** trigger warning**
Below is a post from my personal Facebook timeline from two years ago. I posted it not long after we’d moved up here to Scotland.
Those of you who have read past posts may be aware that we have had a struggle getting support since our move to Scotland. That despite a firm diagnosis of Autism some ‘professionals’ doubted Little Miss H’s diagnosis. They even accused me of making it all up. We have been accused of bad parenting and emotional abuse; it was claimed by some that getting her diagnosed was emotionally abusive! (I’ll just leave that there for the moment but I have a separate post in mind about that for another day).
The fact that those accusations happened at all is beyond belief but when I look back at behaviours and manifestations that Little Miss H has endured and suffered through (and still does) it makes my blood boil that there is so little compassion (and support) for such a little girl who deserves to be acknowledged for who she is, specifically as an Autistic little girl.
It breaks my heart that a child would feel such anxiety that she’d pick her skin to the point it bleeds. She has done it since she was very young but it had just dawned on me that what we were dealing with had a name. That name is ‘self-harm’. Obvious with hindsight I know. At the time though it hit me like a sledge hammer, she’d been doing it since she was 2 or 3 and at the time of the post she was 6. The impact this had on me was huge. The realisation that this was a very real aspect of her autism felt overwhelmingly suffocating.
The fact that she felt anything strongly enough to drive her to the point of hurting herself made me feel like I’d let her down. The panic I felt that I hadn’t previously done more to fix it or support her through this behaviour left me feeling substandard. The fact I had ‘allowed’ her to feel so bad broke me inside.
Obviously we had tried many things to help her not pick her skin. I thought it was partly sensory seeking behaviour and we tried many distractions and redirections. I did notice it got worse with anxiety and we tried to deal with the anxiety itself rather than the behaviour. It’s not like we had ignored it, been blind to it or not been pro-active about trying to help her. It’s natural that I felt sad but why did I feel so bad, so guilty?
Part of my reaction was to force myself to acknowledge it out loud. Part of my reaction was to share in case it helped anyone else and part of me wanted to educate others about the generality of this, so often unspoken, part of autism. Part of me though just wanted to say ‘my poor baby is struggling, I find that hard and life isn’t perfect’.
So I shared on my personal time line.
I got so much support from many friends but was criticised by some too for talking about it so publicly. How very British, to suggest I keep it behind closed doors. I felt ashamed that I had posted about it when I was criticised.
I also realised then that Facebook served as more that a social media outlet, it was part of my support network. I had moved to a new place where I didn’t really know anyone, was struggling to get professional support in place for all our needs. Facebook was a world where people ‘got it’, so I resolved not to feel shame and to embrace the reality of our life. I need the support network my ‘invisible’ friends give me. (That’s you lot by the way – thank you!)
More though, telling our story may help someone and if we can make a difference in one person’s life, make one person feel less alone, then it’s all been for something.
So to those that find it triggering I’m truly sorry, please don’t read anymore and come back for the fun stuff elsewhere on my FB page later – hugs and strength to you.
To those who just don’t want to know scroll on by.
For those of you who want to learn, understand and support – the original post is below.
“So Little Miss H is a self harmer. A horrible statement to make as a mother – I feel like I have failed her. Her Autism causes her such anxiety that she hurts herself and makes herself bleed. She is 6. This in itself is sad enough but what breaks my heart is she now seems to realise that it’s not “normal” behaviour so she is now hiding it and lying about it. This further masks the problem that causes her to do this in the first place making it even harder to identify the cause and help her.
It’s no wonder that the average age for diagnosis of Autism in girls is 12, the professionals involved with Little Miss H still can’t always readily see her Autism manifesting itself and if she’s now hiding some of the most overt tell-tale signs how on earth am I going to get her the help she needs?
I feel like I am at the bottom of a hill….every time I try climbing the hill it turns out to be a volcano, erupts, pushes me back down and just grows into a bigger hill….. sometimes life is a bit of struggle here”
I’m thrilled to say that we are managing this aspect really well at the moment – she still picks when anxious but her self-awareness as she matures is helping us find other, healthier coping mechanisms/management strategies and her scars are fading.
We still don’t have support up here but I have learned that I am enough. She needs me, I am here and I always have and will do my best for her.
To my brave, strong, amazing Little Miss, you are safe and I love you. You will never have to walk through life alone. I am so proud of you, every single incy wincy bit of you. Thank you for being you, Mummy xox