In the past, Janey's bad moods often felt like hurricanes. We could sense they were coming, and once they arrived, they lasted a bit of a while. Then, when they left, they usually were followed by a good mood, like the nice weather that often comes after a hurricane. But lately, her moods feel more like tornadoes. They arrive suddenly and violently, doing intense damage, and then lift up to the sky and leave a shattered day behind, even if it's sunny and nice out.
Yesterday was a huge case in point. We went for a family ride and got some Chipolte, everyone's favorite. We were driving home, all very cheerful. I was feeling almost on a high, with my whole family in the car, joking and laughing and having a truly good time. I actually thought "This is great! This is what it's all about" And then, without warning, out of the blue, Janey attacked Freddy. She screamed and lunged at him, and bit him. She didn't break the skin, but it was scary. She was in a fury, hysterical. Freddy handled it well, but was in true pain. He did what we usually do for biting, yelled very loudly "NO BITING! STOP IT!" It is all that has ever seemed to work, despite other advice I've often read about ignoring the biting. That feels inorganic, impossible, and the yelling startles Janey. She did pull away from him, but reminded completely hysterical. We got home a minute or two later, all shaken.
Later that day, again, Janey lashed out, this time at William. Again, with no prior warning. Between these two times, she was fairly cheerful. I did what I have been trying to do lately, talked to her assuming she understands everything. I explained why we don't bite, told her that her brothers have feelings just like her, told her that it hurts them. She listened. She wasn't eager to say she was sorry to Freddy, but she did, finally. And then just hours later---the William bite.
I hate to write about Janey biting. I debated all day whether I would or not. But in the end, I want to be honest here. After a recent post, I had several people tell me it helped to know they weren't alone in dealing with these very tough behaviors. We all want to present our children in the best light. We all want to be positive, when we can. But that sometimes results in a blog world where Janey's particular type of autism is not spoken of. I can't do that, to myself or to others with children like Janey.
Tony and I feel hung over today. We are feeling very heavy-hearted. It will get better---it always does. We bounce back and regain our hope. But last night, after the bite, William told me he felt scared of Janey for the first time ever. William is almost 20, a tall big guy. But I didn't dismiss his fears. When Janey's outbursts come out of no-where, it's hard not to feel scared. We are feeling like we just don't know what to do next. I hope Janey doesn't carry this behavior into school. But we've been told, to get more help for her, sometimes that is what it takes. I don't want that. I don't think that should be the way to get help. And by help, sometimes I am starting to admit to myself I mean a possible residential placement. Those words make me cry, every single time. They make me despair. It's not what I want. I can't stand the thought of it. But maybe Janey needs more help than we can give her.
I hope what I am feeling today is how one feels after a tornado impacts them. Of course you feel overwhelmed, worried, shaken. But after a few days or weeks, you start to regroup. That is what we have always done, and that is what I want to keep doing. Anything else is so very hard to imagine.