Autism Watch: 2007

Posts Tagged ‘anger

Yesterday was BB’s six month dental exam and cleaning. I’m not sure who dreads them more — him or me? Hmmm, me. Yes, definitely me. I have to drive him down there, almost 1.5 hours in one direction, then all the way home in awful tourist and end of the work day traffic.

If you’ve been reading my blog for a while, you know dentist appointments and BB haven’t always gotten along. So what changed? Finding a new dentist. It may be work, it may take a long time, you may have to pay a little out-of-pocket by going out-of-network on your insurance plan, or you may have to drive a long time, but it’s worth it.

BB used to be afraid of the dentist. Hated it. Now? “When are we leaving, Mom?”

However, it’s still not always good. For some reason, he gets anxious about it and he’s kind of a boogar by the time we get there. You know, the kind of boogar where the other parents in the waiting room look up from their magazines and try to surreptitiously check out what the mouthy kid looks like or if the mom looks abashed. (If you looked, yes, I was abashed. Very much so.) The mouthy kid looked cute, comfy with his bandanna around his neck (should he need to become incognito, you know) and bored, playing with the stress ball in his hand.

It continues in the dentist’s chair. I answer questions about his dental history and habits while he’s being worked on, and he starts to squirm. More and more, in irritation at my responses. Finally, when he gets a clear chance to talk, “Mom, you don’t know what you’re talking about. You’re not in my mouth. Let me tell her.”

Sigh.

My sweet boy disappeared halfway through the drive to the dentist and only started to re-appear about two hours ago. It only got worse from there, though he did cooperate for the rest of the exam, the cleaning (minus the fluoride, thank you very much) and the x-rays. By the time we were 30 minutes from home, he wanted a new family, he didn’t like me and I was NOT his mom anymore.

Who knew?

It was a long night, made worse by the fact that I’d postponed an appointment to the podiatrist for my plantar fasciitis and my foot was killing me. The husband made dinner, and I sat with ice on my foot. Exhausted. Totally drained from his behavior and the rush-rush-rush of the entire day.

Today, he didn’t get better until I finally sat him down and told him he could not yell at me anymore. I sat there, with him unhappy at my presence, explaining why I wasn’t going to allow him to yell at me, or anyone else, anymore. And as for the constant complaining? Three per day. Period. No more. You complain a fourth time and the computer gets taken away. Same consequence if I have to remind you more than once not to yell at me.

I realize it’s an issue of control. He wants his room to look a certain way so when I move the water bottles or turn the nightlight off, I’m changing the way he wants it. When I tell him it’s school at 10am today instead of 10:30am, he doesn’t have control and it’s a change. I get it, really, but that doesn’t make it okay. It’s not an excuse to yell and be mean. So we talked about it, and beginning next week, after we’ve had a couple of uninterrupted days to reinforce the new rules, we’re starting a behavior program that I hope will address his anger and control issues.

I have hope. I just know it won’t be easy. He’s smart and he recognizes that he’s being mean…it’s just after the fact. Tonight, he stuck a note on the door saying he was sorry. Cute, but not enough. It did, however, open the door for him acknowledging that he needs to find some better ways to cope. He actually googled it, he said. I believe it, google is a big tool for him, and he uses it as a springboard for further research and study. If he’s interested, get out of the way, he will do it thoroughly.

Tomorrow we have a homeschool event…same place that “The Issue” happened a few weeks ago. I told him we’d ignore her and it wouldn’t change anything. He won’t let me sit next to him in the class, so maybe he’ll sit in back with me. Not sure. I want him to learn from it, but not be afraid or let her intimidate him. He doesn’t need to stop asking questions, he just needs to be mindful of how he does it. If he does it wrong, I will address it, as always. We’ll see how it goes. If nothing else, I’m super-proud of him that he’s not letting her possible attendance influence him going again. Way to go, BB.

 

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First, despite being down a child due to the one still living out-of-state for college, it was an excellent Christmas.

I had worries — what happens if it gets too loud, too crazy, he doesn’t get the cellphone he’s been asking for, the list goes on. We had realities — he needed time to decompress, one part of his favorite gift had a minor break the night of Christmas (when he insisted that this kit go with us to see family, despite us telling him not to take it), he got over the cellphone even though his cousin the same age got one (despite us telling him ten-year-olds don’t need cellphones), he had meltdowns during both the decoration of the gingerbread house and the gingerbread cookies (maybe the ginger smell gets to him?) and he cried more than once that his oldest sister wasn’t with us. But, he made it through and nothing was that serious.

The good things, the things that went above and beyond ‘normal’ Christmas fun, negated the problems. He spent hours playing tag in the dark with his cousins on Christmas night, he played basketball with them, without a problem, and when his sister spent the night (without anyone really inviting him), he came home without a problem or even a mention. But the biggest deal? The thing that made this Christmas absolutely most amazing? SNOW.

