Saturday, September 24, 2016

Always Prepare For The Worst Case Scenario...

We did our best to prep for middle school. We knew it was going to be a huge change for the Boy. Heck, it was going to be a huge change for all of us. I remember middle school. I remember the flood of emotions that were there. I remember the laughing, the tears, the uncomfortable times, the embarrassing times, the fun times with friends, the times I felt like a complete loser, the times of feeling that my parents just had no clue, and everything in between.

Was I really the best person to help a child with Autism Spectrum Disorder navigate his way through those halls??  Hell, I'm neurotypical and I had a hard time, who was I to guide him?

I'm his Mom, that's why it is my job to prepare him as best I can (and still can for the upcoming events in his life) for this little thing called middle school. I read books by some of my favorite authors in the field of autism. I asked questions and listened to advice from parents of other children who've already travelled down this road. And I had him help me in coming up with a plan of "how to help me succeed." His elementary teacher, Mr. R helped me to create an "All About the Boy" one page sheet that we handed out to his teachers at Middle School Orientation Night. We've had a FANTASTIC response to this one piece of paper---several have commented that this has helped them in dealing with the Boy, and have asked if they could also put a copy in with their Sub Plans for those times when someone new will be working with him. YAY!!!  This was exactly what we wanted. We also were aware that there may be some teachers who think this (meaning Autism Spectrum Disorder) is just a bunch of hooey, and that "these kids" just need more discipline, but we will deal with them when they show their faces.....for now, the Boy has an AMAZING team, and I am forever grateful.

No matter how prepared you think you are (and we try to prepare for the worst case scenario), there are going to be things that happen that completely throw you off guard...I blame this on kids in general; throw in autism and BAM!!, you get an adventure.

Just before my work day started on Monday, September 12th, I got a call from the Middle School asking me to please speak with the Boy. They wanted to know if I could calm him down, as he was screaming, yelling, and threatening to kill the next person who came near him (yes, I could hear him loud & clear as he was shouting, "I'm not coming to that damn phone to talk to that fat bitch!!").
That's when they asked if I could come up to the school to try to calm him in person. Remember, I work just down the hill at his former elementary school. Of course, I would. I quickly spoke to the teacher & Principal I work for, and was in my car.

When I walked into the Middle School, I could hear him. I was led back to a private area where he was. His Homeroom teacher, his Counselor, the Principal, and the School Police were with him, trying to calm him down. I won't go into what upset him, other than to say that his bus ride was not pleasant due to other students with different special needs bothering him, then once inside his homeroom, a classmate started egging him on, and he erupted like a volcano. The school Police Officer had to put my Boy in handcuffs--he warned me before he did it (the Boy had been trying to kick, bite, and was spitting at all of us), and it tore my heart into shreds, even though I KNEW it was for every one's safety.

Long story short, we found out what had happened, he went back to the classroom to clean up the items he had knocked over & thrown (desks, books, etc.), and we started to work on a plan to problem solve. We also knew that he was going to be good to no one that day, so he went with me.

Things went well until Thursday, September 15th.

Since the beginning of the school year (Wednesday, August 17th), mornings have not been pleasant with the Boy. Since he is now in Middle School, he has been difficult to wake. School starts an hour earlier than Elementary School did, and this is made even worse by the fact that his bus comes at 6:42 in the morning. Next year when he & the Girl will both be in Middle School, I will drive them, but since he qualifies for the bus, I have been cherishing not having to leave so early each morning---I still wake early to make sure he is up and ready for school; after all, he is in 6th grade.

This particular morning was the worst to date. He would NOT get out of bed. He started calling me names: "you fat whore," "f*** you!," "I hope you burn in hell," "I wish you would just die," and a whole slew of others. After 1/2 hour of trying to get him up, I warned him that I was going to get a glass of cold water and pour it on him if he didn't wake up, and he again told me to "f*** off." I took a bottle of water from the refrigerator, pour half of a measuring cup into a small glass, and threw it at his arm.


