I've asked the same question three times already. You still haven't heard me, have you? Again, louder, slower. "What. Do. You. Want. To. Eat?" I've called your name, I finally have your attention, now listen, here is the question again. "What... do... you... want... to... EAT?!"
Well you've heard me but all you've done is repeat my question back at me. Why won't you just listen to me, just tell me what it is you want? I know you hear me!
Just put your trousers on. It's really not that hard, you put one foot in at a time, stand up and we pull them up. That's it! You wore these last week, they fit fine, I really can't see the issue. Why are you being so naughty today? That's it, we're already late I can't wait for you anymore, you will wear these trousers! There, you see? They're on, what was the big deal?
Just put the trains in the box now, we're tidying up. Why are you lining them up? Just put them in the box! Right here, this box. Look, I'll show you. See? It's easy. Why are you screaming? It's time to tidy up! Stop SCREAMING! They're just trains! Why can't you just do as you're told?!
Here's your dinner. Eat it now, please. Eat your dinner. You ate it the other day, I know you like it. It's going to go cold. Will you just eat something? You've barely eaten all day, why aren't you hungry? Forget it, I'll take it away. Why do I even bother cooking for you? You never bother eating it anyway! Why are you crying now?
It's bedtime, into bed now, time for sleep. Please just sleep. I've had a long day, I'm very tired and I just want to switch off. Please, keep still, lay down and just sleep. I've read you a story. I'm not reading it again, just go to sleep! Enough is enough. GO to sleep NOW! Stop screaming and SLEEP!!! I CAN'T KEEP DOING THIS!
I've just noticed my name. I was in my safe place where everything is calm. I turn to look at you and you seem angry, but I don't know why. You're asking me something, you want an answer. I'm just learning your language, it's just beginning to make sense. I can make out the words now... " what... do... you... want... to... eat..." I don't know the answer to that. Did I say that out loud? I'm making you even angrier now... I think I'll go back to my safe place.
You're asking me to put those trousers on but I feel anxious about it. The material makes my legs feel funny. I wore those last week, I remember how it feels, it's not nice. They make my legs itchy and I can't concentrate and it just gets worse. I can't shut it out. No! I'm not ready! Don't make me put those on yet! I need time to feel ready! They don't feel right! I can't concentrate, they don't feel nice! Help!
I like my things in the right order. I can relax when everything is where it should be. You seem to like watching your programmes on the television, they make you happy. Lining my trains up makes me happy, I forget the things that are troubling me. You're moving them! Why are you moving them? No! Okay, okay! I'll do it when I'm ready! Wait- I need time, please! If I can just keep these two with me, I can cope with the others going away. Please, no! Don't take them all! I don't mean to be naughty, please understand! I'm really trying but I'm panicking! It's all too fast! Help me!
You've made me my dinner. I like it, but it's quite hot. I'm a bit hot from running around so I think I'll wait for it to cool down. Last time I ate something hot it made my mouth hurt but I didn't have the words to tell you. I haven't eaten much today because my tummy has been hurting but I don't have the words to tell you that either. I'd like to eat this, but when it's not too hot. You're angry again. I'm not sure why. I do want my dinner, I just can't eat it yet. I just need some time. You've taken it away! I wanted to eat it, I really did.
It's bedtime. I'm very tired and would like to go to sleep now, but I have a lot bouncing around in my head. It's very noisy in my mind, I've been learning so much today. All the new words and sounds and smells are all shouting at me at once, I can't filter it out. You've read me a story and now those words are in my head too. Maybe if you just read it again I can focus on your words and drown out the rest. Please, I've had a very long day, please just let me rock and bounce until I settle down. You're angry at me again. I've upset you somehow but I don't know what I've done this time. I'm so tired it's hard to think. It's too loud, I need to drown it all out. Please! I CAN'T KEEP DOING THIS!
Sometimes, I lose my temper. I shout. I rush and I throw things in a flash of rage. The results are devastating and I am reminded just how fragile our relationship is. It's built on trust and I have to protect that. It's all about a different perspective- this is where the extra patience comes from. When I'm tired and stressed and impatient I have to remind myself that, if that's how I'm feeling, what might he be feeling? Why are we rushing, what does it matter if we're late? Does it matter if we get some place on time, or does it matter if he can make himself understood or face his demons and conquer a fear? Does it matter if he eats what I want him to eat or does it matter that he just eats? I remind myself that his mind just works a little differently and I think about what might make things that little bit easier for him. That's how we get by. Sometimes that's all it takes.