Thursday, September 20, 2012

Things That Don't Wax In The Night

Welcome to a new school year. Andy is transitioning OK to his new (rocking!!!) teachers. We've had a little trouble getting them to understand that "dygraphia" means "please don't send home long writing assignments or you will drive both he and I to eat large quantities of ice cream all night", but other than that, we're good.

Joey, on the other hand, is in the grips of anxiety. Everything is new again. New teachers. New schedule. New para support. Autism program only twice a week instead of every day. Lots of new testing. He has all but completely refused to have anything to do with books. He will let me do small amounts of reading to him, but his auditory processing and focus means we have to read passages several times before he grasps what is going on, and that drives Andy to distraction ("Mom! You've read this part FOUR TIMES!!!") I've gotten him to read one picture book; aloud, but independently, and one page from Encyclopedia Brown. Both are books I know he can read easily. The problem is something else.

One facet is definitely the Anxiety Monster. One night this week, he was up and down, in and out of my room all night, to the point I woke up and asked him what was up.

"I didn't throw up on anything!" was his cheerful reply.

Yeah, you bet I was up in a hurry and checking bedrooms, bathrooms, hallways... but no sign of waxing. He said he didn't feel sick. He tried to sleep some more. I listened to him toss for a while. Then he got in bed with us, and tossed for a while. That brain must have been going like mine- a mile a minute, revved to the full. I could nothing more out of him to help try to ease whatever is bothering him.

The next night was the same story, with the same proud explanation: "I didn't throw up on anything!" Naturally, this makes him tired at school, so this week has been even worse than the last two- which have been predictably roller-coaster wild.

Then the Anxiety Monster struck at school.

Math class. Joey's best subject. No one really expects him to freak out in math. However, boredom is not our friend, and we have a whole new crew who are not used to speaking Joey, and without the excellent team communication and ready resources we had last year. Joey had the work done before the teacher had even finished explaining the lesson, and there was nothing else for him to do. Naturally, he started messing with stuff and getting into things, and so was told to stop. With nothing else to occupy him, and stress already at the full, he melted and bolted. The new para (who is a sub while we look for a new para to replace the one who was dangerously bad at the end of last year) leapt into action (yay!) and managed to cut him off from exterior doors. He ran to the principal's office.

This used to be a safe haven for Joey. The principal we had in third grade had football stuff all over his office, and Joey found that comforting, so he soon started running there. The old principal even had a little pillow and rug for him, in case Joey needed a corner while he was away from the office, which was totally so cool of him. But this principal doesn't do that. Joey didn't really need it last year, he was pretty comfy in his classroom or the autism room (which doesn't exist this year).

Joey hit that office, had no corner, and lost it. Loudly. With choice colorful metaphors and words. An admin tried to step in, and Joey responded by saying he was going to shoot him and kill him, so there was talk of suspending him. (Hey, folks- most stuff geared toward ten-year-old boys involves guns. You know, cops and robbers, cowboys and Indians, Star Wars, G.I. Joe... what do you EXPECT an echolalic child to say when he's upset with you???) They had him corralled back his classroom by the time I arrived, grumpily shouted at all and sundry to... well, to suck his balls. A glorious term he picked up from one his classmates last year.

And now, I think the new team knows what I mean when I say, "boredom is not our friend."

Meanwhile... JoeyAndyDad and I have been stressing over the coming of Middle School. Yes, a year away. Yes, already trying to figure out what to do. We crunched numbers to see about homeschooling, and that made us feel like we had an option, though it would mean a major shift in how and when I work, and for which jobs. But it is an option- perhaps an important one, because as he gets bigger, people no longer think the echolalia is cute. They understand it less, and have less tolerance for what he is saying. Joey is big, he's smart, and people readily forget what his disabilities really are. He appears to speak so well, you can forget all that good grammar is echo and script. When he uses a script someone doesn't expect, it can be startling. We worry about it being catastrophic. If he gets to middle school or high school using words that sound like a threat of violence, we are going to have a huge, huge problem on our hands. If he lashes out at someone like he lashes out at me, we'll likely have to homeschool, anyway.

Am I really ready for that?

So I've been spending a lot of nights listening to the wheels rev in my head, like wheels stuck in the mud; listening to a boy who is not throwing up on anything, creeping in to find some comfort in Mom and Dad's bed, trying to find some rest.