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Travelling with Autism has been challenging to say the least.

We started Sam on St Johns Wort a natural herb for the relief of anxiety and stress, as his anxiety  attacks seem to be gaining momentum and the adrenalin in his body takes over.  Sometimes his  strength almost triples and the power he has when he hits out is overwhelming.

The St Johns Wort seems to be taking the edge off these attacks, and the frequency has been reduced  to about three times a week, although this is still unpredictable and in a bad day he may have three  or more attacks.  So this behaviour is still creating issues for us as a family confined to a small  space.  We have a few strategies in place in order to cope.

When Sam has an anxiety attack on the boat we need to move him quickly to the cockpit area where  he is less likely to hurt himself, others and the boat.

He then screams, bangs his ears forcefully, kicks his feet and slaps, pushes or throws anything  within reach.  These episodes can last up to an hour or so but mostly go for 15 to 20 minutes.    During his attack he will try to hit out at me, his brother Mac and sister Lauren and Adam, oh and  Casper the dog has cooped a few nasty belts as well.

It’s interesting to note that dogs must have a  sixth sense as when Sam starts to show signs that trigger an attack Casper disappears in a flash, hiding out of harms way.

Once we have created this space for Sam, he goes through series or pattern of behaviours, where he opens his mouth very wide as if to yawn, then forces a false cough, then raises his hands to ear height and holds them about 5 inches away from his head.  He then waits and tensely and suddenly pounds his ears with both hands wide open, slamming them against his ears with unbelievable

Strength.  We hold him back with force; it often takes two of each on each arm!  He continues to scream and hit out at us at any opportunity, if we happen to let his hands go.  Adam restrains him physically as much as possible and we move out of reach.  All of this time we are, continually talking to Sam, saying “It’s alright, calm down, it’s ok, stop Sam stop” Until the climax passes and the strength fades out of him, then he cries with huge big tears rolling down his face with , pain and sadness in his eyes, like he is sorry!  It is physically exhausting for him and us……

Once after a huge episode where Lauren and I were restraining him, basically sitting on top of him and holding him down, he finally weakened and we both sat crying on the floor over the top of him.  Sam looked up at his sister and saw her tears and while she was still sitting on his chest he reached up and wiped the tear from her cheek and burst into deep sobbing.  We both sat there exhausted and truly upset that the hurt he had caused us was beyond his control and he had just showed us a genuine emotion, a genuine connection, he came out and reached out!!!! It was truly heartbreaking and yet unbelievable!!!!!

One Response
  1. Simone Wetherell says:

    You are a wonderfully special family. Sharing this story made me shed a tear. The love you have for one another is so unique. This is so precious for all of you to share an amazing journey with all of its challenges. Your childen will remember this experience for the rest of their lives. What a precious gift.

    We are all envious of your ability to test your sense of adventure. We hope the wind takes you to the places in your dreams and we look forward to reading about them.

    Take care
    Simone & Diz

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