We’d been hearing for days that it would snow late Christmas night. A lot of people said that it wouldn’t really happen, it’d be a sprinkling to not get excited about, and how ridiculous it was to want it to snow. Still, we wanted it to snow and hoped the weatherman would be right. Before we moved from the west coast, we had to drive an hour or so to get to the snow, and we’d get to the beautiful mountains only to see that every other family within three hours was there right along with us. In your square foot of clean white untrodden snow, you could play but if you had to use a restroom, get your car out of the rut in the snowbank or want to avoid ambulances because too many people decided fast-food lunch trays were credible, safe sledding devices, you were out of luck. We went to bed close to midnight, and I woke every hour to see if it was snowing. Around 4:30, we’d gotten a couple of inches, so I woke BB up as promised. He wouldn’t go past the front porch — I think the sheer cold caught him off-guard. I took a few pictures and went back to bed. I was woken up around 8am with a loud HECK YEAH from dh. Snow, and not just a little. Inches and inches, and it was still falling. We woke up BB and our older son (dd was still at her cousin’s) and took pictures at the dogs’ first foray in the snow. Hilarious. They loved it, and didn’t want to come back in. We bundled BB up as much as he’d let us and he ran out to jump into the snow. Dad went to get snow gear out of storage at the in-laws and it was four hours before BB would come inside; even then, it was only to get some lunch. Another couple of hours of snow play followed, where we built three full-size snow forts and a slide, had numerous snowball wars, and built a life-sized snowman, complete with carrot nose. He then pooped-out, made a bed in front of the fireplace, pulled out his favorite gift (the magic kit) and put on Despicable Me. The snow’s still around, three days later, but he has no interest in going back out. He just wanted to be sure we put a scoop of snow in the freezer to save as evidence of our awesome day. Works for me, a lot of good memories from that one day.

We’re noticing that the “I must be in charge” trait is coming out really heavily. It’s hard to deal with some days. I can say “Please wait five minutes until I get <xxx> done, and then I’ll make your snack,” and he barrels on about the snack, as though I’ve not even spoken. “Mom, want to hear a joke?” “Sure! Let me finish dressing and I’ll be right out.” But he has other ideas, he’s telling me through the door. “Can I read this story to you?” “Yes, as soon as I’m off the phone.” As fast as I can finish my sentence, he’s reading the story to me, like he never heard me. I can have conversation after conversation with him about how friendships/discussions are two-way. One talks, then the other talks. One chooses the activity, then the next chooses the activity. And I daily teach him that he can’t tell me when I can get up and get a drink, when I can start dinner, or what I’m putting on the TV. Yet we go on and on with him insisting he’s in charge, having such a hard time dealing with the fact that the world doesn’t operate on his plans, and that other people have wants and needs and their own minds. Such a test of my patience, though he’s not being malicious. I can’t be mad when he often just wants to sit with me, cuddle with me, or read with me. It’s just something we need to work on, but if only there was a therapy or something available that a) worked, and b) was available to people with jobs and other kids to provide for as well.

Come the new year, aka the closest we’ll get to normalcy, we’re going to start working with the RDI program. I’ve got a couple of excellent other books to read as well, including “Lost at School,” and I hope to put some of what I learn to use, adding to my homegrown degree in Autism. (That should probably come before my web/blog design certification studies and photography and Photoshop classes. Oh, and the jewelry I need to get to the consignment store.)

Today, we ventured out of our snow-covered city and visited a local zoo. What a blast! BB was upset at first, said he didn’t want to be there (he’d forgotten his gum at home and that constituted enough reason for him to hate the outing) and that he’d rather be at the movies. (However, the movies wouldn’t work as the only one they wanted to see showed too late this evening to make the trek home during this holiday-traffic week that time of night.) He got over his issues soon enough though, and we had a great time. As always, the second he got there, he was hungry. And thirsty. And hungry again an hour later. I almost spend more on food when we got anywhere than I do on tickets! Tomorrow is going to be a ‘stay at home’ day, where he gets to decompress before family visits on New Year’s Eve, and any partying we may do that evening. I think we’ll make cookies, and I mean we loosely — we’ll start, and I’ll end up finishing them beyond the first tray.

Happy New Year’s to all!

Sometimes, BB’s moods can literally change as fast as you can flick a switch..minus the switch. Things seem good, he seems compliant, and you’re able to relax. Then WHAM, it hits. The mood shift.

