Sunday, July 29, 2012

Stressful Times

Friday was the last day of summer school for Kai. He came home without his shirt.

Biting his shirts and ripping them to shreds is nothing new with Kai. He has done it many times now.

This summer, he actually had the best session of summer school of the three years he has attended. But even so, he destroyed about four or five shirts over the course of the past two months.

Earlier this summer, he got mad when his van was the last one to depart back to school after a field trip to the Jelly Belly factory. It did not help when the driver missed the exit and they were delayed further. And when he was back at school, he released his anger by chewing up his shirt. When I picked him up at school, most of the front of the shirt he was wearing was missing, with nothing there but the collar and sleeves. (He is pictured in it here, several hours later. He wanted to put it back on because he thought it looked like a superhero cape).

On this latest occasion, some of the kids were to be honored at the end-of-summer ceremony with a “gold medal” for being safe all summer, something Kai had known for some time now that he did not achieve. We also learned that he was anxious because the kids at school were competing in Olympic-type activities, and Kai has severe difficulty with the issue of being first, and with handling losing.

That combination apparently led to him getting angry and aggressive. He destroyed this shirt in the process.

The school is asking if we can find heavier shirts that are more difficult to rip apart. Umm, a knight’s armor, perhaps?

While we are somewhat used to hearing these types of incidents at school, the past few days he has been quicker to anger at home as well.

On Friday, he got angry when he and Mom were about to walk the dogs. He had trouble tying his shoes. Then he wanted to use the bathroom. Before we knew it, a little frustration turned into a big eruption. He told Mom to go walking without him, but then got mad when she did.

He threw to the floor all the things that were on the shelf in his room. He peed in the waste basket instead of the toilet. He said really mean things to me and my wife.

It took a long time, and more energy than I really had to expend that day, but he finally calmed down.

But the next day he had a similar eruption.

I’m not sure why he has had these episodes lately. Perhaps his medication needs tweaking. Or, maybe it is my own stress that is keeping me from being as patient with him as I need to be.

In raising Kai, it often feels like we take two steps back for every three steps forward. The past couple days, it has felt more like we are sliding back down the mountain after we had inched our way up.

Hopefully we can find a lift to take us back where we were before. Otherwise, I need to rest up for the long climb.


  1. By knowing the story behind the ripped shirt...and seeing the picture...I am sorry...but it is cute! His face looks so innocent in that picture!

    I can only imagine how you must I have never been through such events as a parent. I can only root for you as a parent. It must prove to be an endurance affair with in which you must pace yourself for the long haul. Psychologically, it must be very demanding. However, having Kai's cute innocent face looking back at you must give you a boost of extra patience.

    When my son sometimes does something wrong...and he gives me an innocent look...I start laughing inside...and much of my frustration melts away.

    1. Haha, yes his cute innocence during the good times helps get me through the tougher moments.

  2. Chewing shirts must be a common thing. I know of another little boy with autism that does that. Sorry it's been a stressful week. I'm pretty sure I asked you about the possibility of Naltrexone before but can't remember what you said. It's done wonders for our Alex. I know things don't work with every child, but it certainly might be worth a try.

    I had to laugh at the school asking for sturdier shirts. If you have to pay for them, you almost want disposable ones! haha. At least very inexpensive ones, right? :)

    1. Betsy, we have been to a few different doctors, but so far none have suggested Naltrexone. If I remember, I'll want to ask for an opinion on our next visit to see what they say.

      Ha, I think disposable shirts would be just the thing. Of course I hate to see this happen anytime, but it seems worse when he tears up a favorite t-shirt that was a remembrance of someplace we went or a gift from someone.

  3. I'm disappointed that the school want you to try and 'fix' the problem with heavier shirts - maybe first they could try other strategies?! I don't know, maybe Kai is a little old now for 'workarounds', but if it was my girl I'd be hoping school could give her a gold medal for something else at that time, or a silver medal, or something, and work out some team winning games rather than individuals with a 'first' place. My girl also struggles with that. As do lots of children, it's just the reactions from ours are more extreme and warrant different 'management' - preferably before the event!
    Am sure you will find the strength and energy from somewhere - we're all behind you.

    1. Steph, you raise good points and present interesting ideas. I don't want to knock the school too much here - they have been trying many other strategies and did not ask us to go with the heavier shirts as the first solution - but, in this latest case, I do wonder if they could have done something different. There is a balance in trying to teach a child to accept disappointments, and in knowing that because he is not capable of doing so, that alternative approaches may be needed. Knowing Kai, it was not a shock that he reacted the way he did, and taking other proactive steps to mitigate his reaction may have been helpful.

      Thanks for your support!

  4. I'm so sorry you guys are hitting a rough patch. And I agree with the commenter who says another approach could be used by the school with some kind of acknowledgement of Kai's efforts. And I have to say he does look adorable in that top. It's even cuter that he sees it as a cape!! >_< I hope it's just the hot summer that's got him out of whack and you find your way further up the mountain.

    1. I am sorry that you are going through a challenging time. In my experience, kids with transitions hate change and maybe this extra stress was brought by camp coming to an end.

      We have found that wearing Under Armour shirts (snuggly) under a tshirt helps him feel more secure and it would be another layer to chew.

      Hope you have an upswing in happiness soon!

    2. Hi Kelly,
      The coming change in schedule may have played a part in this... just hard to tell for sure.

      We have used Under Armour shirts as well, with some success...

      Though it hasn't been perfect as the holes in the UA shirts attest to. But lately he's outgrown many of those shirts so perhaps we need to get more! Is that part of the reason as well?


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