What is it about?

The rollercoaster adventures of parenting three kids, dealing with disability and mental health - and discussing disability discrimination and how to tackle it.

Friday, 6 March 2009

One Step Forwards, Two Steps Back.

Remember some weeks ago when Huby and I tried to have this day together?And Beaver went haywire? That was on a Friday. Ever since that day, Beaver plays up on Fridays. He cries in heaving sobs. There is no reasoning with him when he gets like that. I guess it's a full blown anxiety attack. Things get so bad they have to take him out of his classroom and a plethora of special ed teachers and teachers aides have to look after him.

The one thing that calms him down is knowing that mum will come and pick him up. I've done this a few times, and on the days it wasn’t' too bad, insisted he stayed at school, trying desperately not to get into a "if I cry I get a day off" routine. Last week I had a meeting with the special ed teacher and she said she's work out a schedule of what to do when this happens again.

Well, it happened again last Friday, and she wasn’t there, nor was there a programme, nor had the other teachers been briefed as far as I could tell. So I ended up having to take him home. On the way home, it all got too much for me, and I had to pull the car over to have a big cry. Every Friday this malarkey. He still doesn't sleep in his own bed – he goes to sleep in our bed and will only go to sleep if I am lying next to him and read my book. If I don't he'll stay awake until we go to bed, and he sleeps on the sofa ever night (we transfer him there when it's our bedtime). I am tired and worn down.

Aren't things supposed to get a bit easier as kids get older? Boo Boo is getting more and more independent. She now no longer cries when she is dropped off at preschool. She just pulls a sad face, waves bye bye and drives her wheelchair into the courtyard for outside play. I am so proud of her! I have taken on the wildlife work and some disability advocacy, trying to do something useful and carve out a bit more of a life for me. And then there is Beaver nibbling away at the edges. Arghhhh. Combine that with some really bad behaviour recently - hitting, lashing out, punching, and endlessly saying things like "I hate you" and "No, I don't care" – and I am really at my wits end.

Yes, we do see a psychologist with him. He loves it. He sits in her comfy chair, legs casually crossed, and chatters away about all matter of unimportant things, avoiding the real issues and lapping up the attention (I know, he wants me to stay, another thing I'm gradually trying to change). That's fine, but it's $160 a pop!

I guess I just had a bit of a "what about me" moment. I have not worked for 8 years, I have put my PhD on the shelf (well, bin really) and been a full time parent; all with the idea to be there for my kids, to give them lots of love and stability so they will he happy and secure. Yet there is Beaver, giving me the big "na-na-na-na-nah". What else am I supposed to do? Oh man!

Of course, this whole thing is not really about me, it's about the boy.

Thankfully today (Friday again) was a bit better. He seems to manage to stay at school with a timetable the special ed teacher made for him to give him structure and security. I will come a bit early to do a final session of work with him, and praise will fly around as if he has just won the Nobel Prize.

Seana put it well. Beaver is "stuck in a groove" about Fridays now. He can't seem to get out, and by being stuck in it he deepens the groove. This week he started on Thursday evening, getting worried about Friday.

I'm going to have to find a way to get him our of this state. I've cleared my diary for the next few Fridays to be on hand. I'm not going to take him home anymore; I'm going to stay with him at school. And we are going to celebrate every little achievement with one of those old fashioned star charts. There will be little rewards on the way (like crossing the road with me this evening if he gets through today, his current "thing"), and lollies, and the final goal, a Nintendo DS. Yeah. I don't particularly like these things, but I'm willing to pretty much sell my soul here in desperation. He's a tricky customer, that boy!

There. I've written it all down now. Please don't feel bad for me, I've had my moment, I'm ok. It just sometimes helps to have a cry, have a self-centred moment. And it makes me feel better to write about it.

But if you have any ideas on how to deal with anxiety attacks, feel free. I'm needing to learn here….


Sanna said...

Not sure how much of a help I can be but.. Ive had my share of anxiety and panic attacks so I kind of know what he's going through. 2 things that helped me were; safety and breathing. It might help with his attacks if he has some kind of safe item at school with him(toy, blanket, piece of clothing) and when he starts having an anxiety attack the teacher could take him sowhere quiet with his safety item and stay with him there, talking with him saying how its just a normal day and mum will come pick him up after school just like every other day, doing breathing exercises.

Glee said...

g'day Heike,

So you are having some help come to be with you. Might take the pressure off you and give you a bit of space. I have started "following" Sanna's blog which will be interesting.

Hugs to you Heike


Dianne said...

I suffered from anxiety during my childhood. It was awful. Worse still that no-one ever tackled it head on. Different times.

I think your idea to stay with him rather than leave with him is a great step. It hopefully will let him see that Fridays at school are safe. It'll then just be the challenge of how to leave him again BUT it's promising that the other four days are OK. That suggests he's definitely got it in himself to deal with this.

I'm glad you got to have a good cry. I hope you won't need to have another and that you'll have your Fridays back again soon xox

Heike said...

Grammacello left a dounble post, in the second one she uses Beavers's real name so i've decided to just post her first part (in essence the same as in the second) here only,

"My stepson has social anxiety disorder but was diagnosed as an adult
We have always suspected somesuch-he also, it turns out, is severely ADD-again, even though we had him tested as a youngster it was not properly picked up- now he is 28 and struggling a lot- to finish school and have any sort of normal life.

It is just a hunch but maybe Beaver's school placement is not working as well as it might be- BooBoo is in a place specifically catering to her needs (and is also a girl so possibly more resiliant)but Beaver's school has already dropped the ball by having no plan in place when they said they would, making things worse.
Maybe the school itself is not working out as well as it should be, at this point, even if it was earlier....
School is a BIG part of these(all) kids lives. Just thinking aloud- hope you don't mind."

Shannon said...

Oh Friend,
I had a good cry on the way to Emergency with Ben this week (he's OK). Sometimes it is just too much to handle it all and keep back the tears.
I see a bit of this behavior in Ben already and he is just 6. I will be learning from you and Beaver.

LEE said...

hi heike, oh...memories....i am now 10 years down the track with Justin - 11 in may. the good news is that there is an end in sight, they do grow out of issues although i am still waiting for Justin to let go of some...having 2 married children i can tell you that it all ends way too soon and it is ends up a faint memory. i got to the stage where i would only concentrate on the good things of the day, refusing to dwell on the bad - but you know all that already, for me it was just a matter of CHOOSING it.

Grammacello said...

OOPs,did I? I am sorry, I always think of Beaver as his actual name since that is my grandson's name too, as I've mentioned.
I guess I need my two week March break, which just started.Sorry about that!