This is why I write semi-anonymously. This is why there are no pictures of Ben on my blog. I don’t have anything to hide. I tell it like it is. Today was a bad day.
Ben is now on Winter Break until January 6. He’s been doing great at school every day according to the notes coming home from his teacher. He did great during the Holiday Show, which we missed because Older Daughter is very sick and didnt want to expose everyone else. We paid for a DVD of the show, so we’ll get to see Ben’s performance later. Anyway, he’s been great at school and pushing buttons at home.
All week he has been doing things he KNOWS he’s not supposed to. We know things are different, we expect issues, we are compromising and being understanding… to a point. Some things are not okay. Full stop. Autism is not an excuse.
The button pushing in the form of shooting us with his nerf gun even though he knows Not At People or Pets or trying to break down the back gate or screaming in our faces was building all day. We tried to keep the tension level down, tried to be silly, tried to explain without anger. It didnt matter, he was building up or had built up and needed to explode. So he did.
He had been pushing all day, but around 2pm he jumped up, went outside and started beating on a plastic laundry basket with a broom handle. Not great, but better than some things he does. Then he started sweeping, he likes to see the dirt particles in the air, plus it’s a workout, vents some energy. I relaxed until I heard a bang and went to see what made the noise. He had managed to pull a piece of siding off the house.
I told him to go back inside and tried to at least get the piece off the ground and leaning against the house. Another thing that needs to be fixed… (I hate the holes in the walls and doors, the broken tiles, all the broken things.) It was too heavy for me, Older Daughter came to help me, and we got it up and leaned against the house. Then we went back inside with Ben.
He had grabbed her phone, so she took it back from him. He then hit her. I was in my room and didnt see what happened but I heard her tell him that hitting is not okay. He kept pushing at her buttons, I dont know exactly what because I stayed in my room, but I heard her tell him to stop hitting her.
The next thing I know, he bounces onto my bed and punches me in the ear. I had my back to him so I wasnt expecting the punch. I took the full force of it, the earpiece of my glasses broke and my ear was ringing. I started crying from shock and pain. Of course, that was the worst reaction I could have at that moment as far a his meltdown goes. Calm and businesslike is the ONLY way to prevent further escalation.
Older Daughter heard me and came into my room. He ran outside and started trying to bust the gate again. She brought him in and we spent the next two and a half hours trying to keep him and ourselves safe. We even tried putting him in cool shower hoping to shock it into stopping. He wanted to go. Just go. Just run away. But that isn’t a safe solution.
He was laying on the floor kicking the front door. We have a lock that needs a key to open it from inside too, but him kicking the door jiggled the lock enough to come undone. So I had to sit against the door. Older daughter was already sitting against the door to the backyard which he’d broken the key off in the lock, so we cant lock it.
We had each tried at different times holding him, using pressure, counting, breathing…all the things we know to use. We left him alone except to prevent him from leaving the house when nothing was helping. He continued to try to push us away from the doors and hit.
Daughter had to use the bathroom, she got up and went. He went straight to the door and outside. He broke the gate and came back in the house. It’s like the meltdown couldn’t be officially over until the gate was broken. That’s an ugly reality of autism. For us and for him.
He’s an eleven year old kid. Sometimes he does stuff because it seems like a good idea at the time, just like any other eleven year old child. Then there’s days like today. All three of us are physically bruised. Us from being hit, him from self injury and thrashing against us trying to hold/restrain him. What is worse is the mental and emotional bruising. Older daughter and I have PTSD from the abuse of my ex, her father, so when Ben hits us, it brings that back too. Plus, getting hit isn’t fun at anytime. I can’t even imagine how trapped Ben must have felt. Or IF that’s what he felt or thought.
We second guess everything we did or didnt do with Ben after a meltdown like that. How can we handle it better? How can we prevent it? CAN we prevent it? How do we keep him safe? How are we going to keep ourselves safe as he gets bigger and stronger? Why??
I’m tired and I hurt. I hope he got whatever was bothering him out. I write about this not for sympathy, but to let other people in the same or similar situation know that they aren’t alone. Days like today can make a person feel like a failure and like the worst parent ever. It can be isolating. It hurts.
I hope tomorrow is better for him and for Older Daughter and for me.
(featured image is mine)