Where a dad of two great kids (one on the autism spectrum) muses about life.
Friday, April 18, 2008
The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly
The film, "The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly" is a complex yet wonderful western where sometimes crime does pay, and good goes unrewarded. Life has certainly been complex around our house for the last month, but unfortunately it's been far from wonderful. And the good has been far outweighed by the bad and the ugly lately.
Buddy Boy started out this year having the best year he's had so far. He loved school, thrived with being included, identified with his classmates, and seemed to really blossom. Sure there were some minor rough spots, but overall it was shaping up to be a stellar year.
Oh how quickly things can change. If things don't turn around very quickly, he'll be expelled from his school within a week or so, and I won't really blame them.
But let's get back to the good. Buddy Boy made his First Communion the Sunday after Easter. He was having some anxiety and a few outbursts in school running up to that day, but we figured it was related to the upcoming ceremony. Other than a short crying jag in the procession coming into the church, he did a great job. I was really proud of him.
About a week and a half after that, he bit his teacher. He hasn't lashed out like that in over a year. His teachers this year have been great. They believe in him, see the positive, and support him as well as just about anyone. But Buddy Boy got upset about something, and just lost it. The teacher had to go to the Emergency Room. Two years ago he would have been immediately suspended. Liz took him home when he couldn't be consoled at the school, but not only wasn't he suspended, we never received any official action taken at all by the school.
The subsequent 3 weeks or so have been escalating hell. Promising him grand rewards has no effect, and neither does confiscating his beloved stuffed dinosaurs. Buddy Boy has gotten violent with Liz at home, and she is covered with bruises. The police have been called 3 or 4 times by Liz when Buddy Boy has bolted from the house and she couldn't find him. Once he was found by the police running thru the underbrush in a park about a half mile from our house. His face was all scratched up from that.
We've had an emergency appointment with his psychiatrist, and took him off one of his meds (Prozac-which had in the past seemed to help with anxiety), which he felt may have been causing an idiosyncratic reaction. Two days later he erupted in class when he found out that after the chicks hatch from the eggs they're incubating in class, the chicks have to go back to the farm. He was yelling, swearing at the teachers, spitting at them, telling the teachers he was going to kill them, and for a grand finale dropped his drawers and peed all over the classroom. Liz kept him home the next day, which was yesterday.
Liz, meanwhile, is at the end of her rope. She's stressed to the max, and cries inconsolably at night. When she gets stressed she pushes people away, so it's been hard for me to try to get her back from the edge. She doesn't feel like she can home school Buddy Boy. She says that it will suck every last bit of energy out of her, and that she will not survive. I try to point out how perhaps whatever is bothering him will settle down if he gets out of school, but she is not in any kind of receptive mood right now.
Buddy Boy, for his part, is not willing or able to talk about what's bugging him. He's still perfectly verbal overall, and just says that he gets angry, and that it's all our fault. But he's adamant that he wants to stay in his school. I really don't think he's trying to get kicked out.
I have been largely protected, as I get to go to work. I've cut back on all non-urgent things so I can be home as much as possible, and have tried to manage things on the weekends, but it's not enough for Liz to rebound. She feels lost, and out of options. I have no idea where Buddy Boy will go to school if he gets kicked out of his present placement. And if he does, we'll also have to find another school for Sweet Pea. Sweet Pea has been allowed to attend the same school as Buddy Boy, which is not our home school. The school is overcrowded, and they won't let her stay if Buddy Boy leaves. We won't put her back in her home school, where the Wicked Witch of the West is the prinicipal (she's the one we spent thousands of dollars and over a year fighting with).
I keep it together because we are in the middle of a crisis, but I feel lost, alone, and frustrated as all get out. We've gone from having our best year yet, to being back at square one. I'm fairly sure that we've used up all the good will that we're going to get from the school. Liz volunteers there, which I'm sure has helped. But I know that they've got to be near their limit of tolerance. Buddy Boy went back to school today and made it thru the day without any serious incident. His regular teacher wasn't there. The substitute basically let them watch movies and play games today. Liz got to hear the retelling by his classmates of Buddy Boy's meltdown, over and over.
That's about it for now. All prayers will be gladly accepted.
Me- Joe, husband of a great wife, and dad to two great kids, who were both adopted at birth.
Liz- My ever understanding wife, who manages to wear many hats (mom, advocate, therapist, teacher) for our kids.
Buddy Boy- Born in 2000. Funny, intelligent, inventive, and autistic. Loves machines.
Sweet Pea- Born in 2002. Typical little sister. Competitive, outgoing, and smart. Loves anything pink.