Wednesday, November 4, 2009

One Step Forward...Two Steps Back ????

Last week I made my monthly trek to the local pharmacist. They know me very well there! Each time I go in, I am sure they are secretly hoping one of the prescriptions I am about to hand them is written for me. And some days, I am wishing it were, too!!! Surprise to all... it never is!

Anyhow, into the pharmacy we go. Alex and twin sis were with me this time. We went in the door, right inside was the sweetest man, working as a greeter. (It wasn't the BIG store either, just a small local pharmacy.) The man was exceptionally bubbly and definitely loves visiting with the customers! BUT... Alex wasn't too thrilled about the old guy's job!

The gentleman was joking and teasing Alex and twin sis. Alex was trying his best and, for lack of a better word, tolerating it very well. The man kept coming towards us and following us... Alex, you'll remember does not like people to enter his personal space! Alex was doing a great job of advocating for himself by just backing up. Our greeter was just being friendly, but he invaded Alex Land. This is never good!!

It doesn't happen often, Alex has learned how to handle these situations. But, it just wasn't working. And to make matters worse, Alex's mom sometimes gets too comfortable with Alex's accomplishments and lets her guard down, and ... well, let's just say she has slow reflexes.

Alex, however, has the reflexes of a cheetah! The moment that man invaded Alex Land, Alex swiped at the poor guy's face! The man's glasses went flying! Ugggg.... I hate that feeling. I hate the feeling that I know Alex has! I hate that horrible look in Alex's eyes! Alex feels so guilty, the man is stunned, I am, ummm... lots of things!

I apologize to the guy, quickly try to explain, try to calm Alex, try to calm myself. What just happened? Alex hasn't done that for ages. I am mad at the old guy for being too nice. I am mad at myself for not anticipating that this could happen. I am mad at Alex for regressing. OK. Nothing here is good.... Deep breath... Maybe another one.....

Hey! Alex lasted for several minutes with this guy being overly close and in his personal space, Alex put his hands in his pockets and stepped back, just like he was supposed to. OK, not soooo bad. Unless your child has an extreme anxiety issue, or other special need, you are just going to have to work with me on this one, folks! Actually, what Alex had done before he swiped at the guy was really good! And it took a lot of years to get there!

The part about this that really stinks, is that the old guy at the pharmacy will never know that! He will just remember the kid that hit him. I have to confess here... this makes me cry... I haven't made myself cry yet, so this, well, sucks! That's not the real Alex. I am very thankful that there are so many people that do know the real Alex, but the one that doesn't, the guy at the pharmacy, that hurts.

This has happened before. It usually only happens when Alex is startled by someone he doesn't know, or if he is really scared, or if, well someone pops into Alex Land uninvited. But it hasn't happened for over a year. It is not a mean or aggressive move by Alex, just an uncontrollable reaction to a situation that Alex can't control. He had used all of the self control techniques he could and basically, just ran out of options.

I don't like to make myself cry, so I do have a point here. Most people don't realize how many years of very hard work and how much self control Alex exerted that day. Years of therapies, medications, doctors visits, specialists, Alex has worked so hard on is coping skills. Don't get me wrong, I wish he'd have had just a little more in him, and I know he wishes that, too! But he did let that man that he had never seen before, stay very close to him and tap him on the arm and tease him for several minutes. What the rest of the world saw as a kid hitting an old man, actually has quite a different story.

It still hurts, but when I look back, I see Alex swatting at that man, but I also see Alex stressing over the situation, Alex being terrified, Alex stepping back, Alex maintaining his self control, Alex's muscles tightening, his teeth grinding, him being unable to breath, and all the while, the man still there. The bad part was a spit second reaction after several minutes of extreme self control. I just wish everyone else could see that.

What everyone else might see as a failure, also has many positives. Parents of kids with special needs just have to look a little bit harder to see their kids' accomplishments. Many of the things Alex's peers do on a daily basis, are actually HUGE accomplishments for Alex and kids like him.

The rest of the world needs to be reminded that sometimes the snapshot they take don't tell very much of the story.

There are always positives, sometimes, we just have to look really hard!


Sara E said...

hey there girl...
I received your test message from the blog subscription... yay!

Momma Mayhem said...

I think Alex did amazingly well given the situation! I would be quite proud of him.
If it makes you feel any better Jacob, my little Xman, threw a pen in the face of his new Developmental Behaviorist at Harvard Tuesday while I was attempting to explain his severe social anxiety with strangers while his father (we are not together) was denying he had such a problem. My fiance removed Jacob, ran him around the medical offices to the brink of exhaustion, brought him back in, and Jacob walked right in, having worked out his angst and now on his own terms walked up to the doctor and said "Hi" into his stethoscope. Now Jacob is mostly nonverbal, and hates doctors and stangers alike. But having already thrown the pen at the good doctor and trashed his office I guess Jacob figured the ice had been broken :)
Just remember...everything...absolutely relative.