Last Saturday morning, there was a brief period during which peace and quiet reigned. I mention this because it is such a rare occurrence. Peace and quiet, much like Halley’s Comet or a solar eclipse, only happens in my house once every eighty years or so. George, who is seven and has autism, was constructing a Lego tower that could rival Toronto’s CN Tower in height. James, who is almost five, had enlisted me to play with him and two hundred of his favourite cars. We were all content. The calm before the storm.
All of a sudden, for reasons unknown, all hell broke loose. George let out an ear-piercing scream of rage, ferociously threw his Lego against the wall and fled from the room. I took off after him, knowing that I had to get to him before he started smashing his head on the hardwood floor in the hall. I reached him just in time and dragged him kicking and screaming back to the carpeted area. With an expertise born of prior experience, I wrestled him into a full-length position on the floor, and then used my body weight to immobilize him. He was screaming in what sounded like anger, but was probably something closer to despair or frustration.
I lay there on the floor with him for maybe an hour, maybe more. I softly spoke reassurances into his ear – I love you. It’s OK. You’re safe. You’re a good boy. I love you. – hoping and trusting that my words were cutting through his frustration and his screams. Whenever I looked into his eyes, I saw utter despair. The kind of despair that twists your heart and makes you wish for the ability to take all of your child’s pain onto your own shoulders. (more…)