After the conversation with his Aunty his life went a bit crazy, He got another sibling; he was so loud. His sister got loud as well, he wasn’t sure why that happened; it was all very confusing.
Michael met a lot of new people who kept bossing him around, tests they called it. It was pure torture, everyone kept looking at him, touching him.
The rooms were so bright. It was too much,
“Mum stop this, please stop this”. He climbed into his mum’s lap screaming and groaning. Mum did her best to comfort him, she wouldn’t let him stop though. Kept whispering encouraging words in his ears. Holding him telling how good he was doing.
Although it was a struggle for him, these people explained his fears (not to him he was still too young to understand), why he was the way that he was, why he couldn’t breathe in a room of people. Why his voice was broken! He was diagnosed with ASD (Autism Spectrum Disorder) at 2. His mum cried for all of 5 minutes then proceeded to say
“Right, what do we do now? How do we help him? How do we move forward”
Mum was a plan orientated individual at the time. His Dad’s response was brilliant “O.K.……? As long as he’s got a smile on his face who gives a F**k!” Michael had found this out at a later date, when he could actually understand. But that encompasses his parents. Mum and Dad, the leaders of his army. All these new people he met were to became his soldiers, a part of his army. His soldiers provided support to the Gladiators.
Conquering his fears was the hardest most exhilarating thing he has done to date.
The work involved was unbelievable, and exhausting. All through this his mum was there, working with him. Mum took him to speech therapy twice a week. He wanted to give up every single week but that wasn’t an option, mum was determined to see him through this. At times, his mums’ frustration with the process would become too much for her just like it did for him. For her to see how much pain that Michael was in every week was debilitating. Although he was surrounded by people he felt so alone, no one understood what he was going through except mum he supposed, she was going through it with him, learning as he was. He still wanted it all to stop!
He’d get home of an evening and go hide under a table or in his room. He needed to be alone. Mum wouldn’t allow him to escape inside himself, she was there pulling him out of his spiral, making him do his work and not give in to his need for solitude. It wasn’t healthy for him his mum thought. He would grab his toy animals and calm himself by placing them in a perfect line and breathe, all the while mum sat with him repeating what animal was what.
“Dinosaur, look Michael Dino-saur” Mum stated repeatedly while trying to make eye contact.
“Dog, woof. Dog says woof” sitting across from him mum lined the animals up with him.
His voice was broken, it was hopeless. This wasn’t accomplishing anything, after 6 months of perseverance, of dedication from not just himself but his army as well, he wasn’t afraid to look at people. The first time he initiated eye contact, mum went insane.
“Good Job Michael you’re doing so well”, praising him continually for the smallest achievement. These milestones may seem like nothing but his mum made sure he understood that they weren’t a small feat.
He made eye contact on a regular basis. Going shopping wasn’t as difficult as it used to be. His mum refused to let him stop doing daily tasks, refused to let him give in to the fears of things that most people took for granted. The lights and noise became bearable because he had been given the tools to work through it; because his mum had been resolute in de-sensitising him to the norm.
After 12months he found his voice and it wasn’t so bad, he could communicate a bit better. The fear of not being understood, of the sound of his voice no longer an issue.
He was thirsty so thirsty, he went running up to his mum and said as best he could
“Water” tugging on mums’ hand to show her what he meant, this proved unnecessary.
“Water Michael? Does Michael want water?” Her eyes glistening as she asked him.
Nodding his head up and down “Yes” He said clear as day
Mum practically ran to get him something to drink
Again, it took an effort on his part not to go back to the way he used to be, but the look on his families, his mums face when he would say something would make it all worthwhile.
Attending Special needs school to assist in living a “normal life”. Group Therapy to facilitate functioning in social situations, where he wouldn’t be scared of people or noise etc. This was all hard work that he did by himself, with mum reinforcing the lessons at home so it then became his norm.
Michael had basically had to retrain his brain so his fears would not disable him
It would have been so easy to go back, but no, his mum would not allow it, she was tenacious, pushed him harder and harder with each success he had.
During all his hard work, which was a solo endeavour he still had his army. It was gruelling work with his mum walking by his side as he did it.
“I never said it would be easy, I said it would be worth it”
Gladiator Mum. The Determined.