Monday, February 11, 2008

What’s Wrong Nicky?

For no obvious reason Nicky has been more aggressive, his preservative behaviors increased and I know something is wrong. I don’t know if he’s sick or is something else is throwing him off. There are so many factors that impact his behavior from getting sick to simple changes in routines, lack of sleep, frustration, medications, weather, over stimulation. He can’t tell me, so I have to guess what’s wrong. Like many kids with ASD Nicky can’t say “Mommy my stomach hurts”, “Mommy I’m frustrated”, “Mommy the new medicine is making me feel bad”, “Mommy I’m dizzy” or “My ear hurts”. So we have to figure out what is wrong using deduction and luck.

Nicky’s frustration tolerance suddenly dropped. He was hitting, kicking, pinching and he even tried to bite me (which he had not done in a long time). He wasn’t sleeping well. He was making noises more instead of using words. He was waking up 3 or 4 nights a week. Just popping up around 1:30 making sounds and jumping up and down and unable to settle his body to go to sleep. He didn’t have a fever and they were no obvious signs of sickness. But, he had just recovered from a small fracture in his wrist and he had been taking a new medication from his neurologist. So when I heard he lost his balance getting off the bus one day and that he was tired in school – I didn’t think much of it. I figured he was tired in school because he was not sleeping at night and he sleepy getting off the bus. As for the aggressiveness, maybe it had something to due to with the new medication.

I stopped the medicine, but he was still agitated, not sleeping and his aggression was increasing in school. This is not good. It’s like domino's. Now I'm disappointed that the new medication didn't help and I have two worries: what’s wrong with him and how do we get his behavior under control so he doesn’t hurt himself or anyone else. Whatever is wrong it’s bothering him enough that he can’t control himself. He’s pinching at school and he hit his teacher. He has never hit his teacher. When Nicky hit’s me, I know it's not okay but I don't get nervous. When he hits other people I get a bit panicked inside because I know he’s too big to hit and the one thing that could keep my guy out of the mainstream is aggressive behavior. If we can’t control his aggressive behavior he’s going to be isolated from the general education and that scares me.

I called a meeting with his team at school and in his behavior program supervisor. I told them that there is something wrong with our guy, I don’t know what, but something is happening that is causing his aggressive behavior. We talked and came up with a plan where Nicky would lose his favorite activity (computer) if he hit, pinched, or scratched anyone. We all felt bad that we had to do this, when we knew he could be sick or in pain. At the same time he can’t be allowed to hit and given his age and size – even if he is sick. So 0 tolerance had to be enforced.

He continued to be cranky and then he started to get visibly sick. For me that was good news. He was coughing and he threw up (we are probably the only parents happy to see that). I took him to his pediatrician who said he had the worst ear infection she had seen all year and once again she was taken aback by his high pain threshold.

Now I knew why he lost his balance, why he was waking up at night and why he was so cranky and angry. He was in pain and it had taken the infection growing to a severe point for him to respond to the pain. Okay, well at least now we know what to do. It’s not all bad, we improved his school/home behavior plan. Which is a good thing because even sick kids who can’t talk aren’t allowed to hit.

I just wish he could tell me more about what’s going on inside of him because it’s so hard to guess. And it’s hard to know that something is wrong and not know how to help him. I worry we are going to miss something really serious that will have a life long impact because we didn’t get to it fast enough. This scares me.

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