Sunday, September 15, 2013

Injured Wrists and a Nonverbal Child- Autism mom looking for answers

There is one thing that is in the back of almost every parent's mind when they send their special needs child to school everyday. Those of us parents with nonverbal children are even more prone to worrying about this.

Is my child safe? Are the staff treating him/her well?

Tuesday afternoon when my son got off the bus I quickly realized the answer to both of those questions was no.

I'll start from the beginning.

It was a pretty regular day for me. The bus pulls up, and I go outside to get Beans. We go in the house, and I go to get him a drink, and snack.  His respite worker shows up while I am getting his drink.While I am in the kitchen getting his snack made she notices that he is wet, so off they go to the bathroom to get changed, and wash hands.

Then I hear yelling. She's calling for me, and it sounds urgent. I get to the bathroom, and she tells me there is something wrong with his wrist. I look down at his hands washing in the water, and I see it. It's a huge bruise with a big protruding knot on the underside of his wrist. I immediately know I must get him to the ER for x-rays. On the other wrist is red bruising abrasions. My mind is going 100 mph. I don't know what happened, but I know it's bad.
Right arm-Tuesday

Left Arm-Tuesday

Left Arm- Wednesday

Left Arm Tuesday

I manage to call my husband, and gather Bubby. Thankfully, I have another adult with me to drive. I was too shaken to even try. I call the school, and leave a message about what is happening. That way I have it on record that I notified them as soon as I saw the injuries.

We get to the ER, get the x-rays, and are told that it's just bruising. It happens all the time. He's an active child, ect., ect.. I'm told to take him to his regular doctor the next day for a follow up.

 I get him straight to the doctor the next morning, who is pretty upset when she sees his injuries. She does not think they're accidental. She also doesn't appreciate the ER's response to the situation.

On my way home from the doctor I get a call from the ER. Apparently, after the radiologist examined the x-ray a buckle fracture is detected. Now, we have something a little more substantial than just some severe bruising.  This is a very serious situation.

The next few days are a blur full of phone calls, and reports being made by me. I call the police, and dept. of children, and families, as well as a local advocacy center. They were really no help, offering less advice than I know on my own.  I also contacted our state's disability rights center.

The principal claimed to have a report from the nurse's station of a huge bruise, and injured wrist on Monday morning. I request a copy of it. Sure enough. Someone took him to the nurse's office with a wrist injury Monday morning, according to the nurse's log.  I wasn't notified in any form.  The communication book from the teacher makes no note of anything out of the the ordinary. The email exchange I had with her Tuesday made no mention of it. This is the same injury that when myself, and Bean's respite provider knew immediately needed to be x-rayed that they sent him back to class with.

I have a hard time believing that I didn't see those bruises Monday evening, or Tuesday morning. The nurse's log seems suspicious to me, and there are dates all over it that doesn't match, so I will leave that as unconfirmed for the time being. 

So, for now Beans is at home with me while they do their investigation. This nightmare is far from over. I am in a holding pattern, waiting for news. Not eating, or sleeping much. Just anxious sadness for my darling little boy who can't tell me what happened, but his body tells a story of pain and abuse.

I have so many feelings about what happened, and ideas as to what, and how. I have been so busy taking care of everything that I have not had time (and the emotional reserve) to tell this story. I will update more later on what I think the cause was, and what my next steps are if the school sweeps this under the rug.

Keep an eye on this space, as I may need your help autism community. I may need your support, and your voices to make sure we get answers for Beans. Firstly, I would like to give them a chance to do what's right before getting dramatic. But, if they don't I'm not giving in.

*Edit- After multiple x-rays the doctors confirm that the bones are healthy, and normal. They conclude that he had "a really bad sprain".


  1. Do you have an appointment with an orthopedic surgeon yet? I learned the hard way that most ERs are incapable of diagnosing fractures in young children, because fractures look different in growing bones. Ultrasound may be a more effective method to detect fractures in children, according to my son's orthopedic surgeon. It is possible that he re-injured the same place multiple times, and it may have gotten progressively worse over the course of 36 hours. When my son broke his elbow in gym class, the teacher told him to get up and try the monkey bars again, and he immediately re-injured the same elbow. Whenever something hurts, my son usually picks at the injury or bumps it again and makes it worse. Good luck getting answers - you're doing everything right!

