I am a single parent to 3 children, (ages 9, 10 and 11), my youngest child is a girl and my older 2 are my sons. My oldest son, Riley, is severely autistic, my middle son, Aidan, has some anxiety and my youngest, Charlotte has a global developmental delay that is going into more probing in the coming months. I can only work part time out of the house; which is really one day a week. At a retail job because I have been with the company for years and they are compassionate to my situation they accommodate my schedule. My father passed away last month and was a source of support for me; he was someone to talk to and did what he could to help me and the children. He helped me tremendously when I was in the midst of my divorce. My mother lives in a rest home and while she is cared for, I am the first child on the list if anything should happen. The children are in school during the week, but we have many doctor appointments.
A day in our life starts off with me, mom, sleeping on the couch to ensure that Riley does not set the house on fire by cooking in the oven, or trying to escape and turning my car on. He is very smart and figured out the locks on the doors. He usually wakes up around 4am and almost always has had an accident. Most of the time when he is up at this hour he is in an agitated state and will cry and thrash and bite. He will turn the tv on and other devices to help calm down. I encourage him to take deep breaths. He will lay on the now ripped, stained and sagging couch with me. When Aidan gets up he must stay in his room because if he comes out in the morning near Riley he becomes very upset and will attack him. So Riley and Aidan go the same school and I have to drive them together sometimes. About a month ago, I removed Riley from the cab for safety reasons. I did not feel the staff we comfortable with Riley when they asked me to assist with Riley in getting him on the cab after escalating a situation, I knew things could go wrong. So now I drive him and pick him up. This morning Riley was very upset before even leaving the house and during the 10 minute ride to school he bite me when I was driving. He was trying to reach his brother in the back seat, but I put my arm between him. I run back home to get Charlotte off to school and because I now drive Riley, it interferes with getting Charlotte ready for school. Nearly every day I drive her to a neighboring bus stop that comes a little later.
The plumber pulls into the driveway at that moment, he finally has time to come over after I called him 3 days ago, to fix the slow toilet. Once again, Riley has flushed something down the toilet, this time it was my toothbrush, it is usually some toy that belongs to his siblings. This lovely new behavior used to happen when he was very little, but has now come back this spring and has cost us over $1,500! Then I sat down at my kitchen table with my mountain of paper work and it is huge amount. I have to contact SSI because they are trying to cut my daughters benefits and she has upcoming evaluations and meetings. My dryer was broken for several months and I had to ask friends to wash our clothes. It was pathetic! A friend came over and fixed it for me for free. And it was wonderful! I was going to school full time, but Riley’s needs are too great. I would love to work, but between meetings, doctor appts, it just isn’t possible for my family. I have to rely on state assistance which is a month to month battle. I often wonder what life would be like if Riley was not autistic and I can’t think about it for too long. This world is isolating and restrictive. I am always on edge and my anxiety is to the max. I have met some of my most favorite people in the world because of my son. The individuals that have shown him love, compassion and given their friendship to us have been amazing. I have gone to bed crying and so do my children. My daughter Charlotte has a “safe spot” in the home because in the last month Riley has escalated so much and is now going after her. He wants to bite people when he gets to that state. Currently, I am trying to get Riley placed in a residential home because we can’t live like this anymore. My other children and are suffering and Riley needs more help than I can give him. I can’t being to tell you how much I love my children, but Riley is my first born child, He is my baby and my heart and if this happens I pray that he is safe and doesn’t think I don’t love him. I have to make these decisions alone and face these tough choices. I don’t want Riley to become a monster and be some story on the news. I have to be proactive