So, this story is now a few months old, but I haven’t had time to tell it before now, so here goes.
My younger son is Autistic. One of the ways his symptoms express themselves is through tantrums. This is becoming a bigger and bigger problem as he himself gets bigger. I used to be able to sit him on my lap and wrap my arms around him while he flailed about, and it would stop him and keep him (and us!) safe. Now that he is about four and a half feet tall and 90 pounds, containing him and restraining him is becoming much more dangerous – bordering on impossible. We have enlisted a behavioural consultant to help with this, but in the meantime we are just doing our best.
Over the summer, my son goes to a program called ‘Kids Safe’ which is a day camp that runs out of our local school. I have him there because he needs the routine of getting up, going to school, and having structured days during the summer so that the transition to back to school in September is easier. This is his third year with Kids Safe, and they are experiencing the same problems we are at home with his size. Their only solution is to call me when his tantrums are unsafe for himself and for others. This happened one day in August. Coram had been climbing the pipes in the basement, kicking walls, and screaming. I had to pick him up, which was upsetting for him. What was more upsetting was that the rest of the kids were leaving for a field trip. He had been looking forward to going, but had lost the privilege, and was no longer welcome.
He tried to run after the group, which was worrisome, but became much more so when the group crossed a busy street. They had crossed at the light, but as he was running after them, the light had changed and he was about to go barrelling pout into oncoming traffic. I caught hold of him by the waist and held him. He pulled, screamed, kicked. I locked my feet into the ground and just held on. We spent a good 8 to 10 minutes struggling like this, then I began trying to get him back to my car, which was half a block away. I can no longer carry him, so I had to sort of man-handle him up the street, one leg under him lifting him forward as I stepped forward. He screamed the entire time, straining to follow the other kids.
At some point, a neighbour came out, cordless phone in hand. She walked past me, glared at me, and went to talk to the leaders at the day camp. She walked back past me, and made sure that I knew she was on the phone with the cops, reporting me. I asked the leaders to go talk to her, and they tried, but she said, ‘Get out of my face or I’ll f-ing punch you.’
I’m sure this friendly (?) neighbour thought she was helping a child who was being abused. What I don’t understand was why she had to be so hostile to the leaders of the day camp. The leaders called the cops, too, and explained to them what was really happening. The cops said they weren’t planning to send a car out, but I still wasn’t sure. We went back home, and I spent the evening wondering if I was going to have a visit from child services that day.
I got up the next morning to a sore back. I have had muscle strain before, so I thought nothing of it. I got in the car, and went to work. By about 2 in the afternoon I was having a hard time bearing any weight at all. When I got home that night, I could barely walk. When I woke up the next morning, I could not move.
When I had my first son, I was in labour for 40 hours – and I did not get pain meds until 38 hours in. It was extremely painful back labour, and I thought I was in hell. This back pain was far, far worse.
I had to have my husband stand and brace me so I could take baby steps to the bathroom – slowly, and painfully, with tears streaming down my face. Then to actually sit down I had to scream in pain; then the same going back to lie down flat on my back. This was no ordinary back strain. My husband called the pharmacist, because there was no way I could get to the car to go to the doc, and the pharmacist said to get the pain under control first, go to the doc later.
It was almost a week before I could bear any weight on my own. When I did get to the doc, who referred me to physio, I found out it was likely a lumbar sprain or a disk injury. That explained why it was pain unlike any back pain I had ever had – it was not muscular pain. I ended up taking 2 months off of work, going to physio twice a week and am only just back to work mid October.
Family services never came, which was a huge relief. I have never seen that neighbour again, either – even though she was just two blocks away. I wonder what she thinks when she reflects on the whole experience?
When I reflect on it, I know that I did what I needed to do to stop my son from getting hit by fast moving traffic. I took the injury in his stead. But I am afraid that next time I won’t be strong enough.
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