Not sure what brought it on tonight. He’d been testy all afternoon, easily riled but in a way that he’d just respond like “yeah, so, whatever.” A mean kind of sarcasm, intended to show his complete and utter disrespect and disregard for anyone else. His first day of school was today, but there were no problems there. We got home, and he told me about three things that made him happy. He showed me his homework, and I left to run and get yet another batch of school supplies. (But, luckily, none for his class! Not sure if she just hasn’t sent the list home yet, or there isn’t any. Dare I hope?) I came home, he was playing with the boy around the corner. You know, Boy A from The Day from Hell a couple of weeks ago. (Boy A is the good boy in the story.) He supposedly accidentally ran into a smaller neighbor child on his bike, admitted it, and I made him go apologize. He said “sorry,” and stalked off, arms folded, head down. On one hand, it was a huge step, something he wouldn’t normally do. On the other hand, we’ve got a ways to go. He even was invited to go to the park with another neighbor girl from his class. Yay!

Fast forward until he returns inside and I have to make him eat dinner. It was a you push, I push (not literally, just figuratively) type of dinner, where he’d eat a bite, wander, I’d make him return, he’d have another bite. And it all went downhill from there. I had to make him get in the shower, help him wash, and while he was in there, took away his Nintendo DS and assortment of related gadgets, hide his TV remote, and let him know there will be no playing outside after school tomorrow. I hate taking that away, but the “Shut your BIG.FAT.MOUTH” put me over the edge. He was made to go straight to bed after teethbrushing, without a story or anything. It’s been 45 minutes, and he’s still not called me out to say sorry, which is unusual. He seems so bent on staying mad. No matter what I did, he said “Fine, whatever. Shut up.”

Dad’s still in Pennsylvania, beautiful but in the middle of nowhere. Our ability to talk for any period of time is minimized by his work schedule and three-hour time zone difference. I’m up at 5am, but he’s already been working a couple of hours by that point. We tried to talk tonight — I went on a serious rant after I heard the latest form of ‘no new taxes,’ or as I call it, California’s stealing of my money. (Don’t we normally have to apply for loans? Why can they just take an ‘interest-free loan’ out of our paychecks, on top of increased yearly taxes, higher car registration rates, and everything else costing more. How do people live?? I digress. Let’s just say it’s definitely motivated us to be sure our house is up for sale at the proper time so we can get the heck out. I can’t do it here anymore.) Dh gave me lists of lists to write down, but when BB started acting up, it all went out of my head. I might remember when I have a chance to breathe, which at this rate will probably be on Saturday.

I don’t mind being single mom. I stay up later, I have my laptop out without fear of noisy keys, I cook when we want it, and I’m capable of doing just about all I need to do. (Okay, so I had to ask dd’s bf to take out my trash cans. But, that’s not my fault our RV is in the way, right?) I miss dh, but I was a single mom of two kids when we met, and I lost my mom young.  I’ve been independent for a long time. Sadly, I really miss the reinforcement right now. I am exhausted. 5am comes early, and with school dropoff/pickup, chores, grocery shopping, Costco trips, numerous Target trips, getting crickets and goldfish for the animals, cleaning out the turtle tank, signing the bajillion school forms, and then BB…I hate to whine, but I’m tired. I took a melatonin tonight, hoping I can sleep all the way through. Of course, that depends on how well BB sleeps. One nightmare or sleepwalking event will kill it, but I can hope.

Tomorrow night we have BB’s therapy, and I am hoping to let them know the issues we’re seeing and see what help we can get. I know he doesn’t want to be a boogar, but when he seems so unfazed by his affect on others, I have to look to see what we can do to stop that. He’s such a doll, so loving and so smart, but when he’s telling you to shut your mouth, over and over, and looks at you so emotionless, it’s hard to remember the rest.

I do have respite on Wednesday night, and my friend and I are heading out to see Julie/Julia. I can’t wait! Not only does it just look cute and I love Meryl Streep, but it’s about a blogger! Who here can’t relate??

Well, if it’s just a ‘stinking’ basketball, why are you so bent on taking it to school? Huh? HUH?

One sentence into my blog and I’ve already digressed. Then again, that’s life with autism around, isn’t it? Things are fine one second, and the next, they’re not.

This morning, things seemed to start out fine. Ds came in around 7am, after a long discussion last night that I really do mean that he needs to stay in bed until then. One hurdle overcome. The morning continues, with normal breakfast and a round of Animal Crossing with his big brother. Then the time comes to brush teeth. OKAY, MOM. Imagine his teeth grinding together through the “okay” portion of that two-word sentence, then very pronounced disgust when saying “mom.” And so it begins.

