For most of us.
Chocolate Cake is in constant motion if not looking at a screen. He just cannot relax into a clam state. I wish I had some magic glitter to sprinkle on his head so he could just be still. I don’t need him to be still. I don’t care if he roams through my house nosing around. But I think he would welcome some moments of feeling content and calm and safe, and not needing to move. When he wanders, it is not in slow motion and not just our of curiosity. It’s more like he has to move, he has to keep looking for something that will provide relief
As the evening wore on, food was eaten, Chocolate Cake and Movieman had watched a show only teenagers could understand, and we were all outside watching the sky (3 from the pool on tubes and floating loungers), Chocolate Cake became really restless. He was in, then out, then over here, then over there. He was starting to request squishes from his dad.
Let me describe a squish. It includes squeezing as well as being squeezed. He is a big guy- 6’3″ or so, probably a bit taller. So what he wants can only be done by and to his father. Poor dad is shorter than Chocolate Cake. When Chocolate Cake squishes his dad, he squeezes hard and lifts his dad off the ground and sort of shakes him around like a rag doll. It is a sight. But this is what Chocolate Cake needs to restore his sense of well-being. Dad tries to avoid this (quite understandable as I think Chocolate Cake could crack a rib). Sadly, Chocolate Cake would like this multiple times a day.
Chocolate Cake becomes less and less able to cope. Mom wanders the yard with him, talking calmly to him about all sorts of things. Just sweet nothings kind of talk. Not about his behavior. Not about the increasingly louder vocal stims. She was trying to find a way to meet her son’s needs. She was not judging.
They wandered to the basketball hoop, he leaned against the pole, Mom applied pressure by leaning on him. They strolled some more. Mom went to the opposite side of the yard and asked Chocolate Cake to come on over. They sat and watched the sky. She offered him one of her hands to squeeze. She kept talking sweet nothings. She wanted him to see just one shooting star, then they can go. Chocolate Cake was de-escalated.
Reminder. Chocolate Cake is 17 years old.
His sensory needs were never addressed or met at school. He can no longer feel safe in a school. Too much trauma.
Imagine, if you can, that every minute of your school day is about teachers negatively consequencing you for behaviors out of your control. Imagine being put in seclusion and restraints because you need to move, need to stim, cannot be comfortable, cannot say why- and when you engage in behaviors that provide relief (standing, pacing, making a little noise, getting and giving a good sensory squeeze), you are punished.
Imagine being at school in that state of dis-ease, searching, searching, searching for relief, some way to feel OK. Imagine nobody understanding, nobody trying to understand, nobody offering you relief, showing you care, allowing you to find relief. Imagine this at 4 years old. Imagine it at 7 years old, and 10, and 13……
That is repeated trauma from neglect at the very least. It’s continuous trauma from negative consequences because you are you, wired differently, always uncomfortable. Too many years of this, any one of us would have PTSD. The relentless erosion of trust and sense of well-being takes an indescribable toll.
Schools don’t do kids like Chocolate Cake well. The most common methods cause great harm and the damage is far-reaching. The maltreatment of kids like Chocolate Cake forever changes their lives. It changes them as people, warps their sense of self, makes it absolutely impossible for them to trust others, to function in the community, to find their bliss.
Luckily Chocolate Cake has the mom he has. She has no idea how gifted she is. What she does know is that she is his lifeline. I worry about her. I worry for her. Even when in-home therapists come to their house to be with Chocolate Cake, Mom cannot be too far away.
Now imagine that. Imagine being mom to a kid like Chocolate Cake. Imagine loving him so fiercely and loyally. Imagine watching your own kid being misunderstood and mistreated at every turn. Imagine fighting every single day with school personnel, trying to make them understand, only to be negatively treated and considered an obstructionist when you decline services that you know will cause further harm to your kid.
Just imagine that.