My daughter Bethany has autism. She is also a brain tumor survivor. For years now, she has vehemently tried to control the people and things in her environment.
Thanks to counseling, I now know that Bethany’s strong need to keep everything and everyone in her life exactly the same, is her attempt to keep her world safe and orderly.
Apparently, Bethany’s need to be in control is super strong because suffering through painful brain tumor treatments and battling an uncontrollable seizure disorder for most of her life, has caused her to have very little control over what happens to her own body!
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Just the other day, I made a startling and life changing discovery, when I realized that this behavior is actually a form of anxiety.
For years now, whenever I’ve gotten ready to go out somewhere without her, Bethany has gotten very upset and angry.
We also engage in the exact, same troublesome conversation every time I plan to go somewhere without her.
In a very demanding tone of voice, Bethany always asks me why I have to go, then she orders me to stay on the couch.
She tells me I can’t go, only daddy can go, and she will not let me go when we move to a new house!
She follows me around as I get ready to leave, asking me the same, exact questions and saying the same, exact sentences over and over.
When she’s done following me around the house, she goes and sits silently on the couch for about ten or twenty minutes.
Finally, when she’s done contemplating, she asks in a calm and resigned tone, “You gonna come back?”
I then, of course, tell her that I always come back and I will this time too.
(God help her if, someday I don’t come back!)
Then I am able to leave without any further complications and she is fine and even has fun while I’m gone.
I don’t know why I never made the connection before, but this behavior is how Bethany processes and expresses separation anxiety!
Now that I realize this important little tidbit of information, I can be more supportive and understanding in my responses to her distress.
I can show her loving compassion, rather than anger and annoyance.
I hope to apply this newfound information by responding more sympathetically and sensitively when Bethany shows signs of anxiety in other situations as well.
I’m sharing at The Mommy Monday Blog Hop
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