Tuesday, 25 August 2015

Ripples from a Bad Day

Yesterday, Alex found the spare keys to our upstairs rooms.  We keep our room and Nathan's room locked so that we don't have to worry about Alex going in and removing or destroying the things which are important to us.  It's a compromise we've reached between allowing Alex to move freely around the house and giving each of us a "safe" bubble.

I was working, so I wasn't supervising him closely.  Sometime within a twenty minute window, he found the keys, went upstairs and started helping himself to various items of fascination.  He took a number of my husband's models of F1 racing cars and some of my glass animals.  He also had a toileting accident in the room.

However, it was Nathan who bore the brunt of Alex's explorations.  Nathan is an avid Lego collector with dozens of completed scenes, vehicles and people.  His collection represents hundreds of hours of work which he's done.  Alex destroyed about a third of them to get at the individual pieces, which he then chewed beyond repair.  He ripped apart several stuffed toys to scatter the fluff and was beginning to dismantle the books on the bookshelf when I found him.

Being denied after getting a glimpse of the promised land led to a massive meltdown through the rest of the day.  I lost count of the number of kicks, hits and headbutts I received.  The worst was having to drive to get Nathan, where I literally could not restrain Alex.  The best I could do was to lean forward so that I was only periodically hit by the seat as he kicked it.

The worst part was seeing Nathan's face when I had to explain what happened to his room and his things.  He was as violated and devastated as if someone had broken into the house to rob him.  It was heartbreaking.

Today, Nathan didn't want to go back to camp in case Alex broke into his room again.  I've told him that I've confiscated the keys and I won't allow the therapists to keep them with the therapy things any more.  But he's justifiably skeptical of my ability to contain Alex.  We both know it's only a matter of time before there's another opportunity.

I eventually managed to convince him to try camp again with the promise that I would pick him up at lunchtime if he called to say he wasn't having fun.  I'm hoping they can lure him into forgetting and having a little fun. 

I can't really blame Alex for his behaviour.  I know about his compulsions, that's why the locks are there in the first place.  He literally can't control himself if he has access to these things.  (I do believe he can improve his reaction to losing it, hitting and kicking are not acceptable ways to express his feelings.)  I tried to hold on to my sympathy and understanding but it was difficult when it kept getting knocked loose on impact.  Eventually, Nathan and I both needed to withdraw, which we did when Dave returned home.

This is what I mean when I say my child had "a bad day".  It's not that he's whiny or cranky, it's he becomes physically dangerous and relentless.  It's not really something you can understand until you've had to deal with it.  There's a horrible contradiction between loving someone and wanting to protect and understand and help them and needing to protect yourself from them.

This is a blip (hopefully).  Alex's aggressive behaviour has certainly improved and he's much better about expressing himself in socially acceptable ways.  But it will likely take awhile before we finish with the ripples from yesterday.

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