Guest Author - Bonnie Sayers
Most often there is no advance warning with the incident lasting under a minute. The lingering affects cause an occasional flinch when he gets in close proximity. I am referring to the times my son Matthew goes on the attack. I am the victim with the scars to prove I survived the latest behavior battle.
I do learn from each instance but they all take my breath away leaving me wondering how we got to this point. The last two were provoked by therapists that I allowed to work in my home to assist in the teaching of adaptive living skills.
I know I need help in getting Matthew ready for the transitions into adulthood and living as independently as possible. Yet the very people we rely on do not seem to grasp the complexities of autism spectrum disorders and the challenges they face in their daily living.
Instead they come into our home telling us what we already know while we continually share the same sixteen year history that is on file and a waste of crucial therapy time. This last episode resulted with my face being pushed into the stove with his arm around my neck while three employees of this latest behavior agency stood by before one actually came to my rescue after I screamed for help.
The first meeting of the therapist also included the supervisor along with another therapist with no explanation on why she was here. No one bothered to inform me that there would be three of them. Maybe my household of three should show up at their office one day and invade their personal space for two hours.
The first session was meant to be observational on the three behaviors that were decided on from the behavior assessment. This meant watching Matthew eat to see that he gorges on food and walks around without sitting for the entire meal. The main behavior that is really an adaptive skill is the toilet training with the third skill transitioning from a bath to shower.
The supervisor stepped in the cat water bowl and soaked the whole floor. Due to their late arrival I postponed giving Matthew his night time medication by forty-five minutes, which also meant a later dinner hour. With three onlookers in my kitchen I opted for something quick in the microwave for Matthew while Nick and I had to wait until 8 PM for dinner.
Matthew reacted to the three strangers in the kitchen hovering over the table where his food was by lunging at me. I was near the stove so I ducked with my head down as he was pounding on me and scratching while in a choke hold.
The supervisor spent the entire two hours with a winter type coat and scarf wrapped around her neck. The other girl had on a coat as well with the male therapist in casual attire.
I lashed back at the supervisor by telling her she did not make us feel comfortable in our home by keeping her jacket and scarf on and not explaining things to Matthew. After that I left the room to compose myself. While in the living room Nicholas asked me if I was crying but it was too hard to even talk at that point.
I had such mixed feelings since I was still scared that Matthew might strike me while my arm was stinging from the scratches and my jaw was very sore. At this point I was upset with myself for leaving Matthew alone with them in the kitchen but if I had gone back in it would have been to kick them out of the house.
I did not like how she went on to tell Matthew what to do when I finally emerged. I thought I was going to curse her out when she asked me to give Matthew a bath so they could observe. I refused to put us through that ordeal and told her so. I felt like clapping when they finally left, but enjoyed seeing a skunk in my front yard and their reaction as they made their way outside.
Over the years we have endured a bevy of therapists that spew their future success of toilet training Matthew and getting him to speak before services are even rendered. I would rather they show compassion and common sense when it comes to dealing with young teens on the autism spectrum.
The only person Matthew appears to be scared of is his brother and he has a fear of dogs. This does not stop him from leaving through the back door to walk along the streets of Los Angeles in his pajamas before LAPD picks him up. I worry that he may be enjoying the attention or perhaps it is the ride in the squad car that he is craving.
When I see him sitting on his bed looking adrift I feel sad because we have no real means of communication to get to the core of his emotions and his thought process. Nicholas wonders what Matthew thinks about and sometimes says that could have been him as the nonverbal one.
Having grown up with a disabled sibling I was often told to think how my life would have been had I been the one born with a brain tumor and blind. For years I lived in a house where I was scared of my own Mother. I preferred staying out all night to prolong the beating I would get from a bad report card.
While I certainly do not want any of my kids to be scared of me, I also do not want to be in the position where I fear for my safety as a result of an attack by my son. In a few years time he will be finished with high school and transition into the adult population.
For now, I’ll continue searching for answers.