Tuesday, October 28, 2014

With Liam, It's More Than Just A Tantrum

A tantrum from Liam is not a small thing.

One minute he's fine. He's happy. He's eating his breakfast and drinking his juice. And I keep reminding him that the table is not for climbing.

Then, for no discernible reason at all, it changes.

And my sweet, 3 year old Liam, loses his ever-loving mind.

He will not be picked up. He wrestles with any attempt to control him at all. He bangs his head, and bounces. Sometimes at the same time, sometimes alternating between the two.

This kind of thing happens at least once a day. At breakfast this morning, but it can happen anywhere and at any time.

Sometimes he gets rough. With me, and more importantly, with himself. He's developed a bruise recently, near his mouth, and I couldn't figure out where it came from.

But this morning I saw it, when he grabbed his own jaw and squeezed really hard. His thumb matched right where the bruise is.

This morning he pulled his hair, and repeatedly slapped himself in the face. All while alternating between quiet crying, loud crying, and letting out the most blood-curdling screams.

I got him onto the couch and covered him with a weighted blanket. I tried to speak soothingly, and prevent him from hurting himself. Then I took out my phone, and started recording it.

I recorded it for a couple of reasons. First, I'd like to be able to show the professionals who are working with us, what one of these meltdowns looks like, but that's really not the main reason I did it.

See, my pediatrician told me that if he's hitting or pinching himself on the face, I need to record it, so that I have proof that I'm not hurting him.

Can I just say how angry that makes me? Not at my pediatrician who cares deeply for my son, and genuinely just wants to make sure my ass is covered. No, I'm mad at parents who hurt their children.

Kids with special needs are especially vulnerable, because their care takes a toll, and increases stress, which leads to higher incidence of abuse. I understand it on a textbook level. On a maternal level, I understand it, not at all.

And because people out there do hurt kids, caregivers and professionals have to be concerned.

It means parents like me have to actually have to think simultaneously about meeting the needs of a child in the moment, and also protecting themselves so that they can continue to do so. While I understand it, it's so incredibly screwed up to think about.

The thing is, I don't feel stressed about having to care for Liam. Sometimes I feel inadequate and helpless, and there are things that do make me feel stressed in relation to Liam. But that's because I want him to be safe, cared for, and happy! And I don't blame him for stress. He's amazing. I'm so grateful he's here. Taking care of him, makes me happy.

I want to keep him safe. I want to figure out how to help him. And I want to be able to just focus on that.

I wish I knew what brought the tantrums on. I'd work to eliminate whatever is bothering him. I just honestly don't know.

I do know that his newest sentence is "Mommy, kiss" and that he really loves hugs. I know that this phase will pass, that we will figure it out, or he will outgrow it. I also know that we will likely face much harder challenges down the road.

But I have to tell you, watching my sweet little boy so angry that he is literally hurting himself, is almost more than my mommy heart can take.

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