Saturday, March 26, 2011

From the Wolf Den: Fearful

It only took about five seconds of the Hour of Power on Thursday morning to discover what the trouble was.

Wolf is terrified to leave CHYC; and he's willing to fight like hell.

Not that I blame him, mind you. For three years his world has been a self-contained unit of careful supervision for everything from handing out toothpaste to telling him, verbatim, what he should say to someone else in certain situations. While staff makes every effort to assist students in making the transition, for some kids, this is the most difficult move they will ever make. Wolf, it appears, is one of these.

Fear does interesting things to people. Fight or flight. Stay or go. Walk away or punch the other guy in the nose.

Illustrated in a very Alaskan way, it's sort of like meeting up with a large, brown bear while hiking. We're told how to handle various outdoor scenarios in which bears figure; from a distance, up close, with kids, yada yada. It's drilled into our brains, but unfortunately, it's not always drilled into our body. The biggie safety tip, after making noise and hiking in groups of five or more (I prefer ten or twenty slower people than me, personally) is this: Don't Run.

Gotcha. I promise I won't run away from a thousand-pound, stinking, potentially new-mother-bear who finds me tragically in the wrong place at the wrong time. Try telling that to my Fight or Flight reflex. Or my knees. But that's the advice, and it's the correct advice, and if ever in that situation, it will take not to run as fast as my legs can or cannot carry me. And I don't have Asperger Syndrome.

Wolf listens to his body most of the time. He can't help it; the signals coming from one side of his endorphin-fueled brain sending signals to his arms and legs and blushing face are stronger than the signals from the other side of his brain saying "Whoa, now, mister, let's just think about the options here before we lay into this dude and you get in major trouble."

While I have the ability during a crisis to (try, anyway) to think rationally and make a decision based upon the environment and others in it (bears included), Wolf feels something happening and lets his body decide for him.

He's scared he'll get beaten up. He's scared other kids will make fun of him. He's scared no one will understand. So he'll fight back. Hard.

All Yukon and I could do on Thursday morning was repeat, over and over and over again, "We're here. We'll help. We love you."

By the end of the Hour, things had calmed down. Yukon talked with Wolf last night and reviewed some of the things he could do to let his brain catch up with the arms and legs.

This could be the longest road, yet.


Natalie said...

Sigh...bears. He's like a knight on a quest now. That much sweeter when he comes out OK on the other side.

Marge said...

It's so hard for me to imagine how a situation that makes me act one way, may make one of my kids act in a totally different way, just because of their brain damage from FASD. I would imagine the same is true with Aspergers or Autism. But the truth is that they will react differently, and it's up to us to try to figure out how they will react. I admire the way you seem to read Wolf. I wish I could have read my daughter as well twenty years ago as I do now! But then again, it probably wouldn't have made any different!