Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Time heals slowly

I cannot believe how quickly the days are just flying by.  I think it's sad that I noticed time by measuring the appearance, and now the slow disappearance of Puppy's physical red scars on his face and arm.

President's Day weekend was a four day break for Puppy.  I had written that the school had a book fair before the weekend began and the book he bought became Stuff in his pockets. This was Thursday before the break that his teacher had been in our home and had told him he would spend time at the library as part of his consequences when he returned to classes on Tuesday, February 21.

When Tuesday came around, Puppy was so nervous I was barely able to get him on the bus because he was experiencing anxiety attacks in the morning.  I can't predict the behavior on the bus so it has happened before that I will drive him myself if he is unable to calm down enough to get on the bus.  I finally must have said the words he needed to hear and he was on his way to school with the other students on the bus.

I texted his teacher to give her a head's up.  She would let me know how the day went.  And his day began.  It must have seemed like the day was never going to end for Puppy.  When he arrived his teacher said she was going to check with the librarian for a work schedule and left Puppy to explain the reason for the consequence to the teacher aide.  She has earned his respect and when she said he would not be allowed in her group that day, he assumed the worst.  To Puppy, the worst is being placed in the baby chair between two severely autistic students.  This assumption created an anger in him that I had seen many times before.  He escalated into a meltdown by screaming foul language, hitting desks, and horribly scratching his arm and face deep enough to need attention from the school nurse. In the process of causing self-injury, his teacher went to hold his hands and was successful but only after she received a punch on the arm from him. She told me that his yelling called attention to others passing by the classroom and every time someone peeked in he would scream loudly at them and struggle to get lose from the her grip.  It took a while before he was able to calm down and was released. When all was calm, his teacher texted me and then we talked on the phone to discuss what had happened.  She assured me it was fine and there was no need to pick him up.  Not much later, she walked him to the nurse's office where he was treated for his injuries.  The nurse called me to report the incident and again I was told the cuts were serious but he was calm and not asking to be picked up, he'd return to class and finish off his day.

I called his daycare to let them know that there was an incident in the morning at school and that he was alright.  That they were to ignore the scratches, not entirely but not to give them too much attention.  He also did well that afternoon.

I can't explain how I felt when I saw him at first.  My heart sank so deep for him, I felt a lump in my throat. How does a parent fix this?  Just because he was calm and moving forward, he was not fine. I was not fine. My mind searched for answers. How do I console him? How can I heal his pain?

I remember when it was bedtime...he said he was going to pray that he'd wake up all better.  I joined him in prayer. When I went to wake up the next morning, he pulled out his arm from under the covers.  He stared at it and asked, "Why is my arm still red with scratches?"  I worried that the events of yesterday would be freshly on his mind again. I was lost for words.  All I could say is they will go away slowly with time, time heals all wounds.  Sadly, the physical wounds are reminders for a longer time than we wish them to be.


Anonymous said...

Oh it's so hard isn't it. Why can't people see how their words lead to such terrible anxiety for kids with autism and keep things on the level of calm consequences and not punishments or things to be feared or dreaded. It sounds like you and your son have a pretty special relationship and that you are a huge advocate for him. I look forward to reading more of yours posts.

Claire said...

Thank you for reading between the lines. It true how every word spoken to Puppy affects him and brings out a reaction whether good or not good. The fact that his vocabulary is limited makes it a challenge in it self to find the right words he already knows.