When it All Began, Part 2

If you missed Part 1, read it hereWhen it All Began, Part 1“.

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…There I was, in my first semester of study, a mere few weeks into the term and I get the phone call – the kind of call that makes every parent’s heart ache, that makes their heart pound with fear. Only, little did I know that that first phone call would be the first of many. I still to this day, 3 years later, feel that bit of fear whenever the school calls. Waiting. Expecting the worst…preparing myself for what they are going to say…

“Ms. Patti, this is — School calling. Wesley attempted to leave the building today, bolting out the door, yelling that he was going to go home. When the staff chased after him and brought him back into the building, he began physically attacking faculty members (kicking, punching), crying, and screaming, and had to be restrained. Your mother came down to the school to help out as we could not reach you at the time. Wesley has since calmed down and returned to the classroom.”

I remember that first phone call so well. The pain and fear of hearing that my son 1. was so disturbed that he wanted to run home, 2. physically attacked someone, and 3. had to be physically restrained until he “calmed down.” I left school as soon as I had received the phone call, too upset to stay. Telling my professor, in tears that I was barely holding back, that my son needed me and I had to leave.

There were numerous times in kindergarten that this happened. There were times when Wesley was not able to calm himself down, that my mother left work to pick him up, then took him to work with her until I was able to get home (40 min. drive without traffic) and pick him up. I remember the hopeless feeling, knowing that there was something going on with my son and not knowing what, or why. Just knowing that he was hurting, that he was afraid, and in some serious pain, lacking the words and the capability to put words to his emotions in order to express them appropriately.

There was no denial, I’m not one of those parents who turns their heads and says “no, my child doesn’t have a problem;” rather, I’m one of those few parents who says, “my son needs help. This is not normal. What can I do? Who can I see to get help for him?” And, knowing that dropping out of University myself and homeschooling him wasn’t the right option, that that wouldn’t be helping him learn social skills…

The school was no help at that point in time. None. Did he get put on an IEP? Sure. But that’s where the buck stopped. Did I express my concerns to Wes’ pediatrician? You bet. And, a rather lax approach was taken. I wasn’t taken seriously…

Then, we hit a second speed bump. Wesley was being kicked out of the after school program at — School. The Director could not and did not want to handle him. He climbed up the slide instead of sliding down it, tossed wood chips when he became upset, used inappropriate language, and – here’s the last straw that got him kicked out – blew raspberries at the Director.

So here I was, back at University myself, fairly recently divorced, living with my parents, and raising two boys on my own – And, not two “normal” boys, but two boys with special needs…Seamus with his low muscle tone that he had been seeing specialists for and undergoing various tests to rule out some potentially serious disorders, and Wesley with these challenges making themselves quite known – and, wondering now, what on earth was I supposed to do? Who was going to watch Wesley? How was I going to stay in school and finish my degree on top of all of this?

The YMCA took Wesley into their after school program, stating in their handbook that they worked with children with special needs. And, they did the best they could for as long as they could…

So, the kindergarten year was met with a flurry of phone calls, a lot of heart ache and heart break. Tears, so many tears. And anger. I became so angry with Wesley, with the situation – why couldn’t he behave himself? Why couldn’t he express himself using words instead of fists and feet? Why, why, why?

As time went on, the anger decreased. At first, I think I lost the energy to be angry. Then, I realized that my being angry wasn’t helping the situation. And, I also began to realize that no matter how many times and different ways I’d say and show Wes that physically reacting to a situation is not acceptable, he did not understand and still does not really understand. That this situation, this behavior, went far beyond a child who was misbehaving…there was far more going on than the garden variety behavioral problem.

To be continued…

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