Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Run and Hit

Three or four times  a week for the past year and a half, Little A and I, or Little A and the Au Pair, have walked down the road and crossed the street to the therapy centre he attends.

A few months ago, a bus stop was built down our road, and this past week there have been roadworks next to it, making the road a little bit narrower, and therefore a little busier for the vehicles that pass it.

Little A has been repeatedly told that we must only "walk on the stripes," and while holding a grown-up's hand. Sometimes, though, we let him walk just ahead, to foster that little bit of independence.

Yesterday, there was an illegally parked car next to the pedestrian crossing, immediately to our left. As we stood on the pavement, I let go of Little A's hand to put his iPad, which he had been carrying, into my bag. I saw that a bus was loading with passengers and told Little A that "after the bus, it will be our turn."

Immediately upon seeing the bus go past, Little A bombed it into the road, just at the edge of the zebra crossing. Unfortunately, there was a car behind the bus, and the driver's view of Little A was blocked by the illegally parked car to our left.

I screamed, and it was as if time slowed down, just like in the movies. Little A swerved to his right, the car braked, and its front fender caught him on the left side of his ribcage, hurling him a few feet forward, where he landed on his left elbow.

I grabbed him off the street and dragged him back to the pavement, where I sat on the curb and wrapped him around me, checking his back for bruising, bumps, blood.

The driver of the car pulled his vehicle over, and the security guards at our building, as well as some other drivers waiting at the car park nearby, came running over.

My first remark was to the driver of the illegally parked car. "Why on earth were you there? That is a no parking or waiting zone!" I didn't hear his reply, as I switched my attention back to my shell-shocked son, who wailed very quickly about his hurt elbow, and then went nearly catatonic against my shoulder.

When Emergency Services arrived a few minutes later, I tried to set Little A down on the pavement to show them what happened. My little boy's knees immediately buckled under him, and one of our building guards scooped him up and handed him back to me.

The driver of the car that hit Little A was from a company that worked at a building down the road. He and the other guards and witnesses waited for the police while the Emergency Services car drove Little A and myself to the hospital. I managed a quick call to Little A's therapist on the way, explaining that we wouldn't be attending his session today and why.

Upon admission, Little A was quiet, and likely in shock as I spoke to Big A on the phone and told him quickly what had happened. When the intake staff tried to take his pulse and temperature though, Little A quickly gained enough energy to refuse and complain. We were given a bed in the pediatric emergency ward and seen by three doctors.

The first recommended an X-ray. I agreed to this, and we waited. The second doctor arrived with medicine for the scrape on Little A's elbow. By this time, he was regaining some of his energy. By the time the trauma doctor arrived, nearly an hour later, Little A was jumping on the chairs, running around the ward and asking me for corn flakes.

Miraculously, on removing all his clothes, there appeared to be no damage to Little A's body besides the bump on his elbow. I asked about internal bleeding, cracked ribs and the like, and was told just to keep watch, and given the all clear to take him home.

The company that owned the car which hit Little A sent another vehicle over with a lady who paid the hospital bill and a policeman who took my statement. Little A and I went through the other side of the hospital and walked carefully home.

On entering our flat, the first thing I saw was the backpack Little A had been wearing when he was hit by - or ran into - the car. It must have fallen off when he tumbled into the road, or when I picked him up, or maybe I just ripped it off him when I was checking his back. I picked it up with shaking arms. Perhaps it was this item that protected his ribcage from damage.

Little A carried on with the rest of his day as if nothing out of the ordinary had happened. I, on the other hand, felt like I needed a long sleep. It was as if all the energy in my system had just disappeared with the adrenalin. Apart from a quick, necessary, trip to the shop, I kept a close eye on Little A, expecting him to feel tired or hurt suddenly, or want to take a nap, at least. Amazingly, he was energetic  as usual.

My parents, who were hysterical on hearing what had happened, rushed over and couldn't believe that Little A was feeling so normal. Guardian angels protecting him, maybe, or just the amazing resilience of children.

While I was grateful that nothing worse had happened, I was also worried that Little A wouldn't have learnt his lesson. This morning though, he was careful to walk only while holding my hand, and asked to be carried across the road going home.

In the past three years, Little A has had three accidents that required hospital visits. One per year. They say these things happen in threes. Let's hope, then, that this was the last. 

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Midnight Wanderings

One of Little A's writing tasks, with his own answers. Bed is for Mommy.
I've written many a post on Little A's sleep, or the lack thereof, even before he was diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder. It took him ages to sleep through the night, and until recently he would still wake up at 4 or 5am a few nights a week.

When Little A wakes in the night he sometimes babbles, and if this goes on long or loudly enough I go in and quiet him down, whereupon he asks me to stay with him until he either falls asleep or the sun comes up and he is allowed to get down from bed. Other times he gets down from the bed himself (no easy feat in the dark from a top bunk!), shuffles into our room, tugs at my hand and takes me back to bed with him to keep him company. He knows he must stay in bed until there is daylight, and that he is not allowed to share ours as he shouldn't disturb his sleeping dad.

Upon moving into his own room in January, Little A's sleep patterns, by and large, improved. There is still the occasional early morning waking, more so since summer has begun and he has been less tired by the day's activities, with no school to keep him busy. But the sleep hours are longer, and for that I am grateful.

On the nights that Big A and I are out on a date, the Au Pair puts Little A to sleep. She knows the routine and manages very capably. As soon as he is out for the count, she retires for the night herself. Normally, we arrive home only 2 or 3 hours after bedtime, and usually all is quiet. I peek at Little A, and then get ready for bed.

One night recently, we stayed out later than usual, as a friend of BigA's was in town for the first time since she migrated to Canada with her family three years ago. When we got home, I saw that our bedroom light was switched on. This is unusual, as we turn out the lights when we go, and at bedtime only nightlamps remain illuminated. I checked Little A's room, and he was in his bed, but he was awake.

When he saw me, he reached for me and asked me to stay next to him as he fell back asleep, which only took a few minutes. The next morning, I asked the Au Pair if the light in our bedroom had been left on the night before. She told me it was off when she went to bed after putting Little A to sleep. He had obviously woken in the night, made his way to our room, turned on the light to be sure we were not there, and, finding the room empty, gone back to his own bed.

I still am very proud he did this all on his own. In the beginning my biggest trepidation about him sleeping in his own room was that he would wake in the night, turn the lights on, and play with his toys. He used to try this, but has since accepted my edict that unless the sun is out, he must stay in bed and at least try to go back to sleep. That he followed this even when seemingly at home all alone gives me much joy and hope that in other things as well he will learn to behave appropriately. Hooray for small successes.