He runs to make his mind still, to organize himself and to get rid of the noise from this loud, confusing world. The more he's moved, the more he's introduced patterns and rhythm into his routine. Laps around the house are a daily ritual. He's made it more complex as he's developed, but the basics are the same. There is a pattern of movement -- specific foot patterns based on whatever song or chant he chooses to accompany the run, and he can not be stopped until he is ready to be.

This is James, and this is our story.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Help Him

Today was James' first day of school.  I knew he would be anxious, so I tried to make everything as low key as I could, but it was a day filled with trials.

The rain was pounding, and his bus never showed.  Driving to school he started melting down. 

His clothes were uncomfortable. his feet were wet. His throat hurt. He was too tired. It was going to take too long to get to school.  He was going to be late, so he shouldn't go at all.  He was about to throw up.

I managed to get him in the door and he was whisked away to class.  I went back out in the rain, hoping that things would turn for the better.

And I waited.

When his bus didn't arrive home on time, I waited.  And paced.  When it finally got to our house 35 minutes late, I asked if it had left school late.  No?  I tried not to sound surprised, like I thought an hour and a half was a normal length of time for a bus ride home.

I let him play on my iPad, trying to make sure he was relaxed before starting his work.  Homework is always a struggle for us, and causes meltdowns daily. We've learned to handle it by taking a lot of sensory breaks for him to run laps and re-organize.

I took a look at the homework sheet -- it was a list of 10 basic questions to let his new teacher get to know him better.  phew.  We would ease our way into the year.

Little did I realize the firestorm that was brewing inside him.  At the 1st question, he began to tear up.  By the third question, he was screaming and crying uncontrollably.  He screamed "I QUIT" repeatedly at the top of his lungs and took swings at the air, trying desperately to take his frustration out on something.  On anything.

I'm used to the tears, but the anger and outbursts are new this summer.  We took a break and talked about the questions, about how he could answer them.  I agreed to help him with ideas and spelling, if he would pick an answer from the ideas and choose the words himself. 

We made it through a few questions at a time, each one adding more fuel to his internal fire.  By the time we got to the 10th question, we were both a complete mess, although I was trying my best not to show it. 

The 10th question is the only one he answered on his own.


Anonymous said...

oh my goodness...I'm in tears here...
I hope you hand it in like that. It's important for him to feel heard, I think.
(and 90 mins on the bus? I think that's not right...)

Anonymous said...

Oh, God, this breaks my heart because I can so imagine his frustration and rage. So many feelings and nowhere to put them or even knowing HOW to do it. I hope his teacher steps up to the plate and does exactly what he is asking.

krismac said...

thanks both. I know, my heart was breaking too. It is so painful to watch him get so frustrated, but at the same time, I'm really proud of him for writing this clear message. At least he is in the perfect place where his support team will both hear and respond.

I knew when I sent him across the city to school that the bus would be an issue, and it usually isn't that late, so I'm looking forward to getting into a rhythm and a schedule in the days to come for both the bus AND the homework (although I might write the same note to his teacher if this keeps up!)

Jeanette said...

So I realize I'm late with this post, but just catching up and I know you understand. Homework and the long day at school is hell for Dan as well and this Friday he was in tears as I picked him up (in an attempt to create a Happy Halloween weekend by not taking the bus home, needless to say it wasn't in the cards) because as he started to tell me after the meltdown in the hallway and parking lot is he is "trying my best and ask for help, and you and Dad said to do my best and not worry about the grade, but someone has to tell Ms. D, cuz she doesn't understand". My heart broke then and again when I saw James answer. How do we as parents bridge that gap between home and school? Each year I ask myself this question and each year I'm still no closer to an answer.