Elliott came downstairs this morning to let me know that Emmett had said something that really upset him. I assumed this was just more bickering and perhaps a bit of tattling.
However, I was completely caught off guard when he told me that Emmett said “I want to kill myself”.
For those of you that don’t know, Emmett is our 4 year old little boy. He was officially diagnosed with #Autism about a year and a half ago.
One of Emmett’s challenges has to do with speech and communication. While he has made great strides he still struggles with expressive language and can be very difficult to understand. This makes him very frequently frustrated and understandably so.
Apparently Emmett had become very frustrated with himself over something he was working on.
He reached a frustration level where he began hitting himself – this is something he learned from watching his oldest brother- and he shouted “I want to kill myself”. This pretty much freaked Elliott out and he came to get help.
I immediately sat down with Emmett and asked him what was wrong. He was just very frustrated because he had lost something and couldn’t find it.
I was pretty sure that he didn’t really want to kill himself or for that matter even understand what he had said. Having said that, I wanted to take this seriously, without making a huge deal out of it.
I basically, told him that nothing should ever make him so frustrated that he wants to hurt himself. If he does get that frustrated, it’s my job to help him through it.
I explained that it makes me sad when he hits himself and even sadder when he gets hurt.
I pretty much left it at that.
That was totally shooting from the hip and I don’t know if that was the right thing to say.
I mean really, how many 4 year olds say that they want to kill themselves? My guess is that he heard this during one of Gavin’s tantrums and just sorta filed it away for another time. I don’t think he had any idea what he was saying.
This is one of the things that Gavin’s behaviors have led to.
Of course Gavin isn’t responsible for Emmett actions. He didn’t make him do anything. However, Gavin has a huge amount of influence over his brothers and they not only look up to him but also learn from his example. When Gavin gets mad he hurts himself. Unfortunately, the boys have been witness to this far to many times and have learned that you hit yourself when you get angry or frustrated.
Believe me, we have tried to counter this but it just doesn’t work out well.
I’m pretty sure that’s when he learned to say “I want to kill myself.” Gavin has been known to say that when he gets angry with us as a means of trying to manipulate us.
Like I said, I wanted Emmett to know that we don’t hurt ourselves when we get angry and that it makes me sad when he does hurt himself. I reinforced how much I love him and tried to show him how to better handle his frustration going forward. He knows that I’m there for him and for know, that should suffice.. I hope.
I’ll be honest with you. It’s heartbreaking to hear those words come out of a small child’s mouth, let alone my own small child.
I’m also frustrated and angry because this is the impact Gavin has had on his younger brothers. Instead of being a positive influence these are the things he’s taught them. They never seem to pick up on the good things Gavin is very capable of doing.
We will of course let Dr. Patti know about this next week but for now, I think it’s dealt with.