Optical Ill-s

27 Feb

On weekdays, I enjoy the relative peace and quiet of a household with just Alphonse, his nannies, and myself. The addition of two grown, lumbering males in the household during weekends (Alex and his dad, the Big A) often screws up the delicate balance of things and I jump from one end of the scale to another to prevent it from tipping over. Sometimes, though, not even my magic supermom powers can stop our world from spinning off its axis.    

Teacher J was absent for most of last week to take care of an ailing parent. He also missed this week’s Monday’s session with Alphonse. As a result, our home schedule was shot to hell and Alphonse, short of declaring a sit-down strike, refused to work at any of the times his morning teacher was absent. During the week, we were able to coax Alphonse a few times to join his substitute teacher in the study room (his afternoon teacher serves as Teacher J’s sub,  as she willingly takes the slack when Teacher J is absent) but his sessions were often disrupted with aggressive episodes. On the last day of the workweek, Friday morning, he was dressed early and prepared to work again with the substitute teacher, but as soon as he noticed Teacher J’s absence, he ran back upstairs and huddled beneath a pile of coverlets. He squeezed his eyes shut, started a stream of verbal stimming, and refused to budge from under the sheets. We had to bodily drag him out of bed and force him back to the study room.

It was the same thing all over again Monday morning. Monday was a holiday and the boys were all at home. Aside from his teacher’s unexpected absence, this was another point for concern as Alphonse relates his brother’s and father’s presence with weekends of relaxation. We stuck to his schedule as best as we could but the unexpected changes  seemed to gnaw at him. He was impulsive and disorganized. He refused to look us in the eyes. He whined continuously. Many times, he would try to run off. By midday, he was visibly edgy and uneasy; we could sense that his mood was volatile and explosive. I crossed my fingers, took a deep breath, and mentally steeled myself for a full-scale meltdown. I didn’t have long to wait.

At lunchtime, while I prepared his food, he ran to the refrigerator and threw everything he could grab to the floor. The first casualties were a dozen eggs, followed by a Tupperware of leftovers, half a loaf of bread (which he casually ripped into little pieces), and a jar of peanut butter (which bounced, thanks to Skippy’s child-friendly packaging). Thankfully, we were able to stop him before he could throw away a week’s worth of provisions.

Broken EyeglassSince he was covered in egg yolks (and whites), he had to bathe again. While I supervised his bathing to give his nannies some time to pick up after him, he zeroed in on me. I was caught unaware when he deftly plucked my eyeglasses off my face and proceeded to mangle them with as much strength as he could muster. I was able to grab hold of the lenses to prevent him from smashing them to bits, but as I did, he twisted the frames more at the edges. And because he was still slippery and wet, we grappled a bit before I could get a hold of his hands.  By the time help came, he had completely ruined my only pair of eyeglasses (he had ruined my other pair a few months back and I haven’t had time to get another pair). I couldn’t even see him clearly anymore.
 
A took charge of Alphonse while I got dressed (in the tussle, Alphonse got me wet). I had actually anticipated this- prepared myself for it even- yet when it came, it still caught me unexpected. Alone in my room, away from Alphonse, I cried.  

Then I wiped my face clean and dry, and walked out of the room to meet a forlorn boy sitting by the steps of the stairs with his dad. He stood up to kiss me gently on the cheeks, a soft, tentative kiss, as if expecting to be met with anger. When I gave him a slight smile, he slid his arms under mine and hugged me. As he burrowed his head on my shoulders, I heard the faintest whisper.

“Ayayu.” (“I love you.”)

When our world spins off its axis, sometimes it takes its own sweet time coming back.
 

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8 Responses to “Optical Ill-s”

  1. FXSmom February 27, 2008 at 11:15 pm #

    oh man…what time with meltdowns. These kiddos just don’t do well with changes at all. Sorry about the glasses. Hope you can get some new ones real soon. Being blind is not fun.

    Just got my eyeglasses today, Beth. Alphonse eyes them every now and then, as if remembering the “fun” thing he did with the other pair. Another lesson learned: Never wear eyeglasses when Teacher is absent. Use contact lenses instead. Oh, my, parent training can be so complex at times!~♥Kittymama

  2. awalkabout February 28, 2008 at 2:08 am #

    Captain Oblivious also had serious reactions to any change in the routine. A substitute teacher in class always provoked at least one meltdown during the day. *shakes head* It’s so hard to deal with because it’s so different from the way I look at things…

    It’s still very hard to introduce something new to our lives- sometimes, they get assimilated easily; many times, it’s a struggle. Days like these are hard enough for us, what more for our kids who can’t get a grip on sudden changes. I’m just hoping these pass away soon. Thanks for the support, Babs. ~♥Kittymama

  3. megamomph February 28, 2008 at 1:02 pm #

    Are you a candidate for refractive surgery? Just a thought, since you can do away with manglings like this, considering how complex the rest of your life is.