Finally, he’s downstairs ready to leave. His older sister was taking him today, and he took it upon himself to invite a neighbor to ride with us. Fine, as long as you behave and don’t give dd a hard time. “DON’T SAY THAT TO ME, MOM.” This time, no teeth grinding here, he just outright yells. Somehow it’s okay for him to yell like that in front of his friend, but it’s not okay for me to correct him. Weird logic. Dd pulls her truck around front, but by then, ds is convinced he’s taking the basketball to school. No, not gonna happen, dude. Back and forth with him about why not: you’ll lose it or it’ll get stolen, it’ll be a distraction, how are you going to carry it, it’s against the rules, and so on. He kicks at me (with a brand new shoe, no less) and then tells me he doesn’t care if he scuffs his new shoes. Finally, he takes the backpack from me, flings it at me, I dodge, he mopes to the truck. For me, it ended there…until school is over and I pick him up…but dd still had to take him. He threw a belt at her, sat and cried hysterically in the truck, then yelled at her repeatedly to leave him alone once they were in the gates. So leave him alone, she did. Came home, and so far, no call from the school. I’m not holding my breath though. That kind of anger and aggression usually means some issues throughout the day. His teacher and aide is wonderful in helping with him, but carryover is bound to happen in one form or another. Such is another day, right?

Did you just hear that high-pitched scream? The kind that makes you wish you were only hearing nails on a chalkboard? The kind that makes dogs howl and cower under a bed? The kind that you think “wow, my kid’s tantrums don’t look so bad now.” That’s what just occurred here. We haven’t seen them this bad in a few weeks, and I didn’t miss them. Nope, not a bit. In fact, for a second, I was thinking “how did I ever deal with this all day every day?” Then he sat up with monstrous strength unknown to small children, and I remembered that this is why we decided to put him on medication. I couldn’t deal with it all day, every day, and neither could he.

I don’t know what is wrong that caused this. Well, I do know what caused his anger, but for it to get to that level? Who knows. On a ‘normal’ day anymore, finding his Gameboy case on a shelf other than where he put it would cause some annoyance and yelling, but not the “Curse you, Bubba, curse you!” that it caused today. This week, he’s out of school, had some Easter candy (though none since Tuesday) and there’s been a few dietary infractions…but this seems extreme for that. Then again, who knows. Maybe the dyes are still in his system from the Easter candy he ate on Saturday/Sunday. Yep, who am I kidding, I helped bring this on.

Right now, he’s calm…after he exploded, the extreme sadness and sobbing kicked in. The heartwrenching, saddening sobs that make you wish for anything that could stop your little one from feeling that sad. That out of control. That much hate. (And hate it was, based on what he was yelling.) There’s gotta be more that can be done, but we’ve tried behavioral therapy…a lot of it. At one point, we were told that without medication, he may never truly get a grip on it. Now that scares me, though I have hope.

During Autism Awareness month, I truly hope not just the non-verbal, handflapping children are in the spotlight. Not that they shouldn’t be, don’t get me wrong, but people need to see ALL types of autism. They need to see the aggression of little kids with strength of someone twice their size, hear the venom coming out of their mouths, and hear a list of what little is available to help. We can’t let the public think that there’s two kinds of autism: non-verbal, and Asperger’s. They need to realize that there’s a spectrum, and this population of kids like mine exist, in big numbers. They aren’t spoiled. They aren’t products of bad parenting. They aren’t lacking self-control..well, they are, but not of their own or anyone’s choosing.

So now he sits eating a milk-free brownie. My older ds is astounded by his brother’s complete and utter lack of an attention span anymore, and I am in a way, too. He’s never had a long one, but this week, he’s bounced from watching Wonder Pets, spreading Pokemon all over my bedroom, spreading stuffed animals (his friends) all over his room, starting to make a book, playing a round of Guitar Hero, and back to Wonder Pets…all in about 8.4 minutes. How is he not exhausted, but everyone in his wake is?

Life with autism is unpredictable. As the saying goes, “If you’ve seen one person with autism, you’ve seen one person with autism.” They’re all so different. Yet, ironically, they’re each predictable in their ‘issues,’ if you will. I know my son will get up and want his pancakes heated on a plate, stacked, then cut in two directions, then slathered in syrup. He wants his ‘coffee’ (chocolate almond milk) in his white cup with the blue lid, and placed at his chair. From there, on a non-school day, all bets are off, but I know it’ll be a whirlwind of activities, many odd, in a short period of time. I know if we talk quietly so as not to interrupt him, he’ll accuse us of talking about him. I know that if a show he’s Tivo’d is deleted, he’ll scream and yell that he’s going to beat up the stupidhead that did it. I know that when his sister gets a phonecall and he doesn’t, he’ll flip out that he has no friends, and we’ll have to limit his talking about no friends to three minutes, or we could fall asleep to that same discussion ten hours later and he’d barely notice, only to have to start the conversation over, verbatim, if our snoring disrupts. And I know that when he falls asleep at night, finally, and only after his clonidine helps, I’ll cuddle him and hug him and tell him he’s the sweetest boy in the world.


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