  2. My grandson was non verbal. We also worried about being unable to confirm or deny issues. We put him on gluten & lactose free meals and after 7 weeks he began to speak.. He's now in school... You should try it because you've nothing to lose. Take a look at Eat-Smart Foods. Sue

    1. What does my son's diet have to do with his right to be safe at school? I find your comment extremely distasteful given the circumstance this entry is about.

  3. Karen @manicmippismumSeptember 16, 2013 at 4:40 AM

    First thing I would say is bruises take time to come out so please don't beat yourself up for not noticing on the Monday - if I made a not of every bruise my kids have had I would never do anything else.

    As for the rest, a fracture is pretty serious, and it does look from the bruising (and I am no expert) that forceful restraint could have been the cause. Poor Beans :-( And my heart aches for you not being able to ask him what happened.

    I hope fervently you can get some answers. And soon.

  4. I am so sorry :( You ARE doing the right thing no matter how heartbreaking it must be. Prayers that things are figured out and your son can feel safe again and you will feel safe letting him go back.

  5. I am profoundly sad to hear this story, as I too have a non-verbal child. Our sons and daughters are about as vulnerable as they come, and we work so hard to trust the outside world, only to be reminded again and again how little control we truly have.

    Please don't beat yourself up mama. You did the right thing. You documented, reported, sought medical attention, and are now keeping him in the safe haven of your arms.

    Love to you both.

  6. My Aspie got a buckle fracture as well as breaking another piece of bone in her hand on the last day of school last year. The school did call me, but she had no bruising and no swelling, so she stayed at school the rest of the day. She is verbal, but has a hard time telling us about her aches and pains, so I almost didn't take her in after school. I am glad that you got him in as fast as you did. Don't beat yourself up. As said above, bruises take time to show up, and kids tend to be incredibly resilient. Just keep doing what you are doing and hang in there. And shame on that school for their lack of action.

  7. You should home school him from now on if this is what they are going to do at school. This is serious to have happened. Seeing that he is non-verbal, he would have never been able to tell you. I am surprised that he did not cry alot.

  8. My worst fear is something like this happening to my nonverbal son. Sometimes, bruising can take a while to show and, if Beans is like my child, probably has a high tolerance to pain, too. I'm so very sorry for this awful incident and hope the investigation yields meaningful information that will help you go forward to find ways to keep your child safe and well cared for while he is in school.

  9. I will help in any way I can. This is so devastating and terrifying that this stuff happens. As a mama of a non verbal child with a high pain tolerance...I am constantly terrified of this.

  10. This was one of my worst fears when my son was non-verbal, he can now speak and tell me what goes on at school and thankfully he goes to an amazing school, I'm so sorry this happened to your precious child. NEVER give up, this must be taken care of and whoever did this to your child must be held responsible for their careless actions.

  11. Let me know if you would like to talk about this on Autism Live

  12. Does the school bus have a video camera? Someone who saw should have called you! I can't imagine.
    I am here to support you in whatever way I can and I hope you all heal well in time.

  13. So disturbing! Another parent of a nonverbal kid here...and it's most definitely my worst fear! Well, even worse would be if the damage DIDN'T leave a mark because we would never, ever know. But you do now and you are going to take care of business!

    I'll definitely be checking back in. I'm sorry it happened, so sorry - but you now have what you need to protect him (and others) from the monster that did this.

  14. M heart and tears go out to you. We are having similar problems. Ice caught the aides yelling at students and Liam has come home twice with bruising. I contact the school and they said it was under his shirt so they couldn't do anything about it. Including telling me. We need to have more laws in place to help children who can't speak for themselves. Also making sure that aides in the classroom have proper training. Our aides have absolutely no training whatsoever.

  15. Thanks everyone for your comments! I am sorry that I haven't gotten around to replying, and that I have to do it via on mass reply, but as you can imagine, I have been super busy.

    To answer a couple questions real quick:
    No, there aren't any cameras.
    Yes, we have had a few appts with an orthopedic doc. We still have at least one more to keep an eye on his wrist to be sure it's healing.

    Also, I have written lots of updates, so be sure to check my main page if you haven't done so in awhile.

    Thank you all for your support!

  16. "before" getting dramatic ?


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