Yesterday was one of the worst times we have had with Jacob. This blog post won't be eloquent or end happily- I am too emotional for that right now.
I am so torn up about what to do in future situations like this. I'm sick over it and it is all I can think about. Here's what happened:
Our evening routine is that Jacob takes a bath, takes his medicine, brushes his teeth, then has his vitamins. This has been working really well for us- he's actually been happy to get in the bath and do this routine after many years of struggling to get him bathed and clean.
So Stephanie, our caregiver who comes 5 afternoons a week to work with/play with/teach Jacob, was here, as usual. (This is the woman who's nose Jacob broke several months ago. Last week he bruised her ribs and she spent hours in the ER thinking they were broken.) She has made it clear that if Jacob is hurting her, we have to do what she has been trained to do when dealing with aggressive clients.
This woman has worked with several autistic/dd clients over the years, and was raised in a home with special needs foster children, and her experiences have helped us greatly. We have been trying to eliminate Jacob's violent behavior for years, and told her that at this point we were willing to try it her way. She also made it known that if Jacob continues to hurt her, and we aren't willing to restrain him with her, she can't work here anymore.
I completely understand this. She was being hurt, and who would stay at a job making $11 an hour, with no benefits, when you are being attacked? Not me. So we agreed, she taught us what to do, and we haven't had to use it until yesterday.
Ok, so at 7 pm he got out of the bath, perfectly happy and ready to do the rest of his bedtime routine.
Then something upset him- not totally sure what when any little thing can set him off- and he grabbed Stephanie's hair really hard and wouldn't let go. I came in and had to pry his hands loose, and in the 30 seconds that took his mood had completely changed and he's pissed. He grabbed the jar of vitamins and throws it at the wall, scratches me, and hit me. He claws her arm and my chest. I grab his arms from behind him so he can't hit me, because this is what Stephanie taught us to do. I have to manhandle him to his room, which is really hard when he's fighting and protesting and he weighs 165 lbs.
Since removing him from the situation didn't help, and he's super mad and continues hurting us and destroying things in his bedroom, we do the next step which is to have one of us on either side of him, holding his arms so he can't punch or hit, and pinning his legs down with ours. We were on the bed but typically, and ideally, this would be done against the wall where we have a bot more control over his movement.
He won't stop. He is so dang strong and he's using his whole body to head butt, bite, scratch, spit, etc. He manages several times to wrangle himself loose, attacking as fiercely as he can. Both of us are holding him and still we are both being hurt.
I am HATING it. It is AWFUL to be holding and restraining your baby. Awful. I'm crying, trying not to make it obvious because I don't know how that will play into the situation. Jacob's crying. Is he afraid? Mad? Hurt? Confused? All of these? I don't know. But the point is to not let him go until he can remain calm for 20 seconds.
We held him there for an hour.
An hour!!! An emotionally exhausting, physically draining, heart wrenching hour. About 30 minutes in, Chris came and took my place. I went out and got Jacbb his meds, knowing once they hit his system it would calm him down, and then we were 3 on one as I held his legs and they continued to hold his arms.
Chris is so visibly upset. I know he wants to make us stop, to make Stephanie leave and stop this torture, to hold Jacob until he's ok. I do, too. It really sucks.
During this time we are trying to talk to him, rub his back, turn his attention to a cartoon, but not releasing our grip. Nothing is working. I hate it. Tyler and Madison, while all this was happening, are in the hallway crying and telling us to stop and at one point yelling at us to leave him alone. It was so traumatic for all of us.
After an hour, and finally when he showed about 10 seconds of calmness, I say, "ok, that's good, Jacob, lay down with mommy." He immediately turns to me and holds me so tight and he's crying and I'm crying and it takes 10 minutes for him to be asleep, our arms so tight around each other, our faces wet with tears and pressed together.
Stephanie sits in the room with us during this time. She is as worn out and stressed about it as Chris and I, but there is also an air of satisfaction to her, since we did what she had been telling us we needed to. She's not gloating or anything, but she is obviously glad to have done this. The ultimate goal is that he'll realize he can't be so mean and aggressive, and if we do this a few times he will stop acting out so violently and it should take less and less time as we progress.
I'm am so confused as to what to do now. If Jacob continues to hurt us so often and violently we have no other choice than to have him live somewhere else. This is the worst thing I can imagine. I need him and he needs me, and to have him being taken care of by someone who doesn't love him kills me. I can't imagine not having his precious face at home with me everyday, hugging me when he gets off the bus, holding my hand when we walk together. I cherish these moments.
But how many noses will he break, how many bites and bruises and head butts until someone gets really hurt and we have no choice? There have been many times one of us has been unable to breathe as he weighs us down, or sure that our fingers are about to snap when he bends hands backwards.
Should we persist and use this restraining method to see if it starts to work? Can I handle doing it again? Is it really helping or is it drawing out the negative situation? I don't have any answers. Maybe there is another method that would be effective, but we feel like we have tried them all over the years. Nothing has been effective in eliminating his aggression.
Now I wonder if I can get some kind of medication to inject, like they do on TV to mental patients when they are going nuts, just to calm them down in the heat of the moment. It sounds like an easy solution, but how could I do that? Shoot up my child with strong, sedating medications? I'd almost rather be hurt by him than force that upon him young body.
If we don't try this current, difficult method, Stephanie won't work for us. She isn't willing to be hurt so much by a child who isn't even her own. I don't blame her for that. Yet she has made so many improvements in the time she has been here, we really value her help. Things have been progressing well, advances have been made, and most of it we contribute to her skills.
I am so afraid of doing the wrong thing. I love him so much. I hate to hold him down. I don't know what any other solutions are. I need help.
P.S. Thanks, Brooke! :)