Friday, July 29, 2011

ill communication: trying to put what i feel into word and rhymes.

Over the past few weeks, Max has been exhibiting some aggressive behaviour at daycare. Because I'm not there when it happens, I have no idea what is leading up to the behaviour, how it is being reinforced (as in, how are the kids and adults reacting and are they doing something to make him think that continuing this behaviour is going to get him what he wants). Insult to injury, he is laughing after he hits or pushes his classmates, which makes them think that he is enjoying hurting them. I dread picking him up at lunch time because I know that his teacher is going to give me the "he had a hard morning and did xyz thing" speech and make me feel like they hate Max and wish he wasn't there. Yesterday I was informed he pushed three children and incident reports had to be filled out and today he pushed a child down the stairs.

The challenge of course, is that he is trying to communicate something with this behaviour, and he is doing so unsuccessfully. Now it has turned into a game to him. The laughing? Well, that is yet another example of how someone with autism does not always exhibit an appropriate emotional response. I doubt that he is in fact happy. Or if he is, then that is because he hasn't yet learned how to care about being liked by his peers. It's very upsetting on many fronts. Last year Scott wrote a guest post about a time where Max laughed hysterically in response to Scott having an emotional breakdown. We understand on a very personal level that it is hard to know what to think when Max's response is so far out in left field.

Since Max's behaviour at daycare is clearly escalating, we have decided to send one of Max's IBI therapists into the daycare to see what's happening and to give the staff some help and support in figuring out how to react when Max behaves aggressively. The entire point of him being at daycare is for him to have more opportunities to socialize and clearly this isn't going to happen in the current state. Scott told me this morning that his "heart breaks at the thought of the other kids being scared of Max" and truthfully, mine does too. Max is a sweet kid. These behaviours only come out when he is frustrated because he is having problems communicating.

Max's CDA (Communications Disorders Assistant), Tara Dawson, wrote a beautiful poem for Kim Pace which she read at Kim's funeral yesterday. I think it describes perfectly the patience and understanding required when working with and raising a child with autism.

To Kim, with love from all of the “little lives” you’ve helped along the way.

I flap my hands,
Make funny sounds,
And don’t look in other’s eyes.
I don’t understand emotions,
Or the benefit to try.

“A real handful”,
Others think.
I’m never the teacher’s pet.
Not toilet trained,
With others my age.
My pants were often wet.

Yet you came into my life,
And changed what others see.
Called me, “good boy”,
And “smart boy”,
‘Cause you believed in me.

You taught me “help” and “toilet”,
Rather than “thank-you” and “please”.
You understood when my engine was high,
And all I needed was a squeeze.

You were sensitive with my parents.
It’s hard- this wasn’t their choice.
And you let me though all obstacles.
And helped me find…
My voice.

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