The other day, I got a kick in the head. I’d like to say it was an accident. That he didn’t mean it. That he was hyper and flipping around like he usually does and his feet just landed on me. But the truth is, my son kicked me in the head. On purpose. All I wanted to do was get his socks on him and get ready to go to camp, which he really enjoys going to. But he, instead, kicked me in the head.
We were running late. The sensory diet that OT started us on last week went out the window because he was fighting me on that, too, and I couldn’t get him to cooperate with me. His only job in the mornings is to get his shoes. That’s it. I gave up on the socks and told him to get his shoes. I’d just get his socks on when we got to camp and he was stuck in his seat. He ran around the living room wildly and starting going after the dog. The poor, patient, ever-suffering dog. I told him to leave the dog alone, which only made things worse. He shoved me a few times. I always try to catch him and redirect, but he’s strong. The he took a shoe and threw it at the dog. He missed, picked it back up, and took aim again. He missed. He picked it up again…I came over and took the shoe. I got shoved again.
Finally, even though we were running late, I used the element of surprise and quickly scooped him up and carried him to his room before he knew what was happening. I told him he was not allowed to treat me or the dog that way. It was time for a time-out. Time-outs are not effective for long-term treatment of the problem, but it gives me a break and the dog needed one, too. It also gives him a chance to calm down. Hopefully. It doesn’t always work, but sometimes it does. While he was in his room, I got everything to the car.
I made him tell me why he was in his room when he came out and he apologized. It’s mechanical, but I feel like he needs to acknowledge what behavior is acceptable and what isn’t. He knows. He got his shoes and we left.
We had karate that afternoon. Usually he does well in karate. Not this day. He did not want to participate. He ran rampant. I could not control him. He literally ran circles around me. This is where I wish I had the strength and vitality to do what needs to be done. We would’ve been out of there so fast! He clearly was off that day and could not handle being there. I could tell at the beginning of class that he was off–he was scratching at his skin and pulling at his karate uniform. He doesn’t usually do those things. Anyway, it was pretty awful. I don’t entirely blame him for his behavior. I think he was on overload and afterward he told me in his own way that his afternoon had not gone the way it usually does with his mentor, so I think he was just completely thrown off by that, too. I was thankful that there was another Autism mom there to help talk me down after my friend, who co-owns the place, put Squeaker in a time-out there. I was at the end of my rope and feeling really shitty about not being able to handle the situation.
And that’s the issue, really.
It’s not that I blame my child for being who he is. I have come to understand that we need to find some strategies for dealing with these behaviors. Something is off with him. He has started eating non-food items like marbles and paper and cardboard. This aggressive behavior has only just begun in the past year. He is picking mercilessly at his fingers–to the point where they are bleeding. So, there is just something not right. I’m going to make an appointment with his pediatrician and figure this out. And I’m still waiting for Easter Seals to get back to us on this Intensive In-Home thing.
My problem is that my ability to physically handle things is diminished greatly because of my back problems. And I have been unable, really, to have that dealt with beyond physical therapy, which is really my only option at this point. No doctor is going to do surgery on a 31-year-old woman only she insists on it because it’s a major surgery and it alters the structure of your back. I don’t have time for the recuperation, anyway. So this is where I am. Physical therapy, which feels, really, like a huge waste of money, though the therapist tells me that I have increased my flexibility. My back doctor tells me the depression and lack of sleep intensifies the amount of pain a person feels, which is something that my therapist also tells me. But, you know, that razor-sharp pain that shoots down my leg when my son fights against me? I don’t think that’s depression pain. I can buy that my everyday pain may be intensified by my depression, but not that.
I don’t know what I expect. There is not magical answer to my problem. It’s something I have to live with. It’s a confounding factor. And my son is smart. Both of my kids are. They know that if they sit down on the ground and refuse to move, they make things drastically more difficult for me. The more difficult things are for me, the longer they can put off having to do whatever it is they don’t want to do. And that’s what kids do. And that’s why yesterday, when I had my appointment with my physical therapist and then my doctor and I realized there was no fixing my back, I slipped into a state of depression for the rest of the day. I felt so numb that when my son threw a cup at me, I didn’t even flinch.
You see, the other day, my son kicked me in the head. But the idea that I have to live with this problem? That my children can get away with sitting down and not budging when they don’t want to do something, even if it’s just for a couple of minutes? That they could even put themselves in a dangerous situation and I may have to rely on adrenaline alone to protect them? That I don’t go anywhere by myself with both of the kids because of this. That’s a kick in the head, too.