I think that one of the most difficult things that I have ever had to deal with, as a special needs parent, is watching my son go through autistic regression. I am not sure why it is happening and I am not sure how to stop it or how to help him.
My son has always been higher functioning. He showed no milestone delays and was always extremely verbal. He didn’t even show signs of anything until he was 3 and a half and he wasn’t diagnosed with autism until he was 5 and half.
We have gone through a few periods of autistic regression before. Things like losing skills, like doing a zipper or climbing ladder and gaining fears, like not wanting to go into a pool for the first time in the summer, even though he was in the same pool countless times a few months ago. However, the regression that we are seeing now is different. It seems like we are on a slippery slope, heading downhill, and I don’t know how long the emergency brake will hold.
I don’t know if it is scarier because he is older or if it is because I feel like I’m losing him or if it is because I am losing the fight and can’t help him like I FEEL like I should be able to. I suppose it is really a combination of all of the above.
I know it sounds silly, but I have always prided myself on the fact that my son had quite a large variety of foods that he would eat. Not a large variety for normal kids, but a large variety in the world of autism. Now, he is showing signs of food regression. Foods that were his favorites, things like yogurt, eggs, spaghetti, and cheese puffs, are now staying on his plate and he refuses to eat them. If I make him try, he fights it and gags.
His behavior is also become more and more troubling. He is extremely impulsive and often, very often, acts before he thinks and this can cause major problems. Especially with him getting older. His meltdowns, especially in public, are becoming more frequent and severe and I am often left with no other choice, but to remove him from the situation. His meltdowns range from attitude to physical rage. He often gets EXTREMELY negative and talks negatively about himself. (ie: “I am the worst boy in the world!” “You hate me!”) He also screams things in public like, “Don’t beat me!” “You’re killing me!” and he also shrieks like he’s being murdered. (For the record: The boy has not been spanked since he was 3 years old.)
He is losing more skills. Especially, his personal care skills. He stopped using toothpaste and then, he stopped brushing all together, so we had to go back to supervised brushing. He stopped washing his hair in the shower and then, he stopped using soap. After that, he tried not to shower at all, so we had to go back to reminders and checking on him while he showers. His eating skills have also decreased, even though they weren’t very good to begin with, but he spills more, makes more of a mess and tries to use his hands more often.
His memory is also slipping. He doesn’t remember what he had for the previous meal. He doesn’t remember to lift the toilet lid before he starts to go to the bathroom. He doesn’t remember how to work the shower. He doesn’t remember washing his hands. He doesn’t remember or know if he has slept. Sometimes, it’s downright scary what he can’t remember.
He’s been in multiple types of therapy since he was diagnosed. Occupational Therapy, Physical Therapy, Talking Therapy, Individual Therapy, Social Skills Therapy and just recently, he was accepted into a Day Treatment Program that will start soon. He also had an EEG that came back normal.
I feel like we are losing. I feel like I am doing too much and not enough at the same time! I feel lost and helpless. People point out his regression to me and all I can do is shake my head and say, “I know, I see it everyday. Every single day.” and then, when I am by myself, I cry.
I’m not 100% sure why I wrote this.
I think I just had to get it out.
I think I need advice or suggestions.