Thursday, May 01, 2008


I came home from lunch today and got to spend some mostly pleasant time with my kids because they had the day off from school (one of those "nobody really knows why we don't have school today" kind of days off from school). Anyway, I was having some sort of discussion with my son Jacob -- it may have even been a discussion where he was disagreeing or arguing with me. And at one point, Patrick gets frustrated, reaches over, and bites Jacob on the back.

This has been something of a recurrent struggle for Patrick. His autism leads him to have an oversensitivity to sound, and he seems to react to overly loud noises with either aggression or shutting down. Today, as you already know, he chose aggression.

My initial reaction was one of shock, and then of anger. Jacob had done nothing, really, and he didn't deserve to be attacked by his brother like that. So I yelled at Patrick "stop! You may NOT bite your brother!" And Patrick clamped on to Jacob's back for another minute or so before looking at me and I took him to his room for time-out.

A bit later, I worked on trying to induce some guilt in Patrick by showing him the bite marks he left on Jacob's back, and my wife and I talked to him about what he could have done differently.

Still, I find myself feeling a strong bit of guilt. Here's a kid who dislikes noise and I raised my voice pretty loud. I reacted out of anger when it would have been better if I had kept my cool. I reacted to my son's weakness by showing some of my own.

OK, I know this is hardly child abuse. And perhaps I'm being a bit hard on myself. Still, my hope is to model calm, reasoned problem solving in response to stress. Today, I'm afraid I fell short.


more cows than people said...

oh, dear steve. you ARE human. how painful is it when one of your beloved children hurts your other beloved child? and how scary? you were being real if not ideal. much love to you.

Diane said...

It's hard to always know just what to do. sometimes it doesn't seem to be just right. but it will be all right.

Gannet Girl said...

As have we all (fallen short.)