As we close in on the end of our third week of Kindergarten, Xander seems to be working into a routine. We are commuting 45 minutes each way in order for him to be in a school district that provides appropriate services. The last three weeks have been intense and were a strong reminder of how capable human beings are to adapt to their conditions.
The first day of school is always tough. Possibly more so for us parents, than for our children. We smile outwardly and cringe inwardly as the door closes behind them. It is an excruciating three and a half hours, wondering what horrors (because there’s no way they can be surviving without us!) our children are experiencing. What if… questions are non stop. Day one pick up you can feel the tension as we wait to scoop up our babies. The general sense of relief when they come out smiling is overwhelming. These were typically developing, normal children. Their parents were just as stressed as I was. It was nice to feel “normal” for a change.
Week one, at home, was difficult for Xander. I watched his SIBS (self injurious behavior) soar. He was hitting himself, and throwing himself into walls. He pushed his afternoon therapists away from him. He has never been so verbally mean. Telling me he hated me, that he wanted to die. It breaks your heart. This is the hard part, not just for me, but for him. He has to get these emotions that he doesn’t understand out of his body. Anger is the easiest emotion to understand, so this is how it comes out. I have, and always will be, his safe person. He knows that he’s supposed to use ‘nice words’, but he also knows I’m 100% safe. That I will take the hitting and kicking, and still fall to the floor and wrap him in a tight bear hug with my arms and legs to help calm him down. There were late night tears, and hopes of the next day being better.
It didn’t feel like it, but week two was better. Xander’s SIBS decreased, as did the angry outbursts. The interesting shift here, was the increase of physical affection. Xander struggles, as most ASD kiddos do, with physical touch. The mommy side of me jumped up and down at this new development. The behaviorist in me knew this wasn’t normal physical affection. Xander was pushing his whole body against mine, and pulling both my arms across his body. Nuzzling his head into my biceps. He was hugging for affection. He was hugging for pressure. For sensory input that was helping him cope with the over stimulation of having 24 kids, and no quiet time for three and a half hours. The behaviorist lost this tug of war, and the mommy chose to relish these moments.
As we close out week three, I’ve seen another shift. The SIBS still hanging around, but at a much more infrequent rate. Xander is still seeking borderline excessive amounts of pressure sensory input. He’s calm (well, calmer). He’s adapting.
It’s important to point out that where all of these struggles, and heartache has been happening at home, the only behaviors the school and his para educator has witnessed is mild difficulty with transitions. As we gear up for his IEP on Friday, we are presented with an ever too common struggle. Splinter skills, and fighting for the services needed based on Xander as a whole child. That, my friends, is another whole post 🙂