Thursday, September 14, 2006

Life goes splat...

I had an experience this morning at the grocery store that serves as a really good analogy for life at home, after school yesterday... (more about the experience later)

C & I had arranged to meet with B's teachers yesterday after school to update them on various things- how the summer went, new behaviours & how to cope with them, up-coming meds changes & the fact that B has a new psychiatrist. It took about 45 minutes, during which time B was watching a gerbil in one of the classrooms on the same floor as our meeting & learned a new computer game from another kid. We had brought cookies for the meeting & made sure B had some for snack, but unfortunately the change in his usual routine (or, at least, 4-day-old routine :) was too much for him... He had told his teacher, Jen, that he would be fine with the math homework that had been assigned that day (anything that doesn't require much writing is usually a piece of cake for him). But on the way home he began moaning about "why didn't I do my homework at school instead of playing a game...?" It seemed to us he was expecting a bit much of himself, & that he could just do the math quickly after we got home & then he & I could watch a movie together. But it was not to be. B became more & more distraught about the homework, & finally spiralled into full meltdown mode, curled on the sofa with Rufus over his face. He moaned & occasionally whacked himself in the face with Rufe. We sat with him, hoping to ride it out, but he just couldn't get free of his distress/anger/dilemma. I told him I thought that maybe one component was having told Jen he'd do it, but now not wanting to, & feeling that he didn't want to let her down. I have had that "damned if you do & damned if you don't" experience & know how unpleasant it is. Occasionally B would start to come out of it, but then he'd start moaning about homework again & descend back into the misery & face-banging. He seemed particularly angry at the person who invented homework... After 40 minutes I was in tears. He would cover his face so hard that he wasn't breathing properly, then make gasping sounds that made seem as if he'd vomit, & I was feeling scared. C & I had him wedged between us to prevent his falling off the sofa & getting hurt. Finally B started to take notice of us & his surroundings, but then he noticed that his face-banging with Rufus has caused Rufe's mouth fabric to split a bit, & he freaked out, thinking that he'd hurt Rufus. Sigh. I convinced him that I could fix him & finally B came back to earth... He tearfully asked if I would watch some Kratts' Creatures with him, so we had some tea & went upstairs to watch tv. By dinnertime B was pretty much back to his normal, joking self. I, however, was completely wiped-out. Life had gone splat big-time. After B was asleep (it took him longer than usual & he requested tylenol for a headache, which did not surprise me at all...) C & I tried to figure out what we could have done better to handle things. I really felt that this meltdown was worse than any of the others because he felt caught in a moral dilemma & couldn't get himself out. We probably could have been more proactive about how he used his time during the meeting. We really needed to have this meeting, though, & it was good to have both of us there... mostly, we just didn't predict that he'd have such a tough time with the variation in routine, since this is not usually an issue for B. The homework thing is a chronic thorn in B's side, though... what B really wants, & I believe needs, to do when he gets home from school is to recover from the stresses of being at school. When B's consultant teacher went to a conference on AS 2 years ago they completely revised the homework expectations of the kids with AS at school based on newly-reported research showing that homework does not benefit these kids very much, because they really do need the down-time instead. B's psychologist, however, has not wanted B to be entirely exempt from homework, so last year B & his teacher settled on reading-comprehension worksheets for most of his homework, & doing math & science homework if he felt comfortable with it. This worked very well. This year they have tried to start off with B doing the regular homework, & the first couple of assignments were ok. But after yesterday afternoon I am quite ready to throw in the towel. Perhaps they can try it again in 7th grade...

This morning I asked B during breakfast how he'd like to handle his lack of homework to hand in today. He asked me to speak to Jen privately, without him, & I said that would be fine. Jen & I sat down in a quiet place & I explained what happened, & we revisited the whole issue of whether or not homework is appropriate for B. She proposed exempting B from homework entirely, but knowing that B's psychologist, who hasn't yet set us in a wrong direction with B, wants B to participate in it, we decided that she'd give him the rest of the week off & then revisit things next week. B will be seeing Dr. M the last week in September, & you can bet we'll bring it up with him again. This time, I am firmly on my kid's side of the issue & will need convincing...

As for going splat, in a literal fashion... that just what happened to me at the grocery store this morning. I was getting one last, nearly-forgotten item, when the person restocking the shelves backed into the aisle & I tripped over her. It happened so fast I'm still a bit dazed... I landed hard on the floor, my left knee & hands taking the force of the fall. Within about 2 minutes they had a first-responder there, & within about 5 they had a bag of ice (what I really needed :). I'm happy to say that I walked out of the store (after going through the check-out) & was able to get home & put the groceries away. But thanks to my arthritis, my whole body now aches, so I plan to spend as much of today as possible sitting with ice packs (as I am now) on my various aches & pains. It was eye-opening to be reminded that my kid is not the only one who can go splat! And that splats can happen when least expected...

2 Comments:

At 9:06 PM, Blogger Kristina Chew said...

Jim and I often say that when things happen to Charlie, we feel them so strongly in ourselves, and often end up with delayed reactions ("splats") after Charlie has a day of struggle.

Charlie does not do homework from school and I have often wanted to request this. Your post gives much to think over!

 
At 5:06 AM, Anonymous Sharon said...

I think that when a child has spent so much of their day at school, they really need some time to spend as they like when they get home. I think obligatory homework shouldn't be necessary for any schoolchild, except perhaps in the upper years.
I'm sorry that B, and subsequently you, had such a hard time.

 

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