Sunday, April 6, 2008

A Spirited Child

We were so excited to be bring home this sweet little baby boy. He was perfect, ten toes, ten fingers; everything about him was just what we’d always hoped for. As a baby he had one ear infection after another which resulted in tubes and eventually speech therapy. It wasn’t that he was sick a lot or that he was a problem baby, he was just different than our daughter, besides I wasn’t supposed to compare him to his sister much less anyone else. A wise late night TV host once said, “It’s an exhibition not a competition” so I try to keep that in mind everyday.
There were so many days that I feel defeated. When he was two I’d jokingly call my husband and ask him to bring home a priest for the exorcism. We have tried a number of different discipline techniques all of which seemed to fail. He’s winning.
If it’s not one issue it’s another. Right now he has a very short temper, I’m never sure what going to cause his frustration, but the outcome will be bad. He will yell, slam doors, spitting and refuse to follow directions. He’s even disappeared before; I found him hiding under a table at church when he got upset over something small. He’s gotten into arguments with his friends, not listened to adults, like his grandparents, it’s all so overwhelming. Then he turns on the charm. He can be the sweetest most loving, affectionate child you’d ever hope to meet, who is this Dr, Jekyll Mr. Hyde living in my house?

Other small issues that stand out are his fear of thunder, his sensitivity to pain (he seems to overreact to getting a scratch), a past episode of grunt-like ticks, and problems in learning to read. He loves video games, but it is impossible to get him to get off. When he does get off, his face is flush and he’s behavior is out of control. Every other day is “…the worst day of my life” because things don’t go exactly his way. He eats constantly; He can eat as much a grown man at dinner and come back thirty minutes later ready for something else. He’s not shy one bit, once he climbed up on a stage and participated in a magic show even though he wasn’t call on stage.
We need help. I love this child with all my heart and soul. What can we do to save him from himself?


Half-Past Kissin' Time said...

Okay, will since you are asking, (and based only on this post, mind you) I'll give you some insights...this is either a genetic or an environmental issue (or a combination). Maybe he is autistic, or maybe your parenting style has created this "issue." Have you consulted with his pediatrician? Whether the issue is or is not autism, your son would probably benefit from a clearly laid out schedule (one that is posted visually) and firm boundaries. If you allow him to wreak havoc on the household following video game removal, he learns that he is "allowed" to do so. Some kids have an increased need for predictibility and consistency. Is he rigid about rules being followed? Does he have O.C.D.ish type tendencies? Does he have trouble picking up on social cues from others? These are all classic signs of autism, and your doctor would be a good place to go for evaluation.

It sounds like you have your hands full. If you are a homeschooler, that doesn't mean you are not entitled to services that your school district provides; perhaps you have access to an autism support person there? I'm sure there is also some type of autism support group in your area as well.

I'll keep you and your family in my prayers...(and thanks for popping in today!)


Rose Calderwood said...

Oh god, they grow up too fast and what you are going through is one of my worst nightmares. Hang in there and thank you for stopping by and commenting on my blog. Love Rose

TOCCO said...

I had a child with a similar temperment. It can be trying and overwhelming. Consistancy and clear expectations are very helpful. Mine is now almost 20 and actually joined the service and made it through basic training. Many times they don't understand themselves why they act the way they do or even what triggers it. Patience... CONSISTANCY! You are in my prayers! Christina

Julie said...

I agree that probably the best starting place is with the pediatrician. At home, follow a schedule, set boundaries/clear expectations, visably chart the day on a poster or something that can be stickered or marked up as things are accomplished. When he loses control, set him in his room or a place where he can't hurt himself or someone else until he is calmer. Just some ideas. Hang in there!

Erin said...
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m~ said...

The idea of autism is frightening, but I certainly don't want to leave any stone unturned. I looked at the symptoms of Asperger's Syndrome:
Common symptoms include:
Problems with social skills: Children with Asperger's syndrome generally have difficulty interacting with others and often are awkward in social situations. They generally do not make friends easily. (he makes friends very easily with both children and adults)
Eccentric or repetitive behaviors: Children with this condition may develop odd, repetitive movements, such as hand wringing or finger twisting. (he's had some repetitive behavior, at different times nothing constant)
Unusual preoccupations or rituals: A child with Asperger's syndrome may develop rituals that he or she refuses to alter, such as getting dressed in a specific order. (no)
Communication difficulties: People with Asperger's syndrome may not make eye contact when speaking with someone. They may have trouble using facial expressions and gestures, and understanding body language. They also tend to have problems understanding language in context. (he was determined not to have a language disorder and does make eye contact)
Limited range of interests: A child with Asperger's syndrome may develop an intense, almost obsessive, interest in a few areas, such as sports schedules, weather or maps. (he had focused on different interest; like Lego's and knights. If he likes a game, like monopoly or sequence he will want to play in often. Some of these phases last for a very long time others just for a day or two. He also had many other interest so I'm not sure what to think about this one)
Coordination problems: The movements of children with Asperger's syndrome may seem clumsy or awkward. (no)
Skilled or talented: Many children with Asperger's syndrome are exceptionally talented or skilled in a particular area, such as music or math. (nothing in particular stands out)
I will speak with his doctor again.

Erin said...
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jayedee said...

i've got some ideas running thru my brain (uh oh) do things like labels in his clothes drive him crazy? clothing that feels fine to you seem itchy or uncomfortable to him?
please know, that even when i'm not commenting, ya'll are in my thoughts and prayers

Karen said...

I would definitely suggest a talk with your pediatrician, possibly even a referral to a neurologist to evaluate and rule out things like Aspberger's, Tourette's, or other things like sensory integration disorder. It's also quite possible that a change in his diet (like no food coloring or other additives or a severe restriction on sugar) can make a huge difference for your sweet boy. You might want to keep a log of what kind of things seem to trigger him and try to notice if he's more easily set off when he hasn't had enough sleep or eats certain foods.

These are just a few thoughts that popped into my head when I saw your post. I have a lot of friends whose kids have various "quirks," and I'm always grateful for the option of homeschooling kids like this - including mine! I'll be praying for you.

Angie said...

You seem to be getting a lot of well-meaning advice here, Mary and that's great.

But don't forget you are his mother and you need to go with your gut. My daughter has similar issues as your son. When I really sat down and thought about how I handle her, her schedule and her differences, I knew what we needed to do. It just isn't always easy to implement such changes, especially when you know you will get resistance. An understatement, I know. Possibly a pediatrician could be helpful, but be wary of labels. Once you start down the 'slippery slope', it's tough to get off.

Go with your gut. What is your gut telling you to do? You are a smart, loving mom and you will do the right thing.

Best of luck.

jayedee said...

marye--i just wanted you to know that i've been praying for you.

love you girlie!

“Be the change you want to see in the world.” mahatma gandhi