    Other than that suggestion, am still struggling with ideas to help you. I really have been so clueless about the life you and A have been leading!

    I feel for you my friend.

    I’ve never really considered it, even after CV-C (best girl friend in high school), who is an ophthalmologist, asked me to check it out. I’m scared of the very minuscule failure rate (those whose procedures don’t work and refraction no longer work for them) because I can’t chance it. I make such a poor patient, boo hoo! But what do you think? ~♥Kittymama

  4. hyprsts February 28, 2008 at 5:53 pm #

    I hope this doesn’t sound arrogant but I have found that its best to prep ASD kids by giving them enough time to take in the changes in their schedule. Prepping would mean talking to them a great deal about it even if they appear distant about it. We have to trust them to understand and they reall really do…. Another thing is that if there are so many disruptions with very particular episode (time of the day or a person), is there an RPM way to know how he feels about them? … ASD kids pretty much act on intuition a great deal. It just manifests in ways that are odd to “neurotypical” folks. When I observe from a detached viewpoint and insist less, I find less resistance from them when needed.

    Since I found out last year that Alphonse can read, sometimes it does help that I write it down. (I’ve started imitating Susan Senator’s “books” for her son, where she draws and writes schedule and expected behavior.) Sometimes, though, he’ll say “Yes” but still insist on his own thing, like waiting for Teacher. Preparation always help, but not when there isn’t enough time for the information to sink in, as in the case of a missing teacher, who sends SMSs in the mornings to tell us if he won’t be coming. And still sometimes, I think he just needs to vent the only way he knows how. That, my friend, is my current goal- to teach him that it’s alright to be angry, but he can’t hurt himself or anyone else.

    Which reminds me, if Alphonse were only half as expressive as Henry…

    Henry to me: Oh, my, you are fat.
    Me to Henry: Yes, I am. That’s because I eat a lot.
    Henry to me: But I eat a lot.
    Me to Henry: Yes, you do.
    Henry to me(realizing what it means): Oh. My.

    …I wouldn’t mind being called fat. Haha. Your son amazes me! Hugs to Henry and Derek!

    ~♥Kittymama

  5. Julie February 29, 2008 at 4:06 am #

    Oh! and here I am, shaking my head hoping I dont try to bump it on the wall. You know why? When my two little ones are “fighting” and there is crying and angry words, I feel heaviness in my heart and ask myself if I had done something wrong with the way I am raising them. Then I talk to parents of my students who tell me that these scenes are “ordinary”.

    When I read about Alphonse’s outbursts, I feel ashamed for being so impatient with my children. I should take lessons of patience from you. I don’t know if I have the same resolve to be in your shoes for just a day.

    Oh, Trixie tells me she observes I am more patient with my students than with them. Sigh.

    Naku, Alex tells me the exact same thing. “Mama, you’re patient to everyone else except me.” Drama Prince! Haha!
    Seriously, I too have my moments of impatience and frustration. I’m not a saint, believe me (but A is). With Alphonse, we’ve learned to stretch our patience and understanding and love; it’s not always easy work, but we try. If we cannot find it in our hearts to forgive his mistakes, there can be no other sanctuary on earth for him. Sad to say that in this country, we are all he has. ~♥Kittymama

  6. hyprsts March 1, 2008 at 4:40 pm #

    Oh my! indeed!… When was this conversation? The walk? These kids never fail to amaze me, I tell you. Parents of neurotypical kids do not have the same opportunities as we do in discovering appreciation and unconditional love. I wouldn’t trade my life for anything. 😀

    Me too. (Yes, it was at the Angels’ Walk.) 🙂 ~♥Kittymama

  7. awalkabout March 2, 2008 at 11:23 pm #

    hyprsts, I appreciate your comment about notice of potential changes, and we do try to stay on top of those when we can. Nig changes–i.e. we said we were going out of town this weekend and now we find we have to change our plans– we do announce. But frankly, a lot of the time we don’t lay out a schedule, even if C.O. would like it–life isn’t like that. If at 12 he can’t adjust the the fact that the whole world doesn’t run on his schedule he will have some serious issues in the year to come. Better to learn to be a little flexible, we think. (I’m sure the school and therapist people out there will disagree!!)

  8. megamomph March 5, 2008 at 9:52 am #

    KittyMama,
    I can refer you the Vision Laser Center at St Luke’s. All the refractive surgeons there are well trained. The hubby is connected. At least have yourself screened, then make your decision afterwards. They will explain naman all the risks involved.

    Thanks, MegaMom! 🙂 ~♥Kittymama

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