It’s only Tuesday, but this week has been a very odd one for Buddy. Well, for me as well.
Every Monday, I volunteer at a pregnancy resource center 20 minutes away. I usually drop the boys off at school and head in, then grab Lily on my way to pick the boys up from school. Yesterday, though, I received a phone call. “Buddy hit a teacher.”
I was shocked when I heard this, and the woman hung up on me without explaining further, other than to say, “Come pick him up now.” Buddy has only ever hit when he was having a meltdown, and it was more of a thrashing kind of thing. I hurriedly left the center (in the middle of a project) to pick him up. The woman at the office elaborated.
Evidently, Buddy was in a special education group where they work on learning taking turns, looking people in the eyes, things like that. They were having a “dance break,” where they take a moment to dance around before returning to class, as the work they do can be stressful, and this has proven to relax them. Buddy didn’t like the kid next to him dancing so close, and he hid under a desk. When a special education worker (not the usual) approached him and tried to engage him, he flung himself backward, crying out, “Leave me alone!” Evidently when he did so, his arm came out and the back of it connected with her cheek. She promptly contacted the dean of discipline who decided to suspend him for the rest of the day.
What. the. What.
This is wrong on a few levels. As I’ve stated, Buddy doesn’t hit. This was obviously an accident. Suspension is overreacting. As someone in special education, she should know better than to punish him for something he doesn’t understand, not to mention disrupting his schedule.
But wait! They didn’t pull him out of school while they waited for me. They let him continue with his day, completely unaware that anything was about to change, that he had done anything wrong. He continued his day as usual until I arrived.
Buddy was happy to see me, but confused. He didn’t understand why I wasn’t picking him up where I usually do or after his last period. I tried to explain it to him, but he didn’t understand. “I didn’t hit!” he promised. “I don’t hit, or it’s okay to hit me, and I don’t want to be hit!” (I teach my children it’s only okay to hit if it’s in self-defense, and Buddy picked up that meant don’t attack others or they’ll defend themselves)
He protested the whole way to the car. “I don’t go home yet!” I had no way to explain it to him. He was being unjustly punished. The rest of his day was disrupted, since it was off schedule, and therefore quite difficult.
Today was a very different day.
Buddy has come to love haircuts. His hair is thick and he runs hot, so he sweats easily. He’s learned that haircuts keep him cooler, so he looks forward to them. I promised him today that after school would be a haircut.
When I went to pick him up, I was early. He was playing outside for gym. I got to wave at him, and he squealed to his classmates, so I had to wave for everyone. He was positively delighted!
He was the first student out the door at pick up time, and he ran to the car as fast as possible. His brother desperately needed shoes, so we went there first. The shoe store is at an outdoor mall. As we walked by another store on the way back to the car, Buddy saw something inside. To be honest, I can’t remember what, but we went inside to look. It went well, so we went to another store to look around, and another. We were caught up in the fun and birthday planning (all three children have birthdays soon). I forgot about haircuts until we went back to the car, and Buddy excitedly reminded me.
I was concerned. Buddy had a bad day yesterday, and we did a lot of unusual things today. I knew I couldn’t postpone it though, so we went. When we got there, we found that our usual hair stylist for Buddy was incredibly busy with a customer and couldn’t take him today. I let Buddy’s brother go first, hoping she would free up, but no luck. Buddy had to go with a new hairstylist.
I warned him first, and he seemed fine. When she called him up, he seemed fine. She cut his hair, clipped it, all fine. I glanced at Lily to make sure she was okay (she always is, but I’m a worrying mom) and heard the hairstylist turn on the blowdryer.
NO! My mind screamed. I hadn’t expected the new hair stylist, so I forgot to tell her he can’t stand the noise or the sensation. She was blowdrying all over him, including his face, which he absolutely hates.
I made it only two steps closer to him, my mouth opening to tell her to stop, when I realized… Buddy was fine. He was cringing a little, but he wasn’t pulling away, wasn’t crying, wasn’t saying a word. He sat there and waited. She finished up, brushed off the last hairs with her towel, and let him down. He grabbed his lollipop and sat down while he waited for me to pay, as usual.
Buddy went through a new experience without hardly any prior warning and was fine.
Autism being the way it is, I know not to count on this. It’s two steps forward and one step back. But that one step still means we’re closer. Closer to new and exciting things, closer to changing his routine without warning, closer to fun surprises.
Buddy took a big step today.
I wish I could leave it at that, but the rest of the week isn’t going to be easy. I’m attending a conference (long story as to why), which means I can’t pick him up the next two days, so someone else is going to. I won’t be home until after his bedtime, so I won’t even see him for a couple of days. On Friday, his school is having a half day for parent teacher conferences.
It’s already been an interesting week. Here’s hoping the rest is okay for him.
Oh, and Buddy requested a new haircut this time.