I go to take a peek and I saw Lizzy sitting Indian style (or as we now say it crossed-legged or criss-cross-apple-sauce, whatever) smack in the middle of the floor, with her head between her legs, bashing it like a melon on the ground.
Thump. Thump. Thump.
If that wasn't enough, she takes both her hands, balls them up into fists and proceeds to beat the shit out of her skull.
What in the...???
I didn't know what to do. Stood there watching her for a minute. Her teacher mentioned something about self harming behaviors and I'm like, "Yeah, no shit. Ya think?"
But I didn't say that. I really wanted to but I didn't. I pulled her teacher aside and told her a little bit about Alex and how he started head banging when he gets angry. How he doesn't have all the words he needs nor the ability to use them so when any feeling that comes close to resembling fear, pain or anger, when that kicks in, he starts to bang his head. Not hard, mind you, just enough for me to go, "Ackk!" and help him work things out. It's been a little more stressful as of late so he's been doing it more than usual. And now I guess Lizzy's doing it too.
Her teacher gave my arm a tight squeezes and says, "I don't know if you know this, but this is my side job. At my day job I'm an OT..." She mumbled something about the Joshua Center and gave me a quick, knowing smile and we both started lugging Lizzy off to the side. The Joshua Center is a non profit that deals with neurological disorders such as Asperger's, Tourette's, etc. I was stunned at how, when I needed it the most, there was an angel in my midst.
Anyway, we drag her off to the side of the class and I had a little chat with Lizzy. Apparently she was pissed because her teacher asked her to do a hop-two-three and she didn't want to. Headbanging ensues. I asked her why she banged and hit her head and she just simply said, "Well Alex does it. Is that wrong?"
So for the rest of the class I sat there a little abashed and humiliated that my daughter was self harming in public. I feel like if it happens at home it seems a little more OK because no one sees it. I don't know what I'm saying...I feel like its some dark, dirty secret and its been let of of the bag. At home I have the ability to intervene, in the privacy of my home, and provide the necessary support and calm my son. When it happens out in the open, in public, I feel like our secrets been let out. I feel like a bad mom, or at the very least, one that is doing something so horrible or abusive that my kids want to beat themselves. The other moms sat there, saw the whole thing, and I had to finish out the rest of the class under their scrutiny.
And the thing is this--I know I'm doing a good job with my kids, that I'm doing the best I can and right now we've got a lot of stress going on with Alex. And when he's stressed it affects all of us. It's just not Alex's problem. It's our problem as a family and Lizzy, at five, is absorbing some of that stress.
No one else knows that. I'm not saying that they should, but from the glances I was getting I wanted to justify what was going on, to explain that everything is really OK, that this is just one aspect of our life. That this is our version of Asperger's and sometimes it's not at all pretty and as a matter of fact it can be downright ugly and messy. But I didn't justify anything. I don't know why but I didn't.
So now I'm sitting here contemplating what happened and how this thing called Asperger's is affecting all of us. How this is truly not just about Alex anymore but all of us. And that realization hit me like a ton of bricks between the eyes. I always wanted Lizzy to be insulated from it, to protect her from the stigma, to give her the chance at being a little girl, out from the shadow of her brother. Now I'm seeing that she will always be tied to this, to Alex. That this is just the first of many things that are going to carry over into her life because of her brother.
There is no easy way to explain to a five year old that her brother is who he is and because of that she's going to have an extra load to carry. Not that I believe its all bad. I don't, not for a second. I guess I just didn't realize that my version of reality was a little different from the actuality. That once the veil has been lifted it takes a little time to see the clarity through the haze and right now I'm still a little hazy.
|Lizzy's Irish dancing shoes. They didn't see much action...|