Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Roller Coaster

I cried because Nikko had a terrible day at school yesterday. Horrible meltdowns.

I cried because Nikko had a better day at school today. No meltdowns.

That would be the autism roller coaster we've been riding lately.

Last night I witnessed the worse meltdown Nikko has ever had at home. The weeks and days have been worsening as a whole, but the apex of this trip occurred during the nighttime prayers and tuck-in for the kids. Nikko was mumbling strange scripts at a feverish pace, peppered with whining and tongue clicks. His movements were jerky and tic-like. I could see him squirming and starting to coil his legs in a kangaroo-jumping stance. In the middle of the darkened room illuminated by an LED night light, Nikko stood up and tearfully started screaming. His fists clenched as he beat his legs. I ushered him out of the little kids' room and took him to his own room where he started pounding at his arms and shoulders with his fists. I tried to block one of his punches and his fist landed on the back of my hand with a hard thud. I couldn't believe he wasn't expressing how much he was hurting himself, but I was also shocked how loud and blood-curdling his screams were, as if there was something inside of him trying to get out. I held him as close as I could, tried to give his arms and back some deep-pressure strokes, tried to cradle his head from the violent rocking, and grabbed his wrists from behind so he would stop hitting himself. Nikko pounded his feet on the wooden floor and kicked at anything in front of him, screaming, screaming. Between screams I faced him and told him in a calm voice that I was there, that he was safe, that he was going to be OK. I kept putting my arms around him as best I could. He was still rambling in tongues throughout this meltdown, and I think he tired of my monotone reassurance and said, "Go to bed!" That meant he wanted to lie down in his bed, finally. I helped him get his preferred blankets and Buddy Bear around him, listening to Thomas and Percy and Bertie and Word World and The Lego Movie roll off his tongue in an effort to get out of his head. He was calming down. I turned out the light and knelt by his bedside with my cell phone flashlight nearby on low. I thought about his teachers and aides and what they must have dealt with today at school. Was this the same intensity that they witnessed? Did they stare at him in horror? My poor, poor Nikko had raged as if a demon was ripping its way through him, and he couldn't tell anyone how he felt. I think my heart broke into a million pieces. 

This morning I was hoping that his mood would have settled, but the demon was still lurking. Nikko had a few screaming and jumping moments after breakfast as I packed lunches for school, but he stopped pacing and asked, "Can you help with computer? Please [prompted]?" I really hesitated to let him have screen time, but we were leaving for school in 15 minutes so I relented. He scooted up in his seat to stare intently at Sid the Science kid clips on YouTube, and then.... the mask lifted... he laughed... the clouds parted and all was right with the world again. Sunny Nikko came out and while his scripting didn't stop, he didn't have any meltdowns today. I haven't shed this many tears within 24 hours in a long time.