Why I can’t leave him alone

Miriam Gwynne by Miriam Gwynne Additional Needs

Miriam Gwynne

Miriam Gwynne

Full time mum and carer for two truly wonderful autistic twins. I love reading, writing, walking, swimming and encouraging others. Don’t struggle a...

Why I can’t leave him alone

I’m sitting on the end of his bed while he plays on the floor wondering if it’s safe to leave.

It should be.

On the face of it he’s 12 years old and by now he should be developing independent, understand safety and personal responsibility and be easily able to call me if I am needed.

But the problem is we haven’t reached any of those stages yet and we might never meet them.

Yes his body is 12, taller than me, stronger than me even at times, and with bigger feet.

Yet his cognitive ability, understanding, social awareness, and ability to process, is that of a child under 2.

His communication skills are even younger again and with no spoken words calling for me for help (not that he ever would realise I could help him) isn’t possible.

Then there’s the risk of him having a seizure.

He might look well, not have a temperature, be smiling and appear happy; but epilepsy isn’t moved by any of those.

I could step out the room and he could suddenly shake, foam at the mouth and lose consciousness.

How would I know if I wasn’t in the room with him?

Then there’s the risk he could swallow something. Or hurt himself. Or smash something.

He’s impulsive, seeks sensory feedback often and still mouths everything.

There’s there’s his bodily needs: Not toilet trained and unable to clean himself it’s not unheard of for matters to be taken into his own hands...quite literally!

It’s far far better to prevent such a thing than to face the clean up afterwards, trust me.

Then there’s the dangerous stuff; the climbing on windowsills, the throwing everything, the pulling furniture, the banging, bouncing, thumping and crashing that leads to broken pieces, hands in places they shouldn’t be and actions that could easily result in hospital visits.

Besides the risk of harm to him, the guilt of knowing it could be preventing just by being with him would be tremendous.

So I sit watching my 12 year old trying not to get consumed with the hundreds of other things I could be doing instead.

They won’t get done if I don’t do them so it’ll be another very late night doing laundry, cleaning the kitchen and preparing meals.

I’m grateful for the many staff who have over the years had to be with my son continuously, just like I am: The nursery staff, primary school staff and now high school staff.

But right now in lockdown they are not available so my days are consumed by always being with my son who can’t be left alone.

When people tell me to ‘stay safe’ I often wonder if they realise the heavy burden this means for parents like me who can’t actually safely leave their child unattended at anytime.

School closures are hard for everyone but especially so for those of us with children with physical and developmental needs who require adult supervision every moment of the day.

This isn’t just lockdown for me. This is every evening, weekend, bank holiday and all summer holidays too.

I may as well get comfortable.

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