Friday, May 4, 2012

Special Olympics 2012, Day One

This year’s Special Olympics has come and gone.

The two day event went a little differently this year. For starters, it was the first year I didn’t get time off from work to watch the competitions. Puppy wasn’t too happy about that and even voiced that he didn’t want to participate, in his words, “I don’t want to go outside today.” I was hoping that after his morning call to my sister on Wednesday, he would get his pep talk and be convinced to get on the bus, go to school and change into his uniform for the events. Luckily, it pretty much happened that way. His teacher wasn’t going to let him sulk or stay in the classroom alone while they all went to the field.

On the first day of the Special Olympics, he did fine at the 50 meter run. In pictures that were taken by another classmate's mom, I see he was grouped with 4 other kids, him being the tallest and biggest. I think those little runners had an advantage over him…just saying. He didn’t place and came in 4th or 5th. 

It was it long day in the sun for Puppy though. His after school routine was changed, too. He was dropped off at my parents’ house after school. My sister was there and asked if I would like her to take him with her to my brother and his wife’s house until I got out from work so I wouldn’t have to deviate further from my route home. I got there and he greeted me like he usually does. He was excited to tell me about his day at the Olympics and how he ran as fast as he could to get his ribbon.

I sat down on the sofa to visit with my sister, my nephews and niece. Puppy on the other hand, was ready to go home. When I told him we’d leave in a while he didn’t like it, but waited. My brother got there, then my sister-in-law, and so I was catching up with them as well. By now Puppy was even more bored and asking to leave again. My sister-in-law asked us to stay for supper, but still…Puppy wanted to leave. When I said to him we’d leave after we ate, he took a deep breath and walked to another room and screamed he was going to bit himself if we didn’t leave. I told him soon, let’s eat first. And he took his hand to mouth and bit down as hard as he could. His braces left a terrible mark and open wounds on the backside of his right-hand. He started yelling, “I bit myself hard!” “It hurts!” I went and found him sitting on the bed crying with his hand in the air. Puppy’s first response was he’s sorry. He knew it wasn’t good behavior and figured I’d be angry. I was, but it was done. My instinct is to comfort him. It may not be the right thing because generally it was giving him attention. But as I saw it, my attention did not reward him and we were not leaving. Instead, I did comfort and his wound was cared for with ointment and a band-aid; and we walked to the kitchen to eat.

I read his face and saw embarrassment. But he tried to make small talk with others just the same. By this time Ms. H had arrived to meet with us for the evening. He sought her undivided attention for a while before asking to go outdoors. He was fine for the remainder of the evening. This was the end of day one.

What caused his tantrum? I will never know. I can take guesses. I can speculate. But Puppy has autism and can’t tell me himself why he turned to self-injury. Something triggered it, but looking for attention was not it, because attention does not take him to another location like he wanted. He wanted to go home and probably wanted some of this day to have routine to it and ultimately…none of this day was familiar or routine to him.

Puppy is doing well now and looks down at his hand. “Why did I do this, mom?” I don’t have an answer.


Outlaw4Freedom said...

Thank you so much for sharing this story. I have students that engage in self-injurious behaviors (hand-biting, head-banging, pinching themselves, etc), and since most of them are non-verbal they can never explain to me why they hurt themselves. Just reading this story made me aware of the fact that maybe my students don't even want to do these things but something inside, whether an OCD or some other urge, made them go it. I always wonder if the regret it or are hurting later as they almost show no signs of remorse or pain. I have always believed that they do, but just can't express it like we can. Thanks so much for this insight.

Claire said...

I'm so glad you liked it. Sometimes being an adult doesn't give you all the answers. I never imagined it would be so difficult to communicate. I have learned so much from my son, and yet I feel like I know nothing about him. Thanks.