At the moment, I am wondering why I am Leelo's punching bag, why no approaches -- massages, extra exercise, extra attention -- seem to help him with his need for aggression. I try not to react at all, because sometimes a reaction is exactly what he is seeking. Then Leelo suddenly wants, shows, showers me with affection -- which I gobble up, even while I'm warily wondering when his tactile defensiveness will kick in.
I flinch each time Mali flinches when her brother comes near.
I am sometimes strangely grateful for the blows that prove, definitively, that my son is right here beside me.
I know his behavior is sensory, jealousy-based, behavioral. I know he's coming off his first week out of school. We've tapered off his access to the straws he likes to chew on, and have also stopped Claritin on his pediatrician's advice. Iz has been away at her first sleepaway camp, all week. A lot of changes in a short time. I can't really expect him to be happy about it, and I guess I should be glad that he mostly takes out his frustration on me.
Update now that I've had a few hours of sleep: Leo is a sweet boy; he can be naughty (he's seven, after all) but he is never malicious. This is why I'm re-reading Beth A. Glasberg's slim, helpful book Functional Behavior Assessment for People With Autism. The usefulness of the book is summed up in an introductory paragraph:
Over the years, research and experience have taught professionals who study behavior that making sense of a seemingly senseless behavior is an essential step to controlling it. This means that we must accept that these behaviors make perfect sense to the individuals engaging in them and then identify why. We must ask ourselves, "what purpose is this behavior serving?" and "How is this behavior benefitting my child?"I haven't figured this out yet, at least not to the point where we can help Leelo redirect his aggression. But we're working on it.
At least Mali keeps me constantly amused:
- Mali: "Is that Therapist Y's car?"
- Me: "Yes."
- Mali: "You mean the man with the square hair?"
- Mali: "...and my friend Sophie, and my friend Willow..."
- My Mom: "'Willow'? They sound like hippies."
- Mali: "They're not hippies! They're sisters!"
- Me, after Mali had reached out and touched a passing woman on her arm because don't you know that everyone in the world who is not already in love with my three-year-old will be forcibly converted: "Monkey, we don't pat people without permission."
- Mali: "I didn't pat her, Mommy. I PETTED her. eh-eh-eh. With an 'E.'"