Our journey in the Autism Spectrum

Posts tagged ‘sorry’

They Accepted

This last part of the school year has been a bit challenging for our little dude. We are getting some notes coming home in his daily binder; “rough day”, “agitated”, “did not want to work with classmates in group”, “impatient”, “not waiting his turn”, etc. It’s the end of the school year and Henry is having a hard time holding it together some days. This is not surprising to me for a kid with an autism diagnosis. We work daily in the area of his social/emotional challenges. Always. Still.

Last week I had gotten a note and a call from the principal’s office that Henry was bothering some girls on the playground and he reached out and grabbed one of them by the shirt. This week a note came home, “arguing today”. Henry doesn’t like to get into trouble. And he really doesn’t like to talk about it when he does get into it. You can almost see how physically painful it is for him to admit he is wrong or to apologize for something. We have been working VERY hard on how to handle this in an acceptable manner. He wants to play with the other kids sometimes but he just doesn’t know how. Nor does he get those social cues when the kids don’t want to play with him or play his way. Another not-so-surprising aspect of his autism diagnosis. This is his most challenging area for sure! I was wondering if this most recent note had something to do with the playground issue from last week. I worry a great deal about what these social challenges might mean for Henry as he grows up. For how long will these challenges be oh-so-challenging for him? Will he ever learn how to navigate these waters appropriately? Will the kids ever understand and accept him for who he is?

When I questioned Henry about who he was arguing with I got the typical first response I usually get from him, “I don’t want to talk about it!” He had just come home from school which is a rough time of day anyway. Fine. Let him decompress.

In continuing with our vigilance in using everything as a possible teachable moment, later that night before bed when all was quieting down, I asked him again who he was arguing with. “Mrs. Q.” (This is his SSD resource teacher that he adores so I was beginning to worry what this was all about.)

“Why were you arguing with Mrs. Q?”

“I don’t know, Mom. Sometimes it seems like I just can’t help it.”

Fair enough. Not that this is acceptable, mind you, but at least he was thinking about it and talking about it calmly with me.

“Well,” I said, “don’t you think you should apologize to Mrs. Q for your behavior?”

“Yeah.”

“Okay, good. So when do you see her next?”

“I see her every day, Mom.” he told me in his “duh!” tone.

“Okay, so the next time you are with her you should apologize and try to work harder at not arguing with her. Alright?”

“Yeah, okay.”

I didn’t say anymore about it after that until he got home from school the next day. “Hey, dude, did you talk with Mrs. Q?”

“Yes, and I said I was sorry and I will try to be better.” (I don’t know if he actually did apologize to her but for now I am giving him the benefit of the doubt.) I figured this was the end of it at this point and we let it go.

However, this morning while the little ones were eating breakfast and I was getting clothes ready for the day, Henry came to me and said, “Mom, you know how I told you I apologized to Mrs. Q?”

Uh oh…”Yes, I remember.”

“Weeeellllllllll, I also apologized to the girls I was bothering the other day.” And with a big grin on his face he said, “And they accepted!”

ummmm….wow! Now, I don’t know if there was any adult intervention or whether he did this on his own but still, big. huge. wow.

“Oh, dude! That is really great! I am so proud of you! Great job!” But, again, as we continually try to practice and remind and practice more, I couldn’t help adding, “So now that you said you were sorry for that, you will try hard and not bother them anymore, right?” While he is getting better at saying he is sorry, he still has a hard time stopping some of the behaviors.

“Right. But can I play with them?”

“Of course! But you need to asked them if you can play with them first. And if they say no, then you need to leave them alone, okay?”

“Yeah. But then can I still wave to them and say hi?”

Oh my sweet little dude! “Yes! That would be very nice of you!”

I realize that Henry’s classmates will never really understand how hard all of this social interaction is for him. But today, I feel we are one more step closer to acceptance!

Sometimes I Yell…

…and then proceed to feel like a complete shtunk. This morning was one of those “sometimes”. I yelled at my son this morning. I mean really yelled. We were running behind schedule. I had slept in and was moving slow. Now I was frustrated that he wasn’t moving faster. And really Henry was doing quite well with the unexpected pace this morning. He took his meds before eating breakfast without a fuss, ate his breakfast in a timely manner and then went off to brush his teeth without being asked! This was awesome! And then it came time to get dressed for school.

