The protective mother alligator awakened in me

It doesn’t matter how big and grown up we think our children are getting, when they’re feeling vulnerable they’re always our babies.

The Monster has spent the last three mornings as part of a small group of children being assessed for an ASD, or autism spectrum disorder.  The wee group of six children aged 4 and 5 play together in a mock nursery setting with two specialists.  Through a half silvered mirror (think of those big mirrors you see in police interrogation rooms on TV) six adults sit in silence, watching their play.  Armed with clipboards and pens, these adults are responsible for deciding what, if any, additional support needs the Monster has.

Today, we got to join these assessors for five minutes to see what sort of thing was going on.  As I quietly sat down I could see a buzz of activity before me – five of the children were buzzing around pretending to play at shops (the theme for the day), making pretend sandwiches, running pretend cafes.  One was sat on his own, in the middle of the room beside a toy till, patiently waiting for someone to come and ask to pay for something.  Only the other boys didn’t want to buy anything.  After a while, the wee boy, who had been eagerly watching the other children, started to quietly say, “nobody’s playing with me.  Why is nobody playing with me? Nobody’s playing with me,” over and over.  He eventually went to one of the play workers, told them the same thing and then sat back down, obviously distressed.  This wee boy was my wee boy, and my heart went out to him.

The protective mother alligator was awakened in me.  How dare those children not play with my son!?  How dare anyone allow him to feel sad and alone in a room filled with people!?  I wanted so much to just run through to the adjoining room, scoop him up for a cuddle and tell him it was ok.  To either encourage him to join in with the others, help him to make his shop seem more exciting, or to just offer to be his customer, but I couldn’t.  One of the play workers did join in with him after a few minutes, and he was invited to join the others but his place was at the till and he didn’t want to give it up.  He was still there when my time was up, and as I left the room it was all I could do not to weep for him.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m sure he did join in of his own accord later.  As I left they were going to be moving on to more structured activities and when he came out he seemed to have enjoyed himself, but at that moment he was my baby and I wanted to protect him.  Do you think that ever goes away?

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10 responses to “The protective mother alligator awakened in me

    • So frustrating. It was just a wee snapshot, and to be honest, I’ve never seen him sit so still – something I’d normally celebrate about – but today I just felt sad.

  1. I’m very lucky that my son seems to be quite sociable, and has a small, but very nice group of (all female) friends who all really enjoy playing together. But my son does have his own issues – he can’t yet take the right cues for conversing and doesn’t seem to know what’s relevant to a conversation – he’s a conversation killer in the playground. He can’t read facial clues unless they’re blindingly obvious i.e really happy, or crying. I have to hold myself back lots, and let him make those conversational and social mistakes, so he learns from them, but my mother alligator inner side wants to wade him and help him through.
    *Hugs* – it’s difficult for them, and so hard watching them too…is the assessment process for ASD a long one?

    • I wouldn’t have said that the Monster doesn’t usually socialise with people (although he’s inappropriately in their face), and from what the nurseries have always told me they’d have been surprised by his behaviour today but then maybe he’s always somewhere familiar with familiar people and it was this change from the routine, familiar settings that caused the problem.

      As for the assessment process, I’m still trying to blog it up to date. I’ve written two other posts about the process so far but that only takes me to about Christmas time and a lot has moved on again since then. Basically, it has been 15 months since our health visitor first referred him to an audiologist, and 14 months since she referred us on to be assessed for an ASD. It feels like forever, but I think it has been much longer for others.

      • I didn’t realise the process was so long.
        My son does not have an ASD, but we did suspect it for some time. My HV observed him at nursery and discounted it straight away, although he did show many signs. She discounted it purely on the basis that his social skills were so good. I personally think that she was out of her depth and had a limited understanding of the autistic spectrum.
        We now know that many signs of autism can be similar (although very slightly different) to attachment disorders – and that is what we now believe the issue is, and I’m seeing a mental health worker for help with this.

  2. That must have been heartbreaking. I think that protectiveness is always with you as a mother.

  3. awww that really tugged on my heartstrings. I would have felt the same way. My little girl was last to move about and walk out of all her playmates the same age and when we went for playdates I came away feeling sad as all the other kids were off independently playing and engaging with one another and my little one was sat there on her own watching. It’s so hard isn’t it. xxx

  4. “Do you think that ever goes away?” – No.

    You were very good at keeping it together for him, thats the hardest part, not letting on its hurting you…..

    I have always been very protective & will continue with pride 🙂

  5. Pingback: ASD Assessment Feedback Today – I’m really nervous | From Slummy to Yummy Mummy·

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