Researchers followed a group of mothers and their children for eight days, interviewing moms at the end of each day and on four days measuring hormone levels associated with stress. They found the level of chronic stress experienced by these mothers was similar to that of combat soldiers. And the greater the child’s behaviour problems, the worse the mother’s stress.
My son doesn’t have autism, but I have to admit to feeling “in the trenches” this morning when I got a phone call from his school. Ben is in a class for kids who are deaf and hard of hearing in a high school for students with mild intellectual disability.
It was the principal, asking if Ben had mentioned anything last night about an incident that happened at school yesterday. He hadn’t.
Apparently the class and a few staff went to the park at the end of the day. Ben reached down and picked up a cigarette butt. I’m not sure if he did put it to his lips, or was going to, but one of the support staff was angry enough to drag him across the playground and push him into his wheelchair.
Two other staff reported that person to the principal and she was sent home when she arrived at work this morning. Then the police were called and a report was filed.
I was asked by the police to look for bruises or scratches on Ben tonight (I hadn’t noticed any last night, but I wasn’t really looking).
I couldn’t imagine which of the staff had been involved because they all seemed excellent when I met them at a recent parent night.
When the police told me, I could only picture a warm, energetic, motivated woman I thought was absolutely delightful.
I felt horrible for Ben and how he must have felt. I felt badly that he hadn’t tried to tell us what had happened, or perhaps he felt he couldn’t. I wondered if perhaps the situation was overblown. And I couldn’t help feeling sad and sorry for the staff person involved, who I imagined was sitting at home feeling as terrible as I was.
And then I couldn’t help feeling like I wished this wasn’t happening to us, wasn’t something we had to deal with. I couldn't help feeling shame. I knew my son was a challenge, but was he that impossible?
My hands shook and my chest ached. There I was, in the trenches.