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Secret TA: Back with a Bite!

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Bite Marks: 1 

Stress Level: 6 

Holiday Countdown6 weeks and 3 days  

Well that Half Term break came to an end with a crash, bang and wallop! Traffic is a nightmare and where has the sun gone! These kids, that have been cooped up in the rain for a week, seem to have saved up all their energy and have come back to school as little bundles of energetic joy.  Joy that bites and leaves an unnatural amount of saliva, like a supernatural snail with legs! 

This bite this week was a weird one, because it appeared with no warning, no fanfare and once it was done it was forgotten (not by me, obviously) by the precious little creature.  Usually there are some signals that things are about to escalate but it was almost like they had realised too late that they’d missed something on their mental ‘To Do’ list so just slotted it in…  For a couple of seconds, I thought I’d imagined it. 

It’s important not to react, which is obviously difficult, because there may be something going on that has triggered it. So, I just carried on doing the activity we were doing together – a really cool throwback to the 90’s using the Spirograph to make geometric patterns. 

“What was that all about?” I kept my tone neutral 

As I looked to my left, I was getting puppy dog eyes.  As the child is non-verbal, I didn’t expect an answer. But the reaction let me know that there was a response at least. 

I stopped what I was doing and did my best to mimic the facial expression.  We have a set of picture cards, so I took the picture of the laminated “sad face” and put it in front of me. 

“I’m sad because that bite hurt me.  Can you show me your picture? 

Same card. 

Did I do something to make you sad?” 

There was a lot of fidgeting happening now, so I edged the Spirograph to the other side of the table and handed the crayon over. Instead of drawing, a little finger traced around the angry red mark and the indentations of tiny teeth.  I was dying to rub the bite, but I wanted to try to find a trigger or a hint of what was going on. 

How did you feel about coming to school today? 

Eye contact. 

After a lot more back and forth like this I worked out that it was sad face since dinner time at home last night. 

We didn’t get much further than that and we carried on until Mum came for collection about an hour or so later. 

“We’ve had a sad day today.  Quick question, how was dinner time at home last night?”  

Mum pondered, but said that everything was normal, usual appetite and afterwards finished off the sweets from Halloween Trick or Treating. 

Long story short, it was toothache! 

It can be so easy to write off events like this as general traits of autism and that’s why it’s so important to remember that not having the words to express themselves is their reality.  That must be horrid. 

Don’t get me wrong, this bite mark is horrid! 

Mum went off with her carnivorous little cherub, I ran to find some Savlon (it’s not available in School but I’ve learned to have my own supply readily on hand).  I filled in my incident form and handed it in.  At this point I think my incident file is encyclopaedia sized. 

The rest of the day was uneventful, on my way to the car I heard, “Sir! Sir!” 

Mum had come back to school, her little one is only in for part of the day and wasn’t due back until tomorrow, so I was a bit nervous. 

“I never would have worked that out and I feel so guilty, and grateful at the same time.” 

“Ah, you mustn’t feel that way.  Remember, we are together for just a part of the day, without siblings and a house to run – life has a habit of distracting us.” 

“I don’t know what we’d do without you!” 

I’ve been bitten, thanked, cried and now I can’t wait to get bitten again.  Welcome to School Life! 

Next: Super Stressed!

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