“No TV after breakfast this morning, Henry. You need to get dressed. Bus will be here in about 15 minutes.”

A small cry of protest but he started to get out of his p.j.s, all the while reminding me that he did not want to go to school, he hated school, and it was stupid. And then with 10 minutes until the bus, he began pacing around in his underwear, talking to himself, scripting stories with his “friends”.

“Henry, no time for making up stories and playing. Focus on getting dressed please.”

More pacing, more scripting and noise making. He’s getting faster and louder. Still in his underwear, holding his jeans. These particular behaviors of his can drive me bonkers on a good day and after a several minutes of this I was getting irritated.

“Henry!”  I said firmly getting down in front of him trying to get him to look at me. “Bus is going to be here any minute! You have GOT to get dressed! Let’s GO!”

Whining and fussing from Henry as he tries to pull on his jeans, still moving about and running whatever story continues to stream through his brain. He’s stuck on it.

“HENRY! LET’S GO! GET DRESSED!”

He looks up at me finally and starts complaining that his pants are too long and he can’t get them on and he doesn’t want to go to school and it’s stupid….

“HENRY, you can get your pants on! They’re the same ones you wore last week, for cryin’ out loud! NOW MOVE!” I am YELLING now.

Henry is still jumping around but instead of scripting he’s crying. He’s crying about not being able to get dressed, about how he wants to watch TV and school is stupid.

I start to feel bad about yelling at him. My first thought is, Oh great! Meltdown just before getting on the bus…this is going to be a mess and it’s all my fault! And yet I kept yelling…

“No  TV Henry! If you hadn’t been goofing around and playing out your stories you would have had time for TV! You need to focus on getting dressed and ready for school!” I was still yelling as I pulled on his jeans, put his shirt on him, socks and then shoes. Once dressed he stops crying but he’s still teary.

“I’m not playing, Mom. It’s stuck in my ears, Mom. In my brain. I can’t make it stop.”

I am calming down. “Yes, you can Hen. You are very smart and you have a very strong brain. YOU can control what you think about.”

“But it’s hard sometimes, Mom.”

Finally I am no longer yelling, “I know, Dude. I know, but you have to keep trying okay? Sometimes it’s okay but sometimes you need to work on pulling it together. Okay?”

I can’t believe I am saying this to my 6-year-old on the Autism Spectrum…really? Mom-of-the-year!?!? Oy!

“Okay, Mom. I’m trying. Really trying!”

“Okay, I know. I know. It’s okay.” Feeling pretty awful now.

“Can I watch TV now?” he asks.

“Sure, but you only have about a minute.” I say.

“Okay, but one more thing, Mom, I have to tell you just one more thing.”

“Alright. What?”

Cue the kick in the gut…

“I’m sorry Mom. I’m really sorry.”

“Oh, dude. Thank you for saying that. You know what? I’m sorry! Mommy should not have yelled at you! That was wrong for me to do. Do you understand when I say I’m sorry? You know that I love you, right?”

“Yes.”

“Okay, good. I AM sorry! Are you okay? I want you to have a good day at school.”

“It’s okay, Mom. Now I want to watch Mickey.”

So after about 45 seconds of Mickey Mouse Clubhouse, we headed outside to wait for the bus. He seemed back to his normal self. I hope he is having a good day at school…if not, I know it will truly be all my fault.

I will feel bad about this all day…all week…Over the years I have really tried to curb my yelling. Since getting Henry’s diagnosis of PDD-NOS, I’ve gotten much better. ABA Parent Training was a big turning point for me. But this week…well, I’ve yelled a lot this week.

This morning was my fault. I know Henry needs time to transition between the activities of getting ready for school. I could see that he really was adapting to the faster pace. He was trying and succeeding! But when that pace kept up, especially for moving toward something that is not a “preferred activity”, he was reverting to his way of coping.   I KNOW this…but sometimes I still yell. And I hate that.

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