meltdowns

So after being away on vacation for a week I knew behavior challenges awaited me at school. Having a sub has its pros and cons like anything, my little guy was of course the perfect angel for the sub waiting to show his anger and confusion for when I came back. The first day back (yesterday) was ok, no major incidents but definitely a lot of boundary pushing going on.

Today was a different story. Not only was he pissed at me for leaving, but we had an unusual schedule. For those of you who’ve worked with kids with autism, you know that changes, like in the typical daily routine, are challenging. I took a deep breath and prepared myself for an uphill climb. At around 9:00am we had PE. This was bad for several reasons, kiddo does not like PE because he’s kinda large so he gets hot, doesn’t like to run, and has a really hard time understanding and participating in cooperative games. And it was basically our first activity for the day. After I put the PECS icon in his daily schedule he gave me the “there is no way in hell I’m doin’ this lady” look and promptly fell to the floor writhing in imaginary pain. After he stopped yelling I simply pointed out that he would not get to use the computer as scheduled if he didn’t go to PE. So reluctantly he got up and walked to the field. I crossed my fingers and gave the lead teacher a little grimace. She knew I was in for a meltdown.

I coaxed and cooed him into line with the other kids, they were doing relays. When he saw they would be running he began hitting his forehead with a closed fist, a very typical escape behavior for him by the way. I allowed him to observe for quite awhile before suggesting he take part. The other children encouraged him to have a turn and then he was up, smiling and ready to run. Ok, I thought, he’s past it, this thought of course coming too soon. When he got the signal to run he took maybe three steps, hit himself in the head, and crashed to the ground, to the great dismay of the poor regular ed teacher. I knew he wouldn’t move for anything, she tried to get him out of the way. In the end, we moved the relay races to another part of the field so that he could commence with the meltdown. When PE was over he decided to get up and trudge back to class. I was not happy and he knew it. He kept saying, “I’m sorry boo.” By the way he is essentially non-verbal so for him to say that in context was pretty huge, but it wasn’t the time for celebrations.

It’s days like these when I want to throw up my hands. When I feel like maybe I just don’t get it, and maybe never will. Even though he is capable of so much, I can’t force him to do anything, especially because he’s bigger than me. I do know that if I stick to my guns and don’t give in to the meltdowns, it’ll get better. And by the way he did not get computer time today.

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