He got up swinging, attempting to punch me in the face, which I blocked with my arm, he managed to kick my shins several times, then after making his way to the kitchen, started throwing steak knives at me. By this time, it was 6:30am, and he took off down the street in bare feet and pj's!!

Phone calls to Mr. Sassy Pants were made (of course, this was a day he had had to leave extra early for work, so I didn't have backup), my boss (to let her know I was probably going to be late), and voice mails were left for his psychologist and his psychiatrist.


the Boy came home and was given 2 choices:
1) Get dressed and I will take you to school.
2) Get dressed and I will take you to the hospital (of course, he had no clue what a trip to the hospital would entail, but I needed some help because I was going to put a stop to this behavior and I needed reinforcements from the professionals---please....don't EVER be afraid to seek help if you or a loved one needs it). He chose the hospital.

I got the other kids to school (thanks to my amazing coworkers, the other 2 were allowed in the building early, and they were kept safe so I could help the Boy---I told my boss I would be a "little late" for work).

the Boy and I spent the next 6 hours at the hospital, with him being admitted to the adolescent psychiatric ward, where he stayed for the next 5 days, being released on Monday, September 19th. (PS I was a LOT late for work that day---I had no clue what was going to happen and just how long it would take).

Needless to say, this was by far, my hardest parenting day to date, and I'm hoping it never has to happen again, but like I said, we need to prepare for the worst possible moments, and we are learning as we go.

His week back at school was amazing, and I was so proud of him (still am), but yesterday morning, while on my way to work, I got a phone call to please come & pick him up, as he had punched someone.

REALLY?!?!?!? Well crap......yes, I'm on my way.

When I got to the Middle School, the Boy's Counselor pulled me aside and told me about what had happened. Apparently a teacher who wasn't familiar with the Boy, told him to remove the hoodie from his head, and he just kept walking down the hall to his homeroom. This teacher didn't take kindly to this happening, so she kept repeating, "take your hoodie off of your head young man" all the way down to his homeroom. Once he walked into his BSP homeroom (which should have been a clue to her that something wasn't typical about this student), she announced to his homeroom teacher, "THIS YOUNG MAN IS REFUSING TO TAKE OFF HIS HOODIE, YOU NEED TO DO SOMETHING ABOUT IT!!"

the Boy reared his fist back (I can only imagine how he was stewing as she was following him down the hallway) and he swung.  No one was in arms reach of him. No one except an unsuspecting classmate, whom he has an unpleasant history with---so much so, that the Boy refers to this other student as his "mortal enemy"----great. the Boy's mortal enemy stood there and said, "what the ???, I didn't do anything this time!"

The positive out of this incident is that the Boy was compliant with the Counselor when she asked him to please come to her office (YAY for no handcuffs), AND he was able to deescalate in a matter of about 5 minutes. These 2 things are SOOOOOO important and SOOOOOO huge, that when he was told that he was suspended for the day for hitting someone, I couldn't even be angry. Let me explain....I am NOT one bit happy that he punched (albeit inadvertently) his mortal enemy, I am pleased that he was able to calm down in a peaceful manner. Monday morning, his team and I are going to have a debriefing meeting to discuss how we can prevent this situation from happening again to the Boy or to any other students with disabilities. I am determined to turn this into a learning experience.

So there you have it......I have unavailable because the Sassy Pants Household has been in need of more TLC than usual, and they ALWAYS come first.

Little Boy is thrilled to have his big brother home. the Girl is not picking fights with either boy. the Boy is being compliant and is trying really hard to have more pleasant experiences.
AND.....they are all acting like they love each other for longer periods of the day than they have in the past.

We are back and let's let the shenanigans begin!!!!!

(PS as I get ready to publish this blog post, I see the issue with the size of the photo.....I will attempt to resize later when time allows)

Sunday, August 14, 2016

Changes Happen

So it's been over a year since I last posted here. If you follow me, you know that our Face Book page is where the action is at. I never promised to do this blog thing every single day. This is a way for me to keep track of life as we know it around the Sassy Pants Household.

