Imagine the scene. You have a 13 month old daughter and a 25 Month old son – your son has delayed development, and possibly autism. Managing the Terrible Two’s with an autistic child is proving challenging to say the least.
Your son is now prone to tantrums (as are most two year olds). He is also prone to directing his anger and frustrations at others (as do quite a lot of two year olds). He is unable to understand consequences, though.
Where we’re at
He is still in the middle of being assessed for autism, but you know he has delayed development. He is at the developmental stage of a 14 Month old (at best). Physically, he is advanced for his age. He is HUGE! He’s wearing age 4-5 clothes now.
Imagine a 4/5 year old sized child throwing a tantrum. Now imagine him pushing over your 13 month old child every time she makes a sound. Imagine him grabbing your 13 month old’s hair and smashing her head off the kitchen floor for saying “mama mama.”
What do you do? Maybe you tell off your 2 year old? Do you tell your baby off for making a sound and triggering the behaviour? Do you stick the 2 year old on the naughty step, only for him to get off it the second you move. You can put him back on there 5000 times and he won’t grasp the fact he is being punished. He thinks its a game. You try putting him on the other side of the baby gate, away from you and the baby. Then he butts the baby gate, and screams like he is being tortured.
You try redirecting his anger. You distract him. This works for a few minutes. Until the baby cries again. She wants to join in. You know your toddler will hit her again if you let her. What do you do? Do you ignore her cries? Should you stop playing with your son to play with your daughter instead? Do you try to get them both to play together?
You want to run away and hide from the constant stress. The constant pressure. The constant feeling of judgement. The people glaring at you in the cafe because your son is throwing raisins and you’re not telling him off. The people looking at him with pity when he starts to squeal and rock with happiness in soft play. The ignorant people who assume his life (and yours) are over. You cut yourself off from people. It’s easier not to visit, call, text. Other people do the same. They don’t know what to say. You find yourself isolated.
You wish you could split yourself in two. If you had a clone, you could have one child each, and then everyone would be happy. You try to access help, but are shocked by how little support there is for people in your position.
Terrible Two’s with an autistic child
As much as I am struggling to cope with his current behaviour, I still love my son. Every day, I thank my lucky stars that he is here. His smile can light up any room. He might not speak yet, but his intelligence is visible to those who take the time to look for it.
His frustrations will ease with time (I hope). His behaviour will settle down soon (I hope). In the meantime, I will cope. That’s my job, afterall. PARENT. The hardest job there is. Managing the Terrible Two’s with an autistic child is not easy. But we will survive – and so will you if you’re in the same situation.
It’s October 2018 now – over 5 years since I wrote this post. My son is now 7, in full time special needs school and things have become easier. He still has meltdowns, we still have bad days, but nothing compared to back then. The Terrible Two’s with an autistic child are hard, but I promise… it will get easier!
Find more of our Autism posts here.