November 26, 2014
First day of Start/ABA (ASD) EA here for 4 weeks to help with Mr. E’s programming. Lucky her, she got to see Mr. E have a massive meltdown. The school called me at 2:20pm (I had just arrived in the parking lot since the school day ends at 2:35pm.).
The school secretary said she didn’t know what was happening but that I was being requested to pick Mr.E up at his classroom ASAP. His regular afternoon EA (education assistant), the school SERT (special education resource teacher) and the new ASD EA were all in the coat room hall with him by the rear exit doors. He was red-faced and raging. Again. Spin kicking in the air, flinging fists every which way and spinning his body around – generally quite hysterical. As I got closer the SERT had to leave and the ASD EA approached me to say they were trying to ignore the behaviour and see if it de-escalated. They had attempted to take him to his quiet room and he had rejected that idea. When he saw me he stuck out his tongue and wiggled his bum at me. The new EA was suggesting this was an attention-seeking behaviour but I know better. I chose to stay with her for a moment as she explained the situation before approaching him. Apparently during music class he was starting to get over-stimulated then in final period, gym – he was told to stop an activity that he didn’t want to stop. So he just lost control and started raging. I realized that since it was end of day the classes would soon empty out into this very hall so the kids could get on their coats and boots, etc to go home for the day. Mr. E pushed through the exit doors and was then in the double-door vestibule area. I was concerned he would go out the exterior door and I suspect the new EA thought the same because we both went to him. I tried to talk to him but he totally attacked me. I’m not used to arriving during the middle of a meltdown – I’m usually there for them at home and know exactly what’s going on and why. This time was so violent. He was spinning, kicking, punching – there was a broom in the vestibule which he grabbed and tried to hit us with. The regular EA took the broom out of the area after I took it away from Mr. E. He hit the EA and myself and kicked at us too. Saying he was defeating us. He went down on the ground and was kicking at me so I removed his indoor shoes – knowing from experience that sock feet don’t hurt as much as running shoes when someone is kicking you.
We spoke calmly and softly to him, trying to discourage the hitting/kicking and trying to de-escalate. He was having none of it. His face was twisted into a grimace and he was literally in the throes of an adrenaline rush. Parents outside waiting for their kids could see. His friends’ parents could see. The parents I usually wait outside with were finally seeing this – not just hearing it second hand from their kids. The end of day bell rang and the other kids were released into the halls to get ready to go. I panicked thinking about Mr. A, my 5 year old who is in SK in the same hall and would be let out through a different door without me to meet him. I asked Mr. E to please try to calm down so we could go get Mr. A.
But Mr. E just punched me hard in the face and stomach. I tried not to flinch but it really hurt. The EA said it’s okay, go get Mr. A. I turned around and saw that the doors to the coatroom hall were blocked by teachers – so the kids couldn’t see very much. But that the hall was full of kids getting ready to leave. I commented to the teachers guarding the doors that it wasn’t safe to let the other kids out those doors and they agreed – they were diverting them out the side doors they said.
I hurried to Mr.A’s class and told him he needed to come with me through the school because Mr. E was having a meltdown. He seemed unruffled and luckily his teachers helped hurry him up. I brought him to the hall and then to the doors where we could see Mr.E was still wildly raging. My little one waved at his big angry brother and called out hi to him. But Mr. E didn’t care.
I was doing my best to hold my shit together – I was wildly overstimulated too and just wanted to cry/scream and run but I know I can’t do that. See, I also have been diagnosed with Aspergers. I understand the difficulty in keeping emotions under control, hating stopping an activity and not “getting” social nuances. I “get” the negative thinking and and misunderstand social cues. I have a depth of anxiety that you can only imagine. No, really. But I have hid it very well under a mask of quiet awkward smiles in social situations or when my chatty husband is around he thankfully talks for both of us until I stick my foot in my mouth or correct something he says. Anyway, back to the meltdown….
Mr. E’s SK/gr 1 teacher commented to me that she didn’t have any of these problems last year and that she had thought this past week was going so well with him using the quiet room (which is in her classroom actually because she is such a calming influence on him). I told her this is what happens at home and had been happening last year too but luckily then not at school. Mr. E’s teacher took Mr.A into her class and stuck him on the computer for a bit to keep him busy with her while I went back to try to calm Mr. E down and get the hell out of there. The new EA wasn’t having much luck with calming. He was still kicking and hitting both of us. After awhile his teacher was called to the office and had to leave, I heard her telling the others in the hall so I went to retrieve Mr.A and thanked her for watching him. The regular EA was still in the hall with Mr. E’s SK/gr1 teacher but since the kids were mostly gone they were leaving too.
Then without any real warning, the daycare/after school care group who congregate in the hall at this time after school but usually exit though the kindergarten class door instead started coming out the door into the vestibule where Mr.E was! Thankfully the new EA thought quickly and suggested Mr. E take us back to the gym so he could finish the “thing he needed to finish” which was what started this whole issue in the first place. This is when Mr. A told me he had to pee urgently. So I took him to the bathroom and the EA took Mr. E to the gym. He did what he “needed” to do with the 2 balls and then he felt better.
Mr. A and I met them just as they were leaving the gym. Mr. E threw himself on the floor on his back and was bumping his lower back on the floor which looked almost like a seizure to me but he was aware so I think it was a self regulating piece. Mr.A moved too close to Mr. E’s feet and I warned Mr.A to step back from Mr. E’s feet. The EA then prompted Mr.E about saying something to Mommy to which he mumbled he was sorry and then she said prompted him to do “the other thing” and he gave me a brief, very weak hug. She walked us to the car and then she and I spoke for about 2 minutes and we left.