There are parts of autism that I have learned to be ok with. In some cases, I have even learned to embrace. I have made Autism our normal. For example, Courtney’s talker. Do I get frustrated that my daughter is non-verbal? Yes, but that’s who she is and we have made it our normal. We have found ways for her to communicate and we make it work. I embrace her endless energy. Climbing furniture has also become our normal, I even have made her middle of the night wake ups my normal.
There is one behavior I struggle accepting. One that I don’t want to make our normal. It’s her aggressive behaviors. Two years ago just around this time, Joe and I met with the school psychologist to start working on what is called a Function of Behavior Assessment (FAB) and a Behavior Intervention Plan (BIP) because she had started biting and scratching at school. Not frequent but frequent enough that we wanted to find the function of the behavior and nip it in the butt. At that point we were hoping it was a short phase as she adjusted to being in school.
Two years later this short phase is still going on. Fortunately, when all is well in her world it doesn’t happen that frequently but often enough that data is kept on the behavior and all who work with her are on guard. Often enough that I worry daily about it. Truth be told, isn’t any aggressive behavior too often? Who wants to see their child hurt someone or them self? When the aggressive behaviors started two years ago it was towards others. Now it’s to herself.
As I’ve talked about a lot recently, she has been really struggling as of lately. It appears she’s in some sort of pain but because she is unable to verbalize this pain, she is expressing it through biting, pinching and scratching herself and others. Self injurious behaviors that are so intense and frequent that they leave bruises. Just as some bruises disappear, more appear. Bruises that remind me during the times of day that she is her happy self just how much she is struggling. My heart breaks every time I see the bruises.
This afternoon she had a pretty tough meltdown at my parent’s house. I was able to see the ache in their eyes as they watched me try to keep their little grand baby from hurting herself. A look I will never forget. Last week I came home from her parent/teacher conferences to her other grandpa holding her to keep her from biting herself. Again, another moment I will never forget. These moments were painful to experience and watch as her mom.
I know this is a rough patch and that it isn’t our normal. But what is our normal is always wondering when we will hit an awful rough patch like this again. It is our normal to get a monthly report from her home therapy the average aggressive behaviors that have happened per session. It is our normal to get a sheet with her progress report every trimester that shows the average aggressive behaviors per day. It has become normal for me to subconsciously flinch when she’s crying and she comes close to one of my body parts. It is a normal that I will always struggle with. But it is also Courtney’s and my normal to end every night laying in my bed until she falls asleep. I watch her on her iPad as her body calms after a long day. It’s a peacefulness I love to watch. It helps ease the tough moments from the day.