Wednesday, June 27, 2012

"Quiet Hands"

My son hit a baby in the childcare room at the gym.  I knew something was wrong by the quiet way one of the office people approached me on the elliptical.  A director was sitting outside the playroom with him, and my boy had no sense that anything was wrong.

When he saw me, his face lit up and he said, "Mommy!  Wanna go on the swings!"

No swings for him.  We've talked about this.  Very recently, he's gotten "aggressive."  He will pinch and hit me if I don't give him what he wants and will push other children for no reason.  He'll even say, "No pushing!  Pushing is bad!" as he pushes someone.

This is not the boy I know.  The boy I know might not listen, might laugh at you when you tell him to do something, but he is a sweetheart who would never hurt anybody.

Except he did.  I could hear the baby crying in the playroom as the mother emerged to say there was no calming him down and she was just going to take him home.  I felt awful.  She was just another drained mom who wanted an hour to herself.  I tried to apologize, but I could barely get the words out for fear of crying and she could barely look at me.  Who could blame her?  What do you say to the mother of a giant four year-old who's just hit your baby?

He was wearing his "Peace, Love and Autism" shirt.  Irony of ironies.

It's not just the embarrassment or the fact that I don't get an hour to myself, either.  What really breaks my heart is that my son doesn't seem to understand that hitting is wrong.  He sees the kid crying and it doesn't affect him.  He sees me crying and it doesn't affect him.

"Mommy's crying," he observed.
"Yes, Mommy is crying because hitting is bad," I replied.  "Hitting makes Mommy sad."
Then he smacked me in the face.

Reading this, you would think I have some kind of spoiled monster on my hands.  That's not him at all.  My son is sweet and affectionate and loves to cuddle.  I don't know where he went.  I've tried all the cue words from school, the "quiet hands," modeling appropriate behavior, time-outs, consequences, and nothing seems to stop him.

After a good cry, I resolved to call his doctor in the morning.  We need help.


  1. Hi, I am a pediatric OT and an amateur blogger myself and just stumbled upon your blog. You are a great writer! I am always interested to learn more about the "inside story" of autism; I've worked with lots of children with ASD, but of course the parents and other family members are the first-hand experts. Thank you for sharing!

  2. That hurts. I was at a breaking point a few weeks ago with my own son who has autism... I was trying so hard to get him to play with me. He started making a irritating sounds (that he knows bugs me) and I just lost it. What hurt more was that my crying did not register. Hang in there. Hope the doc can help.

  3. Ooh, ooh, I know this one, too! (Raising hand, slightly waving it.)

    Same thing happened with my guy when he was that age. The violence started. Stabbed his kindergarten teacher with a scissors. So.many.years.of.therapy. Game changer drugs that we found at age 11: Buspar and Guanfacine (Intuitiv), used in combination, have quelled our savage beast. I know your guy is little and definitely his own person, but man, if I'd have had the choice to help mine with these meds earlier, it would have made SUCH a difference. For us, it's taken away a lot of the angry feedback loops and helped our boy be able to handle everyday life. He seems far happier and calmer.

  4. Intuiv! Yes! He's on a similar med now, but the doc wants him on Intuiv because it's extended-release. Our insurance company says it's not medically necessary, unless they get an ADHD dx, which we're working on now. Cool. Glad to know it's good stuff!

  5. My now 12 year boy is triggered by the words. It's like the words enter his brain and go right to the action part instead of the "Let's learn from this" part. I got out a new ball and said "Now let's not puncture this one" and he whirled grabbed the knife and 'pop.' Even though he was said from the destruction of the last one.

    1. Wow. You know what? NT kids do that, too. I'm a teacher, and I don't know how many times I've handed out an article or packet, and said, "Please don't write on this." What they hear is, "Write on this." So I have to lead with what I want them to do, like, "Put your pencils away so we can keep these papers clean."

      I teach 8th grade. They'll be driving in a few years!

  6. BTW--When I wrote this, I was unaware that many people use the term "quiet hands" to stop kids from stimming. I was trying to stop him from hitting. Flap all you want, kid, if it makes you happy.

  7. DD has harmed babies, even our own. It's sad and scary. DD poked a little baby in the eye (I was running toward the dad and infant carrier saying 'watch the baby, watch the baby!) but I didn't get there in time. The dad's wife called me after church and asked if we could put dd on a leash?

  8. The revolutionary Kids are particular in addition to cherished, nevertheless they typically appear in addition to perform like 'normal' children usually. Yet we have now grow to be accustomed to these kinds of children steadily and frequently think the more aggressive, loving, hypersensitive, imaginative, telepathic, disruptive and/or smart natures are merely a program of an fresh age group. Hand-waving kid's cry