August 30, 2011

Hands are Not For Pulling Hair

I found a parking space in the lot at school this afternoon, which meant I could get out and wait for Moe with the other moms Jelly likes to get out of the car too. She is perhaps a little too comfortable at Moe's school now, so I am constantly trying to keep her close to me and out of the way of the many parents and kids filing out of school.

This is not the kid whose hair Moe pulled.
But he's just as angelic looking as this girl.
Moe's class came out but I didn't see Moe. One of the classroom aides said he was still in the room and would be out in a minute with his teacher, Ms J. I figured she was changing his diaper or putting his shoes back on for the umpteenth time.

When they finally came out, she said "it was a rough day today." She then told me that Moe pulled a classmate's hair (the cutest, littlest boy's adorable red curly hair). Apparently, he's been getting more and more aggressive in class.

My hunch is that Moe is having a tough time adjusting going back to the full school day. He's been tired, and like me, when he's tired, he's on a short fuse. When Moe is frustrated, he needs that deep pressure input to calm down. So he bites or grabs or pulls. It used to be that he would bite a chewy or a toy if it was available. Then he started sometimes going after the closest adult, especially if that adult was the one causing the frustration. He's never gone after other kids before.

But a couple of days ago, Moe hit Jelly. He didn't punch her or anything, just kind of played the drums on the top of her head for a second. It surprised her, but nothing more. We didn't think much of it, as it wasn't even directed at her specifically; she just happened to be in the way. But now it sounds like other kids have also been at the receiving end. Today, Ms J said they did a slightly longer circle time and Moe was probably tired and wanted to go home. "If only we could give him the words," she said.

I'm trying not to overreact. On days like this, I start to feel that I keep losing more of my sweet, fun, happy, go-with-the-flow little boy and that nothing we are doing is bringing him back. I know that he is growing and changing. I know lots of little kids can be aggressive. I can even tell myself that frustration is good - it means Moe has an opinion about how he wants things and might even get motivated enough to use some words. But this type of behavior is scary, and the only thing I can think right now is "I don't want this."

Last month, we were approved by the regional center for some one on one behavioral therapy services. I got in touch with the provider today and scheduled our intake appointment for later this month. I am thankful for this help, although 12 hours a month doesn't seem like much. I have such a huge list of things I want to work on, from adaptive (self-help) skills and toileting, to safety concerns and aggression. I don't even know where to start.

What is so frustrating about Moe's autism is that I never know what is coming next, but there is always something. The issues just seem to pile one on top of the other. In addition to the aggression, we're dealing with spitting, screaming (a high pitched blood-curdling screech that I'm sure has caused me permanent hearing loss), putting everything in his mouth (including leaves and flowers when we're outside), as well as the constant taking off of shoes, and the things we've had for a while like running off, taking off his diaper, stealing food, and generally getting into everything. That's not to mention the "regular" autism stuff: issues with regulation, inconsistent sleep patterns, lack of speech and communication, and fine and gross motor delays.

We came home from school, and Moe crashed on the couch, all giggles and smiles. Jelly is currently chasing him around the house, imitating everything he does, and shouting "come one Moe!" and he doesn't seem to mind. I hope tomorrow is a better day, but for now I'm soaking in this little bit of happiness. I might need the reserves later.


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