Monday 9 February 2015

Alexander and the Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day (personal edition)

To be fair, the day was actually going quite well until around 2pm.  Alex  had to go to the dentist and he was the most cooperative he's ever been.  And since there was another child screaming and throwing things in the other room, that was a huge deal.  We go to CHEO for his appointments, so we often see other kids acting out.

Later as we were leaving, we could see the child throwing another massive tantrum outside the gift shop.  It took ten staff members plus the parents to get the child out.  I had a lot of sympathy for the parents.  Little did I know that later it would be my turn.

Alex had a hard time settling after we got home.  Lots of complaining, lots of throwing things around.  Then, just as he started to settle it, it was time to go get Nathan, which he did not want to do.

He hit me just as we were leaving and then announced "time out" which told me he was attempting to manipulate the situation and avoid having to go.  I told him time out after and took him outside.  He began to hit and kick me on the way up.

When we arrived at Nathan's school, I settled us in an out of the way area close to where I normally pick Nathan up.  I kept Alex in a restraint grip and hoped Nathan would come out quickly.

As a child and his mother were walking in front of us, Alex wiggled free and kicked the child.  I immediately told him "No!" and apologized to the mother, explaining that he had severe autism and was in the middle of a meltdown.

The mother then proceed to scream at me that "monsters" like that should not be allowed in public. 

I lost my temper and shouted back at her that she had no idea what she was talking about and I didn't have any more time to waste on her (I think, I don't remember exactly what I said.  Doubtless it came out somewhat more incoherent than I'd like to remember.)

Recognizing that I was losing it, I turned my back on her.  I didn't trust myself to continue to deal with her.

She kept screaming at me, threatening to call the police, the principal and whoever else she could think of.  She called Alex a "vicious dog" who shouldn't be allowed out.

Two other moms came to my rescue and told her she needed to walk away and leave me alone.  She continued to scream at them for another few minutes before finally leaving.

The whole thing left me ready to cry and shaking.  It didn't help that Alex backhanded Nathan into the snow as soon as he arrived, leaving me to cope with one tantruming child and one crying one.  Eventually I did get us all home and Alex went into timeout.  He continued to act out again and again until we finally put him to bed at 7. (And we could hear him continuing to tantrum until well after 11.)

Now, I don't think I did anything wrong (except the shouting back part, which wasn't ideal).  I did the best I could under the circumstances and I feel no urge to further apologize to the other mother.  As far as I'm concerned, her behaviour was completely unacceptable and overshadows what Alex did.

My biggest concern is wondering whether or not the mother will feel the need to seek me out to finish her say.  However, if she does, this time I won't be distracted by dealing with Alex.  I also don't want her to think Alex isn't coming to the school because I in any way agree with her assessment that he shouldn't be allowed out in public.

These sorts of confrontations happen every few months.  People see Alex as a misbehaving or badly disciplined child and take it upon themselves to correct his behaviour.  (It's one of the big reasons that I want the service dog, as it will be a signal to others that there is something different with him.)  Usually, when I explain he has autism, they get sheepish or embarrassed and withdraw.  This is the second time someone has continued to attack after I explained (and in the first case, the mom was shouting at me in Mandarin and may not have understood my apology - also, Alex was three).

Dave and I have talked this over with our behavioural specialist and we all agree there is no further action to be taken at this time.  The last time Alex had a violent meltdown and attacked another child was in March of last year.  We are dealing with the aggression and the incidents are coming down.  We already have reasonable precautions in place.  We cannot be expected to control everything.

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