We met with Alex's school to discuss head-banging, bolting and the dog.
I brought along the big guns, our behaviour consultant and Alex's head therapist. And I'm glad I did. As much as I've been telling them that the safest thing for Alex is to ignore the headbanging, the school is always going to be skeptical of my opinion. I'm a parent and can't be trusted to be objective or accurate.
I understand their concerns. It's disturbing to watch Alex bang his head and visions of lawsuits immediately start floating through people's heads. But we pointed out a few things to them:
- The way Alex bangs his head is actually quite controlled and unlikely to cause concussive harm. Some bruises, maybe some cuts, but not a concussion since he is tightly controlling his neck and movement. It's not a whole body bang.
- We have demonstrated success across multiple setting and with multiple people for the ignoring it protocol.
- If Alex is prevented from banging his head (with a helmet or other interventions), we have historical records that show that the interventions increase the frequency and strength of the hit.
- Given that the head-banging gives him a sensory boost, it will never be completely eliminated. The goal is to keep it from increasing and becoming habitual.
They listened to us and agreed to continue with ignoring the head-banging rather than forcing Alex to wear a helmet full time.
For bolting, we suggested more frequent and consistent rewards during non-preferred activities. The rewards can be scaled down as necessary once the behaviour is under control.
Then we came to the dog, which may be more of a sticking point than I'd hoped. The school board is drafting new policies when it comes to service animals. I'm really hoping that they understand this is not a pet but rather a therapeutic tool to help Alex cope. They've asked for several documents from National Service Dogs, who have replied that they cannot provide said documents until after a dog is assigned. It's going to be a difficult process.
But one fight at a time. It looks like we've won the helmet battle (at least for now). So I'll take that.