I wish I had known sooner, but this past Saturday, I picked my son up from his Personal Assistance worker and brought him with me into my classroom, where I had been working that morning trying to play catch-up with all of my lesson plans and grading no avail. He had no wanted to go this morning when she came to pick him up, but we had hoped he would get some time outside and I gave her some money to take him for arts and crafts. A few minutes into staying with me at school, he just came up to me and told me something that completely shocked me. The reason it’s scary trusting other people with your child when your child has autism is that there’s always a chance they take advantage of your child’s disability. My son’s inability to communicate effectively and his lack of understanding of appropriate social relationships it easy for someone to take advantage. So, I always wonder when my son behaves a certain way if there’s something behind it that he simply cannot tell me. You always try to believe the best in people, but you just never know. This not knowing is one of the biggest stressors in my life. Trusting others with your child when your child doesn’t communicate well about his day can be a scary thing.
In this case, it seems that, at least on this day, the person I trusted to take care of my son failed to do so. Perhaps she’s done this before. Probably she has. I wish I had known sooner. She terrified him. The first words that came out of my son’s mouth were, “Miss ***** drooled on me.” If he had told someone else that, the conversation may have stopped there or taken another turn, but I felt that that situation was really odd and I trusted that he was telling me something important, so I followed up with, “What do you mean? Did she do it on accident or on purpose?” He told me she did it on purpose because he had spit on her and then she had growled in his face, which scared him, so he bit her. I never could get him to tell me why he spit on her in the first place, but he doesn’t spit on people unless he’s upset about something and even then, that’s a rare behavior for him. He would not take the conversation further.
A little while later, I asked him what he did with her all day, and he stated he went to the park. I asked if they got out of the car, and he said that they didn’t. He’s always asleep when I picked him up, so I wondered what they did when I dropped him off with her. She’s usually pretty vague about it, but they’re supposed to work on skills, so they certainly should not stay in the car. I asked if they got out of the car at all that morning and he said they didn’t.
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I reported this incident directly to her supervisor and she’s no longer picking him up, nor is anyone else for that matter. I’ve been thinking for a while about dropping these services because he’s not wanted to go and we can handle things fine at home for the most part. Weekends get really rough because we lighten up on routine, but we’ve got everything else handled. The thing is, I got to thinking about the response to my calling in what happened and how there was no shock registered from the supervisor on the matter. It did not sound like this person who clearly did not do her job appropriately and had scared my child and, from the sounds of it, spit in his face, still would work with other children. I could not live with that. It tormented me for the next couple of days. Then, I made a decision and took the complaint further to our LME and questioned whether authorities should’ve gotten involved since I feel what she did was technically child abuse. I got a call back today and they have to take my complaint to someone else because an investigation has to be made into what happened.
I don’t know if I’ll ever know the extent of what happened, what the whole truth of the situation was, or how badly my son got treated. For a time, he enjoyed going with this person. Then, he didn’t. When I told him that he didn’t have to see her anymore, he jumped into my arms and gave me a giant hug. I rarely get real hugs from him. He felt truly joyous about not seeing her anymore–relieved, maybe? I feel bad because maybe I missed something for too long. All I can do now is try to prevent someone else’s child from going through the same thing. Because the other thing about autism and disabilities? They’re all on a spectrum. My son eventually found the words to tell me something. He’s verbal, so he could speak for himself. Other children cannot speak for themselves and need someone to protect them.
As for my son? I held him close and let him know that I am always here to protect him. I just wish I had known sooner.
Also linking up with Friday’s Blog Booster Party.