That Time a Kid Tried to eat Someone’s Leg
From the outside that’s all that was heard.
The client was now inside after slamming the door shut, with just 1 worker when policy requires 2 or more with this client! A powerful 120-odd-kilogram 20-something-year-old that headbutts and knees brick walls for fun, and can pull a back flip a few feet from the trampoline, is now inside with the new worker!!!
To set the scene,
I was working for people who live with extreme disabilities, and this particular client was in a secure building. This place was literally like the secure section of a prison.
Previously, he was fed through a hole in the door like someone in solitary. The story goes that they would come in and clean the walls every so many days because he would smear faeces and just make general mess in there. He was completely no contact. On lock down. 24/7, with yard time.
In the company I worked for there was a dedicated team member who had worked with him, stayed with him and cared for him. Dedication like that lead to policies that set the client free. Finally he was able to get out of the house, but as it was high risk there were restraint (physical intervention / holding) policies in place. If we had to stop him, we were legally able to take him to the ground.
At one point there was even a man hunt for him! He was hiking and got away from the workers, becoming lost in the hinterland overnight. (He wandered back completely fine the next day, though government ministers apparently came to help search!)
Back to the building, as You walk in the front door there are large rooms covered with windows to the right and brick walls for another unit to the left. There is also a large outdoor area with high fencing, splattered with some trees and a large trampoline in pride of place. Through the front door there is an office on the right, some rooms to the left and a hallway into a living room type space with a big bulky locked door into a kitchen (which has ANOTHER big secure door). Behind the kitchen was where the client lived. He had his own living room with a tv (safely behind a ton of perspex), his own toilet block with showers, and his room (where he was locked down every night). Policy demanded no less than 2 workers for the kitchen door to even be opened, and no less than 3 workers if the client was to go out in public. So each morning the workers would make his breakfast, shower him and then go about the day.
This day just happened to be family visit day…
When his parents arrived they were quick to tell their story to the new worker, and say hello to their son. As this building was quite old, a new facility was being made in the same grounds, and today was the day they wanted to see it. Unfortunately, their son wasn’t on board with the plan.
I could just tell he wasn’t comfortable, at all, with the entire situation. As we all walked to the back door (his 2 parents, 2 other workers, myself and the client) the group got split. The workers and the parents walked straight out the door deep in conversation, while the client walked slowly. The SECOND everyone (except me!) was outside the client rushed up, slammed the door closed and walked back to the kitchen area.
After being frozen in thought for a second I followed him back, figuring the other workers had a key. The client was the priority, I had to ensure he was alright. Being non-verbal, he had a hand sign to communicate (unfortunately only one though). Fortunately, in the short time I had worked with him I passed a few of his tests ( and boy, did he have a test for new workers! 😐 ). On top of that I felt I could read his moods reliably enough. He tapped me on the shoulder, asking if everything was alright. I could SEE that he was stressed and didn’t want to go outside, so I stayed with him for a little while trying to help him calm himself. ↓
When I eventually got to the door and let the other people in, they basically said they were in a rush and tried dragging (almost physically) the client outside. On top of that, because we were outside… each of them was wearing sunglasses. A quick google suggests some autistic people need sunglasses for light sensitivity, so just imagine what it would be like having the glare from 8 eyes reflecting into your sensitive eyes…
Pretty quickly arms were flying everywhere!
First the mother, he rushed her and clawed at her glasses, causing them to fall to the ground AND.
His father moves over, trying to protect his wife, getting his own glasses reefed off, and a little bit of red as the scratch next to his eye begins to bleed.
Now one of the workers has joined the fray, automatically putting himself in the line of fire. So his glasses go flying next. This is enough to make him step back, he’s done…
Leaving one more worker, the client, and myself…
The other worker (if I remember correctly) gets hands on the client… and is instantly given a one way ticket to his back on the asphalt. If this was a chess game, it is now the client’s move. He holds on to the worker’s right leg with all his might. “Get him off me, Get him fuckin’ off me!!!” the worker screams as he raises his left leg, loading up to kick this client fair in the face. Which is happening because the client currently has his mouth WIIIDE open, ready to have some fresh calf for lunch!!!
Diving down next to them, I’m already grabbing the clients forehead in an attempt to save the leg from his drooling chompers. Because I don’t want either him (or myself now) to be kicked, I use my left elbow to make almost a frame, protecting us from any potential kick if this worker continues to lose his mind. (image)
Eventually I manage to get the client to stop. He just stands up as if nothing happened and goes on about his day. The worker however. He was bright red, fuming and clearly plotting out his revenge.
We load the client into the bus, open the gates, and plan to remove him from the bus and back into his cell.
Suddenly I’m asked if I want to leave, and then told to leave early.
It’s obvious that these two want to do something to the client,
and that makes me uncomfortable.
Being younger I hate to admit it but I left, after milling around a while and feeling concerned.
And fortunately, one of those workers had some morals and integrity.
Here are my quick takes from the entire ordeal
(let me know your thoughts in the comments!)
– Not reacting to this client’s test earnt me some respect.
– Connecting before trying to direct him made him listen to me.
– Not overreacting made it possible to remain calm, in some pretty extreme situations.
– Listening to the human inside, not the behaviours or situations, set me up for success early.
– Being aware made;
– Being prepared possible, and allowed me to;
– Be ready for anything. Making reactions smarter & faster.
The differences in our approaches are shown waaay back in this section.
This visit was more about the parents than the child.
While one group is outside freaking out, the other is inside actively working on reassurance.
Attempting to kick this boy in the face, in front of his parents takes a certain kind of …stupid.
We need to create SECURE ATTACHMENTS with our children, and all of the people in our lives!
Showing respect, safety, concern and care for everyone in our lives.
On top of that children are some form of alien,
they seem to feel sense and taste our fears. (Stress too!)
New teacher? Unsure about discipline? Unsure you’re being lied to?
If you come in with doubts, children will usually play on those doubts.
And they will continue to win until you get your poker face on, subtly controlling Your Life.
Couple these with being unflappable, immovable, in control of yourself (Your smiles, fears and jeers) and you will be an unstoppable relationship monster!
Hopefully You haven’t got face-raking calf-munching semi-pro-body-builders to contend with,
but by using that list as a set of personal traits, you could turn yourself (or your partner) into a killer role model to your family!
Good Luck in whatever it is you’re dealing with,
You Got This! 🙂