The Dark Before Dawn

Sad manI hate it when I’m right.

At least about stuff like this.

My daughter is in full out behavioral free fall. Every negative thing she has ever done is being resurrected before my eyes, and I’m powerless to stop it because the only way to stop it is to have Caroline (aka school) leave for good. And I’m not going to cave in to those demands.

So Katie continues to escalate her behavior to ever more outrageous assaults—to Caroline, to Nate, to me, to the house and its contents. No matter how much stuff I strip from the family room/breakfast nook/kitchen area, Katie finds something to pound, throw, or otherwise destroy.

I’ve been scratched, kicked, and hit. Ive had things thrown at me. So has Caroline. Sadly, I’m the one with the most “instructional control.” It was hard won over the years, but it’s not helping much at the moment.

The one time I left for two hours for an optometrist appointment that I’d already rescheduled three times, Caroline and Nate called four times in a row to ask for assistance. Finally Dr. A pulled the pressure gauge from my eye and asked if I wanted to answer the phone. I did, but really, what can anyone do in the middle of an eye exam?

It’s not just challenging behavior we are grappling with, but also full-out sensory overload. I am well-versed in assessing Katie’s level of arousal and managing her sensory needs at home and in the community. But other than an hour spent with the reading tutor, I don’t have any experience in how to manage her sensory needs in a learning environment. So I’m feeling my way through this, and so far, it’s not going well.

MPj03960510000[1]The district’s occupational therapist is supposed to be helping us, but to date she’s been AWOL. The district’s behaviorist, like Caroline, is focused on the behavior. But as any parent of a child who struggles with sensory processing disorder will tell you, behavior that occurs during a sensory meltdown is not exactly voluntary. The child is in survival mode and the fight or flight  instinct kicks in. Many kids on the spectrum default to flight and bolt. Katie, however, defaults to fight. A sweet little girl who suddenly begins fighting like a wildcat seems to throw people for a loop. I’m used to it, but still, it’s no fun for anyone—me, Caroline, and least of all, Katie.

I need to figure out this new puzzle. The signs I’m used to seeing are either absent or hidden, so I’m navigating blind. I know one day I will discover the clue that ties everything together, but until then, I’m pretty much house-bound, helping Caroline when I should be working, promoting my new book, or focused on self-care. It sucks but something keeps telling me to stay the course. I can only hope this experiment ultimately pays off. Because really, what else can I do?

Until next time,

About Cynthia J. Patton

Writer, Editor, Advocate, Speaker, Special Needs Attorney, and Autism Mom. Also the Founder and Chairperson of Autism A to Z, a nonprofit providing resources and solutions for life on the spectrum.
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One Response to The Dark Before Dawn

  1. Pingback: A Question of Power, Part 2 | CYNTHIA J. PATTON

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