As parents we spend our entire lives trying to keep our children safe. As a mother it begins in the womb, we automatically find ourselves wrapping our arms around our expanding tummy as we protect the precious life within. We eat the right food, take the right supplements and put our bad habits on hold.
We turn into lionesses the moment our baby is born, our instinct to keep it safe is all consuming and will last for rest of our lives, our hearts beating to the same rhythm until we take our final breath.
Our sixth sense becomes so sharp it crackles like electricity.
We keep “The Sand man’ and ‘The Boogie man’ away, chase monsters from under bed and ‘The Big Bad Wolf’ knows better than to come calling.
We feel sick with fears we cannot voice as they grow up and away from us, making their own way in life and leaving their footprints upon the earth. We can only hope that they tread carefully.
John’s journey through life has taken us on a different route than most but a similar one to many.
In order for families like ours to manage the pot holes and pit falls we need help, usually from strangers who become our saviours. We have to put our trust and our child, in the hands of people who we hope will make a difference and keep them safe.
It feels like you are throwing them off a cliff and hoping that the man at the bottom will catch them.
Luckily for us he had careful hands.
John has had the usual childhood accidents; he broke his two front teeth on a seesaw, rode his three wheeler trike down the enbankment at Meols narrowly missing the spikes and giving his dad heart failure. On another occasion he shattered his kneecap sliding down a pole on a climbing frame, he landed awkwardly and his shin bone drove itself up through his knee cap, its now held together with steel pins. This happened when he was at school and god only knows how he managed to walk into A&E where his dad, Peter and I all stood waiting nervously. We nearly collapsed when we saw the Xrays, John just said ‘Knee stop, please mummy’. He was in plaster up to his groin for 8 weeks.
Since that incident he has been fine and I have managed to keep him safe and sound, it is my job after all.
Safe and sound that is, until last saturday 1st June at 12.15 when an elderly man had a stroke at the wheel of his car and crashed head on into mine. It was a sad and unavoidable situation,thankfully the gentleman is alive but has sustained serious injuries.
John was with me, one minute singing ‘The Summer Of 69’ and the next being thrown around in the passenger seat like a rag doll, sustaining various seatbelt and whiplash injuries and bashing his head.
We were both very lucky. I know that.
My car is or I should say was a VW Golf and built like a tank. It undoubtedly saved us from serious injury.
Due to the high level of lunch time traffic in West Kirby I was going less than 30 MPH.
The Police and Ambulances arrived quickly.
Over a week later, John still has a bruised face and arm, these are the injuries you can see and which will fade in time.
Presumably he is also suffering the same whiplash injuries as me which you can’t see.
I can’t turn my neck without fireworks going off in my head, the muscles down either side of my spine have been wrenched as have the ones in my lower back, my ribs and the muscles inbetween have been stretched and bruised and the seat belt has bruised my stomach and chest. I am on the strongest pain killers and have hardly been out of the house.
You can get some idea of how much John must be suffering, however he has only said ‘Neck stop’ once, indicating he is in pain.
Children and adults with autism often show pronounced sensory issues. These can be expressed as either an extreme overreaction ( Hypersensitivity) to sensory stimulation or as an extreme under reaction (Hypo-sensitivity) to sensory stimulation.
John is Hypersensitive to noise but Hypo-sensitive to touch and pain, this means that he can endure much more pain than most people. So that when he does say ‘Knee stop’ as he did after the playground incident or ‘Neck stop’ as he has this week, you can be assured he is in agony.
John was very traumatised and has been in shock for the past week. His initial reaction to the accident was to make sure he could do all of the things we had been going to do before it happened, making quite sure that life would carry on as normal. However shock quickly took over and he fell apart, attacking his dad the following day and smashing some of his precious CD’s from his collection.
John was devastated knowing he couldn’t control himself. We were equally upset knowing he was clearly struggling yet there was nothing we could do. He is unable to process his thoughts or understand what flashbacks are. He also believed that because I no longer had a car we wouldn’t be able to go to Abersoch on holiday. All very logical to John and all very difficult for him to deal with.
I assured him that I would have another car in two days and that he would still be having his holiday. He didn’t believe me and kept saying ‘Car, ebay, now please mummy’ and crying. My heart continues to break for him.
His bruises will fade but the mental scars will take much, much longer.
My injuries both physical and mental are nothing compared to the torment of knowing that I was unable to keep John safe from harm.
The Sand man, The Boogie man, the monsters under the bed and The Big Bad Wolf had finally all shown up and I couldn’t do anything about it.