One minute I’m on cloud nine and the next I’m hitting rock bottom. Today I had to witness what no parent should ever have to witness: their child physically hurting another human being.
On Tuesdays, after Aden’s regular class, he has his individual session with his speech therapist/teacher. I’ve enjoyed watching these individual sessions over the past few weeks as I’ve began to hear Aden say more words and speak more clearly. Overall he does a great job transitioning and following directions. He is making progress and it shows during his individual session. His progress continues to give me hope.
Today was different. Today I watched Aden hit, kick, smack, pull-hair, and attempt to bite his teacher. Today I watched the ugliness of Autism. Trigger: Aden wanted to read a Halloween book rather than the book chosen by the teacher. He started by withdrawing from the situation. He moved his chair away from the teacher. His way of saying, he’s not interested. She moved him back and that is when it started.
It’s standard procedure to restrain a child and try to keep them in their chair. During this power-struggle, if the teacher gives in, the child wins. That can’t happen. Aden needs to learn that he can’t always get his way. He needs to learn that sometimes you have to do things even if you’re not interested. He needs to learn how to control his anger and express himself in a calmer way. Unfortunately, Autism makes all of this extremely difficult for him.
As I watched him, I experienced a range of emotions. First, I was angry and wanted to correct him. Tell him it isn’t nice to hit people. Then, I felt sad for him. It was heartbreaking watching him struggle. I felt sorry for the teacher who was enduring the physical abuse. She remained calm and composed. I wish I could say the same for myself. I fought back the tears but they came against my will.
After twenty minutes, Aden wasn’t making any progress. He continued to resist. I finally had to go into the room. When I entered, he looked relieved to see me but also sad. After a few more minutes, he sat in the chair. Win! But I still felt defeated.
On the drive home, I tried to talk to him. I told him we don’t hit people, we listen to our teachers, you know, the usual lecture. I told him it makes me sad. I said, “Aden, Mommy is sad” “Do you know why Mommy is sad?” He still has trouble processing and answering questions and I didn’t really expect an answer. Then he said in his sweetest voice, “I’m sorry Mommy”. I don’t think he understands the extent of being sorry but it still felt good to hear. I just wish that was enough to send me back into the clouds.