Sadly I didn’t post yesterday because my child was home sick. And though he spent the majority of his day behaving as if he felt perfectly fine, Connor seemed to need me close at hand.
It all began Wednesday afternoon…
At the school to pick up Connor from his preschool class, I heard a wailing sound. I knew that sound! It was Connor, crying and screaming as his teacher tried to put his backpack on him. Usually Connor loves to go home! But this was an early day, so maybe he was thrown off schedule. Ok, well, we’ll roll with it.
His wonderful teacher, Mrs. S, explained that he had seemed tired and restless towards the end of class. Odd, I thought, he slept a good 11 hours the night before, plus he’d been eating everything in sight for the last 48 hours (granted that was only if his favorite foods were in sight). Maybe he was growing, which can be a tiring and sometimes painful process.
Off we went to the house, where we were met by Connor’s new after-school therapist. As part of his ABA therapy program, Connor gets 8 hours of ABA at school and 4 hours at home. Wednesday was his first in-home therapy session, the first time he’d worked extensively with this particular therapist. I was prepared for some tantrums, or at least a little whining.
Connor surprised me by being friendly! He immediately engaged in cooperative play, as well as verbalizing on demand. I thought, great! I’ll just go do some dishes in the kitchen.
That was a mistake! When will I ever learn?????? If something is going WELL don’t do anything to change the formula!!! Duh! Rookie mistake, Erin!
Of course Connor devolved into a crying, clinging mess when I tried to leave the room. Even after I’d sat on the ground with his therapist and become his living tissue, it still took 20 minutes for Connor to fully calm down. Though that’s not atypical for children with autism to tantrum for extended periods of time since they often lack the ability to regulate their emotions or to self-soothe, Connor had improved so much recently in his self-regulating that 20 minutes straight was a long time for him. I simply took it as another sign he was tired.
After therapy we spent the rest of the afternoon just playing outside with the garden hose, watching Toy Story and playing matching games on the iPad. 6 o’clock rolled around quickly enough, and since it was Wednesday (my night to go out) the sitter arrived and took over with minimal upset. Returning from our dinner and a movie night, my boyfriend (TS) and I found Connor fast asleep. We followed suit and quickly went to sleep ourselves.
THANK GOD TS had stayed over!
Around 3 am I hear crying and the sound of running feet. Connor jumped into bed and snuggled up to me, attempting to sleep but pitifully whimpering. I did all my normal soothing actions: stroking his hair, pulling him close and rubbing his back, whispering softly to him. Nothing was working. I noticed a wetness on his waist band. I hoped it was merely that the diaper was overly full with pee pee. But as the crying continued, I knew better.
Ok, up we went, into Connor’s room to change his diaper. He begins fighting me tooth and nail, flailing in my arms, attempting to grab on to anything to stop progress towards that torturous changing pad. I call for TS to come help me. He jogs into the room, groggy but willing to help.
This poor man! He meets me, falls in love, and then gets to help me with my sick child at 3 in the morning. And when I say help what I really mean is that he holds him in a hog tie position while I peel the contaminated clothing off my son then fight to wipe off the watery bowl movement, effectively covering my hands with poop. Connor is of course screaming his head off as if he is being physically tortured because since he voided while he was sleeping it left him with a very violently red rash. All this TS has the privilege to assist with. He truly is one lucky guy.
The only solution was to get Connor into the bath to finish cleaning him and to help leach some of the inflammation out of the rash. And despite the fact that the bath would be soothing Connor refused to get in. In fact he refused to take his pajama top off. So he’s literally standing in the ankle-deep bath water pants-less screaming, hot tears rolling down his face, while I try to coax him to sit.
Finally I give up trying to use reason and force Connor to sit in the water, holding him there by leaning into the rapidly filling bath, soaking myself. At last Connor recognizes that his poor bottom actually feels better in the water. He gives up screaming, but still clings to me. Connor releases me little by little until it is just my hand in his, which he strokes over and over as if the rhythm of pressing my hands between his is calming to him.
We sit like this for a long time. occasionally I’ll stroke his hair or whisper some soothing phrase. Tears fall down his cheeks from time to time.
My patient, saintly TS who had stood calmly by, assisting where he could, hands over some children’s Tylenol and sets up Toy Story 2 for Connor to watch in the big bed with us.
After I’m sure the Tylenol has kicked in, we move him out of the bath and his wet pj top, letting his sleep in just a fresh diaper. Connor crawls into bed, arranging pillows how he likes them, leaving TS and me with just half of the bed to share. At last, sometime around 5:30 we drift off to sleep.
When TS leaves for work at 7:45 I call the school to report Connor’s absence.
We awake naturally and slowly around 10 am. I expect my sickly child to be sad, whiny and clingy as he wakes to the world. Instead, he immediately begins chattering. He literally jumps up and on to the bed, jumping up and down as if he hadn’t a care in the world. Though only noticeable difference was that Connor didn’t want to eat much and he wanted me near him at all times.
We spent the rest of the day playing, running around, engaging in general silliness!