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.
FOR THE RECORD, YES, I KNEW HE WASN'T GOING TO GET OUT OF BED ALL SUNSHINE AND ROSES.
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 GIRL AND LITTLE BOY WERE KEPT SAFE, AND I FORMULATED A PLAN OF HOW THIS COULD BE HANDLED ONCE WE FOUND HIM.
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)