The other evening when Ian got home from his day placement, he got out of the taxi with a frown on his face. “Oo oo oo,” he said as he approached me, rubbing his right arm. That’s his noise for sore. Oo oo oo. And a frown.
I immediately checked under the sleeve of his t-shirt. There was a redness on his upper arm, and when I ran the back of my finger down his skin, I could feel the beginnings of a lump.
This had just happened. Not earlier in the day; the bruise would have surfaced by the time he got home. No. This had just happened. In the taxi.
I gently rubbed Arnica on Ian’s arm and gave him some juice to drink. After that, he was happy to rest up in bed and play on his iPad. It was only later, at bathtime, that I looked at his arm again. Sure enough, there they were, three distinct yellow bruises, one below the other.
He had either been grabbed roughly, or – more likely, given the lump under the skin which accompanied the bottom bruise – he had been knuckle-punched. Three times.
More Arnica and a kiss to make it better, my heart squeezed at my sweet, precious, vulnerable child, and the unnecessary pain he had endured. Time for sleep now … and a deep sigh from me at the continuous unanswerables which get thrown up when you have a child with special needs.
The next morning, I wrote to Ian’s day placement to inform them, and when the morning taxi arrived, I showed the driver Ian’s arm. Mummy wolf was on the case.
The bruises were now ripe circles on his skin.
And we discussed the problem of having special needs with special needs together on the back seat, behind the driver’s back.
Mummy wolf growled, and promises were made for greater attention and a possible change in the seating arrangement.
But my blood still ran cold.
Ian doesn’t complain. He doesn’t cry out. He only said his “Oo oo oo” because I was there to meet him.
How open to abuse can one person be?
How can a person with special needs and a compromised sense of responsibility be made to understand that his actions are not appropriate, and that if he doesn’t like the behaviour of someone else, he cannot just lash out, when – or because – the person he’s lashing out at gives no reaction?
The middle bruise has faded quickly, but the others took their time, fading through the bruise colour-spectrum until they were finally gone.
But there is a bruise in my heart and a worry in my head.