I often sit to write a blog post when I have too much on my mind and I need to organize it. This has been a very challenging week. We had a few rough Matthew days, and I had actually put in a call to see if Matthew could go back to Healy house, a 3 week respite program. I was at the point where I needed some time that I could be guaranteed that we wouldn't have to deal with a tantrum, and I was watching Jacob begin to struggle again with Matthew. I felt like a break for all of us was in order and after Matthew put a hole in the bathroom door, I put in a request for a respite at Healy House. Unfortunately the wait was 2-3 weeks, so while we were waiting life proceeded as normal.
The rule in our house for a long time has been that Matthew gets a certain amount of snacks in a day, and if he eats food that he is not supposed to, then he loses his snacks in the afternoon. For example, on Wednesday Matthew ate 3 bowls of cereal- I had left one out for each boy for breakfast and he ate all 3- and so I told him that he could not have a snack after school, he would be allowed fruit or vegetables, but no treats.
Matthew of course became upset, but was less upset than usual, and this upset occurred before the school bus came. Matthew began to threaten that he wasn't taking the bus, and I figured when the bus pulled up either he would get on the bus, or he wouldn't. When the bus came, it was pretty obvious to me that he wasn't going to get on, so I told the bus to go ahead. The driver called out to Matthew that he should come and tried to encourage him. Matthew then went into the garage and was kicking some boxes that were in the garage. His bus aide came into the garage and told Matthew to stop kicking the boxes, and that he was kicking my stuff. Matthew replied, as only an angry kid can, that it was "HIS stuff". What happened next shocked and sickened me. The bus aide got in Matthew's face and pointed her finger at him, and stated, "I am saying this in front of your mom, if you were my kid I would beat you to death and I wouldn't care if that meant I would go to jail".
Of all the times, in all the world that I hoped Matthew would be confused, or wouldn't understand what had happened, this was the time I would have prayed the hardest. No one in the world deserves to hear such a thing, especially not from someone who they think cares about them.
I said nothing- whenever I think about this, that is my biggest regret-I wish Matthew had heard me say something to the bus aide, so he knew that I heard what she said and it made me mad.
As part of the investigation, the principal talked to Matthew later in the day about what had happened, and he was able to tell her pretty much exactly what occurred- the only thing that he said differently is that he says the aide said she would "beat him down". not better or worse, just a different thing to say.
The head of transportation and the school district is doing an investigation into what happened and will take whatever action it deems appropriate. I hate to think that any other child will have to deal with this woman again, and I truly hate to think what this woman may have been saying to my son all year long, but it is now up to the district what happens. I have been reassured that this woman will not be on Matthew or David's bus again, and so I have done all I can to ensure my boys are safe.
As all of this was going on, I met with the social worker who was seeing Jacob. Apparently he is pretty consistently putting people in cages while he plays. He talks about feeling nervous and scared. Then last Wednesday when he was asked to draw a picture of his family Jacob drew just a picture of his Papa and a motorcycle. The entire rest of the class drew their family, Jacob was clear that he was requested to draw his family, and yet all he drew was his Papa. I know that Jacob has some wonderful, wonderful support, and I trust that he is a very resilient child, but it is sad to hear that on the same day Matthew's world crumbled a little, Jacob's world was also crumbling.
On Friday I got a call that Healy house had an opening, but after all that Matthew had been through I decided I simply couldn't send him to Healy House right now. He needed the security of being home, and of feeling loved. I know that I have made the right decision, because this weekend Matthew has refused to be too far from my side. He had both of his reshab therapists come and usually he would go out with them which allows us all a break. This weekend it took a lot of coaxing for me to get him to even go with them for 20 minutes, and even then he was anxious. The fact that one person could create such havoc with such hateful words sickens me.
On Friday I also had a meeting with Matthew's classroom staff. I felt like it was important that they hear 2 things from me. The first thing is that when I set out to adopt children, I planned to adopt typically developing children. That said, I wouldn't change my life for anything. However, there is something to be said for someone who emotionally sets out to adopt children with special needs, and someone who is surprised by the needs of the children they birth or adopt. I am still often going through periods of grief and acceptance and often this is a challenge for those who work with my boys as I struggle emotionally to meet the needs of my boys.
The second thing I felt they needed to know is that in the Skills level self contained classes grades 1st-5th in Bethlehem there are 20 kids. Of those kids, many mainstream for some portion of the day into general education classes. 2 of these 20 children live in MY house! That is 1/10 of the children in skills classes live under the same roof and neither of my boys mainstream at all.
In each of the skills classes there are 10 kids, a teacher, 3-4 aides, AND a speech therapist, OT, PT, and a social worker. At any one time, some of the kids have mainstreamed or are in a therapy session out of the room. In my house there are TWO kids with intense special needs, 1 child who receives OT, Speech and Social work and 1 mom! I am pretty outnumbered!
I am working on giving myself a break. I need to again recognize that I am one person, who can only do so much. When our world was rocked this week, I was able to close rank and pull my boys close and we are stronger because of it.
In positive news, David has a true friendship. He has mentioned missing a friend who was on vacation this week and has asked about him a lot. He was aware that his friend would not be at school last week and was upset, and was aware tonight that his friend will be back at school tomorrow and went to bed very excited to see his buddy. That is huge growth for David and certainly worth celebrating!
- I am a single mom of three amazing boys! All three of my sons entered my family through adoption. All three of my boys have developmental disabilities. My oldest son, Matthew has been diagnosed with Fetal Alcohol Syndrome and Bipolar Disorder. David, my middle son, has a genetic condition, he has a duplication on his 15th chromosome which leads to autism like symptoms, seizures and learning challenges. My youngest son, Jacob has learning disabilities. Each of my children bring unique challengs to our family and also bring their own personality and joys to our everyday life!