DISCLAIMER – You’re about to read a very intimate story of our autistic son’s (Max) cry for help. I try not to expose the intimate details of his life in an effort to protect him – both now and as he gets older. But this story is share-worthy. Please know that Max and I had a long talk about this blog post. He understands what is written and I got his full permission to write and post this. Thanks for understanding.
The Lead In
We dropped both kids off at some friends’ house so we could go on a double date. Our daughter Maci, being the oldest, was put in charge of keeping the peace. So off we went to dinner with our friends, and we had a great evening together. I did get one phone call from Maci asking me to intervene when Max had gotten a little physical with her, but we got it diffused quickly. After dinner, we went back to their house and had a rousing game of indoor tag with both families. All appeared right with the world.
The True Story
When we got home, Maci began to tell us some of the things that really went on while we were away. Apparently Max had moments of anger, treated his friends with disrespect, cussed at his sister, and was at times hard to be around. Maci even mentioned that she doesn’t want to be in charge of other kids and Max at the same time anymore, considering how hard it is to not only deal with the blowups, but help other kids process what they saw and heard. Considering the other children are quite a bit younger, I was a little horrified at what Maci was saying.
As the kids were getting ready for bed, I began to ask Max questions about what had transpired. He was honest and came forward with all of the crap he had spewed directed at Maci and just in general. I got upset – upset because this conversation happens over and over.
Max is very high-functioning, and can carry himself fine in most circumstances. So when I get upset, it’s because I know deep down inside, he has the ability to control his anger. Time and time again, he chooses not to control it and lash out. I vehemently reminded him of how friends won’t want to spend time with him if he always treats them poorly. As I spoke, I could see his countenance turn to sorrow. When he processed the consequences of his actions, the anger did not come back. I could tell it was simply frustration with himself.
The Cry For Help
After a couple minutes, he stopped me and said, “Dad, I need to go to bed. I need to go pray.” It’s our nightly custom to tuck the kids in and pray with them. Max has never once in his life asked to go to bed so we can pray. And most nights, he doesn’t even want to pray. I froze as he ran into his bed and pulled the covers over himself. We barely had the lights shut off before he began to pray in a loud, extremely passionate voice.
“GOD, I NEED HELP! I lost my MIND today! I let my anger take over and I’m so, so sorry. I don’t want my anger to take over. PLEASE HELP ME! I know you can take it from me. You’re a good father, and I love you. I know you love me too. I don’t want to be angry anymore, so please help. I promise to work on it too. I want to be a good son. I want to be a good friend. I will work hard to control my anger, I promise, but I need your help.”
He proceeded to go on for another couple of minutes cycling back through the same thoughts, just saying them with different words. Maci, Jamie, and I laid there with mouths open in astonishment. Never in all our years together has he been that sincere about change, eloquent in his speech, and passionate with his prayer. It was flat out amazing.
Our life is a continual balance that never stops shifting from side to side. The ongoing goal is to integrate Max socially to help him develop his relationship skills, but that comes at a cost to those around him. I want to say thank you to the dozens of families we do life with that understand the situation and accept our son’s idiosyncrasies even when those people are negatively impacted. You know who you are. Thank you.
If you’re a praying person, and you think about it, say a prayer for our boy from time to time. Pray that he would continue to feel so strongly about treating others well, and pray that God would reveal himself to Max in a real and tangible way.
If you are interested in hearing another similar story, read here.
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