Saturday, January 26, 2013

Frustration Sets In



  As everyone knows, we all can become frustrated at times. This feeling is no different for children with autism. Mikey had always been a very sweet, calm child, and was never easily angered. He went about most of his days happy, giggling and smiling. Of course, it is only natural to have days that are not  good ones, and we began to understand how not being able to express himself could become a major source of frustration.
   When a typical child enters kindergarten, he or she is usually able to speak clearly, make his/her needs and wants known, and communicate well. This was not the case for our son. He was not able to tell us that he had a headache or an earache. He was not able to tell us how his day went or why he was upset about anything. He also, was unable to write, so his means of expressing his feelings were extremely limited. His
verbal limitations led us into an unfamiliar territory of headbanging.
  I remember one Sunday,  my father-in-law was visiting, and we were having a relaxed conversation. For some reason, Mikey became visibly distressed, although I could not figure out why. Mike's dad was getting ready to leave, and I was trying to walk him out of the house before Mikey's mood worsened. As we headed toward the door, I sat down on the staircase, hugging Mikey, hoping to soothe him. In an instant, he pulled his head back and thrust it forward into my head with such force, that my eyes immediately teared up.
I was stunned, and oddly enough , my feelings were hurt. Mike's dad didn't know what to do, and just looked at us with the saddest eyes I had seen in a long time. My husband heard the commotion and came in from another room to help. Then as fast as it had happened,he calmed down, looked into my eyes, and hugged me as tightly as he could. I do not know if he had felt bad for his actions, or felt bad when he saw my tears, but I do know that he felt badly. I held him tightly, and assured him that everything was okay, but continued to whisper in his ear telling him that it was not okay to hurt mommy or anyone else with his head.
   About 20 minutes later,Mikey had gone back to his usual jovial self. Yet, Mike and I could not figure out what had caused the aggression. We guessed at some possible causes, but could not be sure of any of them.While we sympathized with how difficult it must have been to not be able to verbally express his emotions, we also knew that we could not let that type of behavior continue. We had to figure out what had triggered this behavior, and how to handle it in a better way. Sounded great in theory, but in real-life, it  was a completely different story.

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