January 22, 2021

Yesterday, a lot like a lot of Dar’s days lately in this pandemic-stricken winter when Dar can leave the house for no more than maybe an hour. Wifey and I are working for a living, we don’t have time to take Dar on five-hour excursions, and even if we did, we’re supposed to be sheltering in place. But five-hour excursions, also called school days, were Dar’s pre-pandemic life. He is frustrated. He is regressing. He is screaming. A LOT.

Dar’s saving grace throughout this pandemic has always his three-hour sessions with his ABA therapist. But in the last few weeks he just screams through those.

People notice this. Strangers come to the door. I find it hard to put on headphones and music and just tune him out. Imagine camping next to the sound of a whining animal with its foot caught in a trap. Do you really think you could ignore that?

It’s brutal.

Let’s not get into other proximate causes. Sometimes Dar’s frustrated that he didn’t get something he asked for. But sometimes, even half the times, he melts down for no reason at all.

No one lives like this. Not like him, not like us.

Normally I hang out with Dar after I give him a sleeping pill,¬†from roughly 7 to 8:30, so that he falls asleep without screaming. If it’s Thursday and I’m doing online poker with friends, and I usually am, then I bring my laptop into the only room in the house where Dar is willing to sleep. Yesterday, after so many hours of screaming, I gave myself a break, and played poker in another room. I also gambled that Dar wouldn’t scream in the pre-sleep hour.

At dinner, around 6:30, I told Dar’s brother that I didn’t expect more screams before Dar’s bedtime because “when I go to a rock concert and I’m screaming for three hours, I don’t scream on the BART ride home.” At some point, my lungs are exhausted, right? Brilliant analogy. Uh, no, it isn’t. But in this case, it worked.