Somedays, Autism wins. Yes, that's Autism with a Capital A, as opposed to autism, the one that doesn't reduce you to a sniveling mess in the car outside your kids school.
Today was Run for the Arts at Ruby's school. Through the generosity of family and friends, she had about $400 worth of pledges on her sheet. I doubted she'd run more than 2-3 laps but you never know, the girl does love to run. I was excited for her first school fundraiser, and as a runner, excited to watch her run. Also, the arts programs can use all the help they can get, so knowing we had a lovely amount to donate to her school filled me with joy. So, I decided to volunteer the day of the run and help her class out.
I showed up in the classroom at the appointed time, and all the kids were still out at recess. I chatted with Ms. F about how things were going, shared some cute anectdotes and waited for the class to return. The second they came in, all the kids surrounded me asking who i was, and telling me about their day with Ruby. And then she walked in, and it all fell apart.
She saw me and thought it was time to go home. Nothing could dissuade her. I told her I was there to help, and that we were going to PE to run, and the tears started. We walked together to circle time where she buried her head in her lap and cried hysterically. When the kids went to line up she just completely freaked out. I tried hugging her, reassuring her, holding her hand, and every trick I had in my tool box. When the kids filed out, she ran to the table and just kept crying. Part of me knew it was over at this point, but part of me thought that maybe she might calm down and pull it together and be able to participate.
She yelled at me to leave, saying "GOOD BYE! GOOD BYE! GO GO GO!" so I stepped out into the hallway to see if Ms. F could bring her sensory system down, the classroom after all is her territory, and Ru is used to her being there, not me. I stood outside the door, hearing her weep and hearing sweet Ms. F offer so many comforting things that usually help calm Ru down. There was another little girl having a terriffic meltdown and it took two adults to keep her safe and I'm sure her outbursts were not helping Ruby's spiralling sensory system.
Finally Ms. F stepped out, and said Ruby was just crying on a bean bag, and she had to go check on the rest of the class in PE. I said I was going in to be with her, and Ms. F said "I think if you go in she's just going to want to go home" to which I replied "Yeah I think that's the only option, I don't think she can pull it together, and I can't take much more" ((and I burst into tears)). I reassured Ms. F that I'm just an overly emotional pregnant lady and went in to Ruby.
I sat next to her on the floor, offering a hug, or a hand to hold or anything, and she just kept refusing me. Finally, after a couple of minutes she sat up, crawled into my lap and asked for a hug. I was doing my best NOT to cry, as I held her close, realizing my huge mistake in this debacle. I asked if she wanted to try to go to PE, and she said yes, but clearly she was so overwhelmed and confused that she didn't mean it because she immediately grabbed her jacket and backpack and wanted to go home. Ms. F came back, and we were going to try and walk to the track to watch the other kids, but the tears started again, and Ru practically climbed up my leg she was so anxious, shouting "Goodbye!" to her teacher. We bid her farewell and headed out to the car, the sobs getting further and further apart.
Once we were outside, it was like it had never happened. She walked to the car, talking about the trees and the kids she saw at school that day, and asking for a snack. We buckled in, and headed out to the other stops we had that afternoon, groceries, milk, speech therapy, and other than not letting me out of her sight, she was totally normal.
I on the other hand, called Ryan (who is away in Texas on business) and cried like a baby. There is NOTHING harder than seeing your kid in a place that you can't reach, a place you put them in because you didn't think that maybe, just maybe the separation of home and school isn't something she's ready to shift yet. Nothing harder than watching her anxiety escalate to a point where she can't have rational thoughts.
Nothing worse than knowing the only thing you can do is let Autism win, and try again tomorrow.
Fortunately, Ms. F is going to have Ruby run tomorrow at PE so she can still get credit for participating. Autism won today but it won't keep us down for long.