Lately, I have been enjoying the TV show, The Walking Dead. I love a good post-apocalyptic story and The Walking Dead fits the mold.
Last night as I watched, a character got infected and turned into a zombie. Not really giving anything away here, happens almost every episode.
But before the character started on a blood thirsty rampage as a zombie, he was a docile, loving human. The change is always so dramatic.
Which made me think of our autism household.
Autism and Aggression
“Hi Bob-by..” Declan said and continued to sing with his iPad as he walked by.
“Hi Declan,” Bobby returned with a limp smile on his face.
Bobby put his book bag down and walked into the kitchen.
“Hey,” I said in greeting, “How do you feel?”
I looked to the back of Bobby’s head as he put his head down to let me see the affected area.
“It hurt a lot today. Every time I walked I could feel it. It is really swollen.”
I could see a bump on the side of his head. An area of hair was undulated, red and had clumped together. Below the clump a thin red line could be seen.
Before school that morning, Bobby was playing a video game online with one of his friends. The cold weather had brought ice and a 2-hour delay from school.
Bobby let Declan sit with him as he played. Declan sat listening to his songs. As time went on, Declan became agitated.
And from the other room I heard a loud thunk followed by Bobby’s scream. Agitated to aggression, Declan had drilled an X-Box controller into the side of Bobby’s head.
A bruise quickly appeared on Bobby’s cheek and a towel was grabbed to collect the blood that came out the back of his head.
Declan was deescalated and taken to another area to calm down. Bobby was given hugs and ice for the swelling.
Minutes later, Declan was sitting quietly watching TV. Bobby collected his materials for school with a depressed gait and demeanor. And a painful bump on the head.
A long time ago I wrote about the 4 most challenging autism behaviors, at least for our family.
- Food Sensitivities
Aggression is a challenge for Declan. And by far the behavior that I have the most fear around.
Through the years we have all faced Declan’s aggressive beast inside. Birthday pictures of the kids with scratches on their faces. Scratches on arms, red faces from objects thrown at them. We have all learned a protective stance. Two large flat screen TV’s have had their screens broken by Declan’s aggressive beast. Two computers, one phone.
When I watched The Walking Dead, and the transformation last night, I thought of my own beloved, Declan. A happy, loving, peaceful boy – unless he becomes agitated.
When Declan was younger, he was unable to express his needs, wants or even likes. Without his speech, he was frustrated and aggressive.
Now, Declan has speech. We kind of know the things that set him into an aggressive state, and work away from those. Even at school, the teachers are aware of the kids that upset Declan, and keep them separated.
But there are still times when the aggression comes fast and unannounced.
At those times we work to keep everyone safe. To try to get Declan to a physical or mental place where he can deescalate. For all of us to deescalate and get our bearings back together.
Ultimately, Declan is a peaceful loving being, who has autism. One part of Declan’s autism is an aggressive beast inside. Occasionally the beast forces its way out. And we must deal with the beast in a protective way to get our loving child back.
And continue to take notes. To learn what new trigger might be out there to help prevent future acts from the aggressive beast inside.