Once a month like clockwork I receive a text from my son's school that they have performed their monthly lockdown drill. This text is to inform me that it is just a drill and I have no need to be concerned.
Except that I am. As this is just another reminder of how much my son's autism impacts every part of his life. I am scared shitless as I don't think he will be protected and safe during a lockdown procedure and it's by his own doing.
You see, you hear about teachers ushering their students into a closet or restroom. All sitting silently side by side. You know what my Kiddo is doing during this? Talking. Telling the teachers, staff and students that there is going to be a surprise. A combination of my son's autism and innocence makes him think they are playing a game of hide and seek or it's a surprise party and they have are going to have fun. He loud whispers to everyone around him to "BE QUIET!" while not picking up on the fact that he himself needs to be quiet in order to save his own life and others.
And I hate it. I hate that this is part of his educational experience. I hate that autism and his communication and intellectual issues might be yet another safety risk in his life and the lives of those around him. Kiddo makes a noise, he jeopardizes every person in the classroom closet with him. He won't mean to do so but it is the reality of the situation.
My heart broke when his teacher first told me about this. She didn't seem too fazed by it and from what I can tell, he's not the only kid in class that does this. No concept of the situation and no idea that this is a drill about saving his own skin. I was told it was a skill they would work on.
Part of me is angry that this even has to be in my kiddo's life. Like what the ever loving feck is this? Don't we have enough on our plates? Now I have this concern to worry about as well. That he will potentially give away a hiding spot to those looking to do harm to himself and others. I thought working on life skills meant learning how to live independently. Now they include trying to stay alive.
I hope like Hell that I will never even have to think this could be a reality but I can't help thinking about it when that text message announcement comes through my phone once a month.
I don't have a solution. I don't even have a suggestion. It's just another complication with autism involved and one that you never even think about it until it's in front of you.
Like duck and cover when I was a kid, to protect us from the bombs that were always threatening to fall. Ugh. :-(ReplyDelete
Our ASD children are in danger everyday in many different ways. Children with autism wandering and eloping is a huge issue. Many children with autism can't swim. They will wander and drown in nearby body of water. Remember Avonte Oquendo from Queens, NY? Children with autism have many serious health issues such as seizures, injuring themselves/others, gastro-intestinal problems, etc. Children with autism can be abused, molested or bullied and they won't be able to tell us what happened. Yes, living with autism is very, very dangerous, but most people don't think of autism as a serious disability. The main media protrays autism as just kids being quirky and smart. It's makes me mad that the media and the US government down plays how serious autism is. "It's all better diagnosis" according to the stupid CDC! Somehow our parents/grandparents generation didn't notice 1 in 50 children couldn't talk and injuried themselves! DUH!ReplyDelete
I get phone calls from my son's teacher about the fire drills and lock down drills too. My little boy has autism and sensory processing disorder. He has a hard time with the alarm. He usually ends up being out sorts for the rest of the day when there is a fire drill.ReplyDelete
The teacher called me one day when they had a lock down drill. My son was so afraid. The classroom doors were locked and blinds were closed. The teachers sat in a corner of the room huddled with the children. My little boy sat on the lap of one of the para educators.
He was shaking like a leaf and crying. "If...if...if you call my mama, she will come and get me, ifnyou call my mama she will get me, she come mama will come. If you call my mama she will come and get and I will be safe."
I am not sure if he understood that it was just a drill. It broke my heart that he was soooo afraid.
I think that part of his anxiety was he was scared that the fire alarm would go off at any time.
I think its important to "forewarn" our students who will have difficulties with this drill. As a special educator, I have had to work through this with several kiddos. We talk for a few days before we actually do it, and practice the small steps without the wait time. For students who have sensory issues, we can walk them out of the building before the actual fire drill, so they don't have to hear the loud bell and commotion. We don't need to practice the anxiety, just the exit routes. As for the quiet lockdown, that is just going to be difficult, but it can be practiced too. It sometimes helps to say, "put a bubble in your mouth" they can focus on holding that without breaking it, or giving them a specific job to do, such as holding the "attendance book" or listening for the all-clear signal, incase we miss it, or giving them a goal of beating the time that they can keep quiet from the last time..... every time we have a drill I have to giggle.... the first one we did, when we turned off the lights, we realized the emergency light was not working, so it was pitch black..... the kids were surprised and so was I. I said, "It's ok, I will find my laptop and open it for a little light, and as I walked to my desk to get it, I heard one of my students very quietly singing, "Scooby Dooby doo... where are you?" lol Hang in there, its only a drill this time, and for this, we are thankful. :)ReplyDelete