I have noticed lately because of some glaringly obvious issues that everything with raising a child happens in "stages" or "phases". For Colin, some of those stages stand out more than they do for Kailey and getting through them sometimes feels like big victories while other times you look back and realize you silently got out of it. We've had the "he's not eating phase", "when will he walk? phase", "just go to bed! phase", "we're not going anywhere with the potty phase", and most recently (and most glaringly difficult) the "he can't effectively communicate so he's resorting to physical behaviors phase".
Chris and I have been working really hard on managing Colin's more challenging behaviors because we feel it's important, no matter how many times it takes, for Colin to understand that even though it may be more difficult and frustrating for him, he still is expected to behave a certain way. With most of the behaviors we have been dealing with, it is obvious to us that Colin understands that what he is doing is wrong because his typical response to reprimand is to drop his head down and say sorry. It seems that in the moment, he often makes impulsive decisions to react simply because he doesn't have any other alternate way to do so. He is monitored closely at school and we receive notes home whether or not he had "quiet hands" that day or not. When these behaviors started, they were mainly when another student invaded his personal space and he could not communicate in any other way that it was too close. His response was to push away. We even saw some typical toddler behaviors during circle with pushing/poking.
This year, these behaviors have grown and I am finding that the frustration level has significantly increased. Not that I am justifying these behaviors in any way, but we find that his inappropriate responses are reflective of a situation he doesn't have words to use to handle in the moment. That's not to say that he CAN'T communicate because he is vocal when there is something he doesn't like or want.
Today was a particularly frustrating day because generally the response we got from both public and private school was negative. Apparently, he cried getting on the bus in the afternoon, wouldn't get off at daycare, was basically dragged up to his classroom despite his protests, and cried in the doorway inconsolably. He wouldn't lay down on his mat, wouldn't take a nap, threw a book, and was just not listening even to reprimand.
I'll be honest, this phase is a tough one and today gave me a feeling of unease and dread in the pit of my stomach. I know that we need to continue to work through because there is clearly something upsetting and frustrating Colin. It saddens me that I can't ask Colin why he was so sad today because even when I do, he is unable to answer me. I worry that the negative aspects of Colin's behavior are going to take away from all of the positive things that make him such a loving and awesome little boy because all everyone is going to see is the "boy who is misbehaving and giving us such a hard time". I worry that even though some of it does, a lot of it will be attributed because he is a little boy with Down Syndrome and then THAT will stand out more than it should.
Mostly, I worry because I don't have an answer to fix a problem that keeps creeping up on us every day. I THINK I understand why Colin is acting this way but I can't just ask him and get an answer. It hurts my heart that I can't do more, I can't swoop in at school and fix the situation, I can't work on it myself during the day, and I can't give any more ideas because nothing has been working. Just hoping this phase starts to move forward in a more positive direction so we can find ourselves in a new phase...