Most of you are aware by now that Gavin is REALLY struggling with self-injury. What set’s Gavin apart from some other kids on the spectrum is that his self-injury is a choice and not a compulsion. By choice, I mean he does it as a means of manipulating a situation. The is simply a fact and not really open to interpretation. Some people may not agree with that but it has been PROVEN time and time again.
If Gavin were an only child then it would be more easily dealt with but because he’s not a only child we are presented with a major problem. In many ways Gavin has more influence over Elliott and Emmett then we do. They WORSHIP him and model their behavior after him. This is where we have our problems. In some cases Gavin can be a positive influence but in many more cases he is a horrible example for the younger ones to follow. I have brought this up a few times before. Elliott and Emmett are now modeling the self-injurious behavior. Last night it came to a head and I had to implement some “outside the box” thinking.
Last night Elliott became upset over something (I honestly don’t remember what). However, when he did he started hitting himself in the face and I MEAN HITTING HIMSELF IN THE FACE. As he was hitting himself we was screaming “I’m such a stupid jerk”. That was it…..I was done. I was time to implement “Plan B”. “Plan B” was discussed a few weeks back at a meeting with Dr. Patti. We were discussing the impact Gavin’s behaviors were having on Elliott and Emmett both. Nothing seems to work with Gavin. He just keeps on doing what he’s doing and making bad choices…….and once again they ARE choices. Sometimes being a special needs parent requires you to think “outside the box”. This means you have to come up with “unconventional” ideas. Ideas others would either not agree with or think crazy. That said, I suggested that we hold Gavin accountable for Elliott and or Emmett hitting themselves when they get upset. We would, of course, hold Elliott and Emmett accountable as well and work with them to discourage the behavior as well as learn better ways of dealing with frustration. At the same time we would hold Gavin accountable as well because as long as he continues to be a negative example there will be consequences. Dr. Patti really liked the idea and so we had it in reserve for when the time would come.
That time arrived last night. When Elliott started punching himself in the face and calling himself “stupid jerk” I was done. I called Gavin over and told him that he would be having oatmeal for dinner. That’s right, we use oatmeal to “deter” Gavin’s inappropriate behavior. It’s the only thing that works and honestly, how big of a punishment is it really? It’s frickin oatmeal, it’s not like we’re grounding him or anything like that. What we do is substitute oatmeal for whatever he was going to have for dinner, lunch or breakfast. At the same time we also held Elliott accountable as well and took his DSi away for the rest of the evening. Elliott was upset but he got over it. Gavin on the other hand launched into a HUGE meltdown, where he ironically, continued to self-injure. I had to remove him from the first floor and escort him to his room where he proceeded to assault himself. It’s very difficult to watch your child do that but in our case we have to let him go (at least to a certain point). If we give him any attention then we reinforce it. If you have ever watched one of his meltdown videos you’ll hear me say things in a very “matter of fact” almost callus way. If we show ANY emotion or react, then he gets what he’s aiming for and that is control.
Last night Gavin was especially brutal to himself. I thought we was going to break his nose. He hit himself in the head so hard it looks like he was hit in the head with a baseball bat. I DO NOT feel comfortable playing this “let him go and don’t react” game. The experts tell us that “Gavin will stop before he seriously hurts himself”. To be completely honest, I don’t think he will. I think he will continue to escalate until he does serious damage. I have had to explain ALL dat today what happened to his forehead. Thank God everyone knows us pretty well. I even spoke with Gavin’s Sensei this morning and asked him to speak with him about respecting his body and making better choices. I think we are running out of options. We may have to take him back to Akron Children’s and have him admitted again. I don’t know what else to do. All I know is I CANNOT allow this to continue to affect the boys.