So much has changed in the last year, and tonight has me reflecting on all of what has happened as well as being curious as to what is to come.

Last year I went back to work full time as a Paraprofessional at the school my children attend. I started out as a general education, then accepted a position as a special education para, working in a class with children who need help with behaviors. I was in the primary classroom, while the Boy was in the intermediate classroom. the Girl was in a 4th grade class right next door to me, and Little  Boy was down the hall. We decided to let Mr. Sassy Pants keep his job; who was going to keep food on the table if we allowed him to join us at the school??

At the beginning of the school year, we found out that starting in the 2016-17 school year, our district was going to have middle school be 6-8 grade. I was devastated. the Boy NEEDED another year to transition to middle school!!  How could he function without being in Mr. R's classroom?!?  Mr. R has been our saving grace, even tonight, but more about that later. I came to terms with it (what choice did I have??  I had to accept the fact that middle school will be starting sooner than we had planned, and make the best of it).

the Girl and Little Boy had no trouble adjusting to a new school, and made friends easily. the Girl tried out for Show Choir, and had a blast. Little Boy fell in love with Anna ("she gets me, Momma), and taekwondo remained every one's favorite activity.

So I sit here on a Sunday night feeling a mixture of emotions. The new school year starts on Wednesday, and while I'm excited for the fresh beginnings that come with a new school year, I wonder how it will be for the Boy in particular. You see tonight, the ugly side of autism decided to pay us a visit.

To an outsider it would have appeared to be two brothers fighting over an Xbox. In reality, the Xbox incident was merely the trigger for a child full of anxiety for the changes about to happen in his life; HELLO....MIDDLE SCHOOL!!! He couldn't tell me that this is what is bothering him; couldn't do it until just a little bit ago.

Sometimes when the "ugly" side of autism shows up, he calls me a "fat fucking bitch", an "old fatty fatty fat woman", tells me to go to hell, and many things that he would never ever say when he is not in meltdown mode. Punching walls is new too---I did make him get his sparring gloves out of his taekwondo gear bag because I really didn't feel like going to the ER. Taking all of his brother's clothes out of his dresser, then tipping the dresser over, then proceeding to destroy the bedroom is another new thing. To top things off, my 5'5" 11year old child took off down the street--of course, we have no sidewalks in our neighborhood, and I didn't know how far he would go.

So what do you do??  Stay as calm as you can, stay out of arms reach so as to not get hurt should he feel the need to punch, and wait it out. WAIT. IT. OUT. So very hard to do, but I have a husband who is coming around to understanding that we can't react when these meltdowns occur. WAIT. IT. OUT. Consequences can come later. WAIT. IT. OUT. Make sure he is safe. Oh yeah, an added bonus is when your husband tells your SIL to shut her mouth when she tries to give advice on how to handle the situation: "Sit down, shut up and let Mrs. Sassy Pants show us what we need to do!!" of my main character traits I always wanted in a husband was someone who was going to have my back; someone who would defend me. Mr. Sassy Pants has my back. His first priority is his wife and children.

At one point, I sent a text to Mr. R. I knew that he would get what was going on. He offered to call & talk to the Boy. I know that if I had asked him to come t our house to help, he would have. He is a man who loves working with these children whom others see as "problems".  He never takes credit for his students' successes, even though he is the one who helped them reach the point of be successful. He is our family's hero.

Anyway, meltdowns are exhausting. I can't even imagine how the Boy must feel when he comes down from this type of thing.

Tomorrow, the Boy will pick up the 2 packages of roofing tiles that he threw on the ground (I bet they weigh at least 50# each), he will pick up his Dad's ladders that WERE neatly stacked in the back part of the driveway, he will pick up the bedroom that he destroyed, and he will help with the list of chores that were already slated to be done.

For now, he will sleep it off. Tomorrow we will talk. Tomorrow is a new day to start fresh. Tomorrow is a day to learn from this. Yes, this meltdown was a learning experience. We will laugh and love and we will always be there for each other.