile.
I have a feeling that his regression will remain short lived and remind him of how he does not enjoy being.
We have all done regression, and I don't recommend it! Usually the guilt and disappointment in ourselves is what threatens to drag us back in. But we don't have to go back in! Our autistic loved ones don't have to go back in! I don't know if Dar is handling this better because I did, or because his brain is healing so fast that he would have learned this quickly. Probably both. But this morning we are two happy siblings.
Autism Answers with Tsara Shelton (Facebook)
|Me and my sleepy brother, Dar.|