As there are lulls in the weekly happenings in the family I will write more about the back story of Big M and our journey through special needs. His story actually starts when he was 13 months old. Something happened recently that I thought warranted a jump a head and talking about now.
Safety concerns are huge with parents of special needs children. Autistic children generally don’t have the perception of safety. This means that they will do things without thought of whether or not it will hurt them or others. Bolting from parents, head banging, scratching them self and countless others. There are many websites and products to help parents from helmets to GPS locators. There are even specially trained service dogs for children with seizures and autism.
Our family has not had to worry a ton about the safety aspect of things. Now don’t get me wrong. He is a bolter and now a thrower and a hitter. It just wouldn’t happen multiple times a day. When he would bolt. Typically it was into the garage and normally our garage door is shut. This would result in him being “stuck” in the garage. Bolting from us in a store was hard but we could always out maneuver him. Now that we have two kids to think about the stores are harder to deal with but we still make it work. I don’t go to the store alone with both kids. This way there is someone to stay with one kid while the other chases down the runner or we just get two shopping carts. The brothers no longer share a shopping cart very well.
Big M, when he was younger, would throw toys. Normal for a boy correct? Where it got difficult is when he never understood between what could and could not be thrown and where he was allowed to throw it. Now that he is growing up the size and weight of what he is throwing is also increasing. His pattern of when he throws is also changing. He always threw when his excitement level got high. Now he throws when his emotional level gets high. If there is a melt down you might as well take cover because something will go flying.
As these instances have increased so has our concern. He started pulling out his dresser drawers and throwing around this shelf organizer we had moved into his room. Then one day we heard some small thudding like he was knocking his dresser against the wall. I prayed and hoped that he had just found some more toys and were throwing them. He soon turned to slamming his closet door and kicking his bedroom door. Later that day he locked himself into his room again. Then came the heart stopping crash that had both HD and I in Big M’s bedroom. Sure enough there was the dresser lying on the floor face down. What I didn’t see right away was my (sometimes) sweet little boy. My heart plummeted into my stomach and I started shaking until HD realized what was going on and moved out of the way so I could see my boy standing safely off to the side of the room.
Everyone talks about and promotes the deep pressure vests and other safety items to help protect kids from themselves. As a family we even moved houses so that we no longer had a prime jumping spot from our second story into the living room on the first floor. We now live in strictly single story homes. We are in the process of getting a service dog for Big M who will be trained to walk tethered to the boy to keep Big M from running off again. We have had to remove the doorknob from Big M’s door to prevent him from locking us out of his room. The mirrored closet doors in Big M’s room will be removed as soon as maintenance comes out to take them away. Big M and Little M are not left alone in a room together. For each others safety as Little M has a fiery streak and will often bite or body slam his brother and Big M will retaliate but not always in a proper manner. We have caught Big M sitting in the same room as us wrapping toys around Little M’s neck and pulling.
Never in a million years did any of us think that Big M would ever escalate to dresser tipping. Nor did we think that he could at the toddler stage with him being considered on the small size for his age. That he would start throwing his chair around demanding that we put it in time out. These few occurrences just go to show that it is time to step up our game and look into more safety preventions for Big M. Car rides are included in this. Many products for covering seat belts are on the market but what about children who try to houdini their way out of a five point harness?
So much thought about everyday life and what you can do to make it safer for your family and your child goes through every parents head. Even more so if you have a special needs child. With everything going on between house, school, other kids, and taking care of yourself and your marriage little things will slip through the cracks. There are days where I forget to get laundry done or run late to a birthday party. This isn’t meant to make anyone feel like a horrible parent. It is meant to help remind you, if you have special needs kids, or to give you an insiders look if you don’t of just how many different little things there are to think about.
If you don’t know where to go or where to start Autism Speaks has some great resources for you to start out with.