I got the call after lunch, having only just dropped his twin siblings back at school following a local paediatric review. I had gone straight on to our local pharmacy to collect prescriptions. It was't an unusual morning, we currently average three appointments a week in what has become quite an exhausting and relentless cycle.
It was one of those calls which makes the world around you slip away - you struggle to hear properly once the word "ambulance" is mentioned and your imagination cranks into overdrive. He was apparently ok, and there was no huge need for concern but my mind was spinning as I got over to his school as quickly as possible.
I can't fault the school's care of him, fearing a spinal injury they had taken every precaution and step to protect him. I was told he had slapped the other (older) child first, and my immediate reaction was the assumption that this was an over-the-top response to the (not uncommon) aggravation Harry had demonstrated towards the other boy. But in making this false step I let me son down, falling into the trap of believing difficulties he struggles with, that WE struggle with can justify an attack of this kind.
H has Autism and ADHD. He can be excruciatingly frustrating, irritating and annoying. But he still deserves the same understanding and response any other child his age would receive! And just because he finds explaining his version of events challenging, because he often latches on to minute (and sometimes irrelevant) detail thus missing the "main event", and because those trying to defend their own actions are often more vocal and more socially accepted it does NOT mean they are always right. Or that this was an unfortunate event which H could have avoided.
I feel awful. Totally sick that my FIRST thought (after ascertaining that he was ok I might add) was that his behaviour might somehow be to blame and thus excuse the actions of the other boy. In those first few minutes I let him down badly.
To add context, I should explain that H's behaviour has been hugely challenging recently at home, and often at school. We are often on the defensive, wondering where and when the next challenge will come from. It is exhausting - and really difficult to approach each episode with an open mind, but this is just further evidence of how easy it is to carry assumptions and prejudice about those with additional needs.
After having the opportunity to spend time with H this afternoon and try and tease out what happened, it was actually whilst discussing his cat that clarity came.
Of course it was.... direct questions never work and I should have realised oblique references might make more progress...It transpires he was playing a game with his friends and the other child first approached HIM, making provocative statements. A couple of minutes later he came back - with reinforcements who surrounded H and pinned him against a tree. Now it doesn't take much to realise this is likely to be a MASSIVE trigger for anyone with Autism.
So he slapped the boy.
Who went ballistic.....
And yet - and YET the focus is on explaining how my son could have triggered this. A trap I too fell into. And yet it's almost irrelevant what the triggers were, an attack that necessitated calling an Ambulance is Assault.
And THAT should be the focus of any investigation.