Incident, and Progress, Report

Charlie and Jim riding bikes at Liberty State Park across from lower Manhattan On average, 'incident reports' get sent home in Charlie's school communication book about two times per week. These offer a brief account of whatever happened, possible antecedents/reasons for the behavior ('not sure' is an option, and I'd rather that—sometimes we just can't figure out why Charlie does what he does), a description of the response, the time and duration. I would generally say that sensory overload, stomach distress, and the difficulty of communicating quickly and sufficiently about either of these are often reasons for Charlie having trouble.

The good thing about Charlie's 'incidents' is that, in the past few months, they have been contained. That is, while he might sometimes get extremely upset, he is calm and back to doing his programs in no more than half an hour. Too, the incidents don't seem to affect the rest of his day.

Much as I'd like Charlie to be forever 'incident-free' and never thump any part of his head on a wall or whatever again, I know that this isn't realistic. Charlie has had some of these behaviors—like the head stuff—for so many years that, when he's really upset, he ends up doing them, however much he knows he oughtn't to; however much he'd rather not do them. Too, his limited language and communication abilities mean that he just can't always get the words or other communication out in time. Our hope is that, over time, he'll get better with the communicating and the head stuff will slowly, slowly fade away; will peter out.

Well, that's the ideal. Certainly things right now are very good.

Case in point was Tuesday morning.

Charlie got up at 7.30am, got himself into the car. I set the timer so Jim and I could do some things before we left (an arrangement that had worked fine last week) and walked away from the car, and heard the thumps. Jim came out and he and I stood by the car. Charlie sat up, looked at us.

And that was the extent of it.

We started doing as we had planned, loading up the bikes. Charlie had already, we realized, put the bike helmets in the car—he must have really just wanted to get going. Also as planned, we drove into Jersey City and went to Liberty State Park. Jim and Charlie were soon abike and went on a quite long ride that took them through many city streets. I put on my running shoes and went running along the river, across from Ellis Island and behind Lady Liberty. It was much more humid than it has been in the past few days (though nowhere as it was back in the dog, dog days of July) and that may have accounted for why Charlie was much slower on his bike, as Jim noted.

Usually we get Charlie summer rolls from a Vietnamese restaurant but it was just around 10.30am when he and Jim came back and we put the bikes back onto the racl. It was also too early to get the other food item that Charlie likes to have in Jersey City, hamburgers and French fries from a McDonald's on Communipaw Avenue (we tend to pass this McDonalds as we leave). But hamburgers and fries are only served after 11am.

Jim quietly took an alternate room via the New Jersey Turnpike home and Charlie was fine with the change in the usual routine of his visits to Jersey City.

The rest of Tuesday passed with two 'home bike rides,' a fast trip to a little local amusement park where Charlie rode his usual total of three rides before asking for the car, random 'hanging' time in our little house (it is summer vacation—the last days of it for Jim and me—after all).

Keeping those on-average-two-'incident-reports' in mind, we'll see what happens Wednesday. Charlie being out of school, and therefore in a much less structured environment, and therefore without his teacher and aides and the other kids at his school, I factor in an extra 'behavior,' or two (hopefully not of the mega-explosive kind, though we're as ready as we can be, should such be the case).

Those morning thumps on Tuesday certainly weren't the best way to start the day but I'm still marveling at how they didn't seep into the rest of the day; how they didn't define the day.

It's progress of the hard won sort.

Just before going to bed, while listening to samples from every classic Disney compilation I could find on Amazon, Charlie looked up at me, grinned, and said, 'No more head bangs.'

'Yeh, that would be good. But sometimes it happens.'

'No more head bangs.'

'Yup, you're doing good.'

'Doing good.'

If I don't say so myself.

Charlie calls this ride the ferris wheel though it isn't--a good ride, nonetheless!

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Comments
6 Responses to “Incident, and Progress, Report”
  1. Liz Ditz says:

    Wow! “No more head bangs!” Is that a first from C about how he responds?
    And dang, good parenting response, calmly saying, ‘Yeh, that would be good. But sometimes it happens.’
    I have to say as the parent of 3 MOL NT persons, life got a lot calmer when I learned to let the emotional storms go by with either no comment or … merely something along the lines of “you are feeling this really strongly”.
    Wish I’d learned that before child #3. Would’ve short-circuited a lot of drama.

  2. haidang says:

    Great job Charlie. I am glad to hear that he is having a great summer so far (day 2). I agree with you that communication is a great way to remove SIB. My sons had gone through the same thing. We saw much less SIB as they improved their expressive and receptive language skills. I am enjoying reading your posts and very happy for Charlie to have a great year so far.

  3. Niksmom says:

    First, I must say, I LOVE the picture of Jim & Charlie on the ride! ADORABLE!
    You know, if you think about it, what we call “incidents” in non-NT people are often just chalked up to “moods” in other people. We all have them, they shift, and they aren’t always pleasant. Id’ say Charlie’s learning how to express his own moods (whether they have an identifiable antecedent or not) and how to snap out of it, too. A HUGELY important skill for anyone to develop.
    Whether Charlie is able to articulate what he feels and needs right now, he certainly has a high degree of self awareness to know what he needs to shift OUT of the space he’s in when he’s feeling unsettled. So many people (NT or no) don’t ever reach that level of awareness.
    My hat’s off to Charlie. But, you know I adore him anyway. 🙂

  4. Estee says:

    Oh Kristina, what a great ending to this piece.
    When I think about it, I wonder if I could get through a day without my own incident report.

  5. Melanie Harper says:

    That’s awesome! We’ve been enjoying a relatively incident-free period with The Boy, too, although I feel like I might jinx it just be writing these words 🙂
    It’s nice to be able to relax, even just a tiny bit…

  6. autismvox says:

    Just got back from a little biking trip.
    @Liz,
    I so wish I had known what I know now about parenting back when Charlie was younger–who doesn’t, indeed!
    ABA has been so important for Charlie. But, there are some things about it that I think can create problems that need to be solved. With ABA teaching, there is such a huge emphasis on ‘appropriate’ behavior as what gets ‘positively reinforced’ that any kind of protesting behavior or ‘non-compliance’ is viewed as negative. And of course Charlie, like anyone (I think I’ve already got a bit of an incident report on me today, ha) gets frustrated and annoyed in the course of the day. And what I’ve learned is that he needs validation for knowing that he can feel frustrated and express that frustration (preferably in ways that are reasonable).
    Sometimes when things happen I can trace them to some parenting slips. One might be Charlie saying ‘no more head bangs.’ There was a time when we said that quite a bit, out of a great deal of frustration and desperation. Not once when Charlie was younger did saying ‘no more head bangs’ ever prevent him from doing more—I always regretted saying it and don’t at all anymore. But Charlie — all the helmet business — knows that head-banging is something that he shouldn’t so and has been such a focus.
    More to say in a bit—hoping for incident-free times upon all of our households for quite a bit!

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