I think Fiver had a hard day, but I can't be sure because talking to him can be difficult. It's hard to explain, but we very rarely have a linear conversation with a natural progression in topics. Our conversations are circular, with us asking the same question about twelve different ways. We rarely get a complete answer.
He came out of school grumpy, which is unusual, and he was whining that he was thirsty. While we rode home, he complained about the minor scratch on his hand like he had lost the entire limb. I know that he feels things more intensely when he is tired, so I figured he would forget about it once I got him home and watered.
At home, I noticed some extra stimming, which is another big clue to his state of mind. He has a hand-held video game with a pause button, and he must have spent a solid five minutes pushing and releasing the pause button. I know, five minutes doesn't sound all that long. But set a timer for five minutes and then do nothing but push one button over and over for the duration and you'll see how long five minutes can be.
Of course, he also went straight down to his trains and watched them go around the track for a while. He needed to escape to his own world and I let him go.
While going through his folder, I found two letters that helped shed some more light on the day.
The first was a note from his teacher saying that Fiver has pushed some children at recess. He had a brief timeout, and his teacher sent home the note just to keep us informed. Since pushing people is very out of character for Fiver, I wanted to find out more.
Fiver rarely touches other people with his arms. For a long time, he didn't have the strength to hug people, so he would simply lean his head on a person as a sign of affection. He will give weak hugs now, but pushing, real down and dirty pushing, still requires more strength than Fiver can usually muster.
He admitted that he had pushed someone and that he had timeout, but from his explanation I couldn't understand what he actually did. Finally, I asked him to demonstrate. Without using his arms, he pushed his body against mine until he could get past me. Sort of like a weak headbutt.
Rob spoke with him about it later, and we eventually pieced together what is a common reaction from Fiver. He becomes so focused on doing one certain thing in one certain way that he manages to become oblivious to everyone around him. During cross country, he will run without watching out for the other runners. We routinely have to say, "Fiver! Watch out!" before he even realizes he's about to run into someone.
In this case, he was trying to get somewhere on the playground, and rather than deviate from his perceived course, he pushed past another child. The child was fine, but that doesn't matter. The principle of the matter is that he needs to be aware, and he needs to learn that it's all right to alter your original plan of action.
The second letter in his folder was from the speech pathologist who comes to the school from the local intermediate unit. She performs routine screenings of the children to see if any of them might qualify for further evaluation.
Hey, guess who requires further evaluation?
She indicated that she wanted to test him for auditory processing issues, and I cannot say that I am surprised. In fact, this is the area that his neurologist red-flagged the last time he was there.
Many auditory processing problems do not become apparent until the child gets into a full-time school setting, so we had even alerted his teacher and principal that these issues may be on the his horizon.
Fiver, who has been in therapy for half his life, is no dummy when it comes to these kinds of tests. Other kids may think it's like school or a fun game, but he knows the deal and he really dislikes taking them. I guess I can't blame him; I might be more than a little weary of them myself. I think by the time recess rolled around he was at his limit of carefully controlled behavior.
And this may sound strange, but I was a little bummed to read the letter from the therapist. I certainly knew that this may happen. In fact, I may have even expected it on some level, but in other ways I guess I fooled myself into thinking that Fiver would be able to meet a milestone without some kind of difficulty.
It's tiring to always focus on what he can't do, so we celebrate what he can do and what he has learned to do and how far he has come. We insulate ourselves with our loving families and our close knit group of friends and therapists. To them, Fiver is just Fiver. We don't have all the constant explaining.
When we get letters like this, from someone who has no knowledge of Fiver's background, it just brings it all back to me: This is really real and other people notice. It's jarring. Is that dumb? Probably yes. Definitely yes.
I'm sure everything will settle down for him, and we will see what this "further evaluation" brings our way. But until then, I think we may be in for some more bumpy days. For both of us.