The past few weeks have been pretty good ones for Tate. He’s been engaging others more, using more spontaneous, appropriate speech, and exhibiting pretend play that we’ve never seen the likes of before. It has been uplifting for us..and he just seems more content…a win-win.
Of course, with the good, there are the not-so-good moments…and yesterday was one of them. Tate was with the social worker when I got to school. Initially it was an added session, as his typical Monday session had been cut due to a meeting. However, it was an opportune session for him because he had hit one of the classroom aides. *sigh* The aide that he hit is is his favorite. He loves her…but it just goes to show that when a breakdown occurs, he reverts back to rudimentary behaviors.
From what I was told, he was getting increasingly frustrated with an in-class assignment. He has OCD-like tendencies, as part and parcel of his diagnosis. He was struggling to write his numbers on his math assignment perfectly. He was starting to run out of time. He was frustrated, feeling overwhelmed, and getting more dysregulated as his medication window was closing. (We only get about 3 and a half good hours per dose right now.) His aide asked him to put the assignment in his folder for homework. He didn’t express his emotions verbally. Instead, he hit her. Upon hitting her, he had immediate regret…but was not sure how to express himself other than to whimper.
The social worker came and calmed him down. Once he was more regulated, after a brief session on the mini-trampoline, she did a complete social story with Tate. She talked about how classwork can be hard. She talked about how it is ok to get frustrated, but it is not ok to hit. She gave him some strategies to use when he is frustrated, like counting to 10 or looking at his picture of fans or of Doc McStuffins. (Those bring him to a happy place, they really do.) He drew a picture for his aide, and gave her a big hug and told her he was very sorry.
On the way home from school, during our entire 4 minute drive, he scripted the entire scenario. I could tell from his tone that he felt very badly about what had happened. He’s not a violent kid. He’s not typically aggressive…but when he gets to a dysregulated place where he can take no more, there are times when he is unable to access his tools..and he regresses to that scared little 3 year old who had no good way to communicate. I know that this is not the first time this has happened..and I know it won’t be the last…but it breaks my heart each and every time.
I know he had anxiety about school today…he was up at 4 am. He was not only up, but he was overly silly and giddy and script-y, too. Today is going to be a long day for him…and for all of the rest of us who are trying so hard to help him along in this world. So, just like he continues to work hard, we will work with him, reminding him to use his tools…his deep breaths, his pictures, his words. We will run through social stories with him. We will comfort him when a breakdown occurs, and help him figure out a different way to handle his emotions next time. Because there is always going to be a next time..and hopefully we can use these prior incidents as learning experiences and help him grow.