Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Autism rant: Bigger, Longer, and Uncut

I really want to break things right now, but I won't. Instead, I'll angry-type it out and then chain-smoke until I calm down. Though, since it's Africa Hot, I don't think I'll smoke much.

D has group this summer. It's not really a camp, nor is it group therapy. It's a group of kids with varying degrees of special needs/mental health issues that get together four hours a week every Tuesday. Last week was his first week. I got called after he had been there for a little over an hour. "D is saying his stomach hurts really badly." He got on the phone and started crying and I knew in that moment he was fine. Physically. He manifests his anxiety in his stomach. (He also likes to hoard poop in his colon but that's another story.) I told the counselor I would be there to talk to him. I knew what the problem was; I had no intention on bringing him home.

Forty minutes later he had agreed to stay and give it a chance. When he got home at 5:30 he had good things to report. He was nervous, and uncomfortable, but it was fun. Okay, great. I'm really proud of you, kid.

Cut to today. He has group at one. The counselor comes to pick him up and immediately he acts like this outing today is  a total surpirse. Which it is not. I told him before STEM camp this morning, I reminded him when I picked him up from STEM, and when we were finished eating lunch. "I don't wanna go." Why? "I just don't." Fair enough, that's a piss-poor reason. Tell me why you don't want to go. "I'm scared and nervous there. I don't know those kids." Thank you. That's an answer. I then explain to him that in life, he is going to be presented with situations that make him nervous, or a bit scared. And that getting as comfortable as he can in situations like that is a skill that can be learned, which is why we want him to go to group. I finally talked him into going and told him that if by 3:30 you still weren't feeling comfortable, or having fun, I would pick him up. He goes off with Z (the counselor) and I go downstaris to play Candy Crush Soda (which is much more fun than the original Candy Crush, by the way).

Twenty-seven minutes later (travel would have taken about ten minutes; they left the house a little after one, so I figure he had been at group for about 20 minutes or so) I get a phone call from a Private Number. I knew who it was.

"Hey, it's T from group." *sigh* What's up? "Well, Daniel's thrown up all over the bathroom. He has no fever and he was feeling fine and participating and..." I cut him off. "Yup. He did that on purpose. He made himself yak. "Well, I was with him, and I didn't see..." No. You wouldn't have. He's good. He can sit there and will himself to vomit when he's super uncomfortable.  "Well, since he did get sick, he can't stay." I know. I'll be there.

I drove to pick him up in a quiet fury. When we arrive I'm met outside by D and T (counselor).  D starts talking about how the reason he threw up was because he was thinking of Bacon, the fetal pig they dissected today at STEM camp (he's doing Vet Med this week). T apologizes and I dismiss it; I understand why he can't stay, and don't blame them one bit. Barf is a no-go. A Go Directly to Jail card, if you will.

We've been home about twenty minutes and I haven't said one word to him. Because I know when I do open my mouth, it will be ugly. Because I'm pissed. And hurt. And sad. And disappointed. And so fucking furious I want to punch things!!!!!

I get it, his brain is wired differently. He has struggles and he is working to overcome them. I get that. I've been with him every fucking step. But what pisses me off is that this is something he needs to be able to do. He needs to know that when he's in a foreign/uncomfortable situation, he can't just make himself barf to get out of it. That's why we go over coping skills. That why we work on being able to identify Anxiety and deal with it before it gets completely out of control. Yet he refuses to use them. When he's at home and getting angry I'll mention several coping techniques he could try and I'm me with, "It doesn't work," to every one I list. He gives up before even trying and I know that's his perfectionist nature--I've tried three different skills, and they don't work. So nothing will work. If I don't try them then they can't not work.

And yes, I know he's young. His brain isn't completely formed and operational, and the parts that are operational are a leetle-bit wonky. I know that he's not happy with himself. I know that he hates the way he acts and is very remorseful after every meltdown. I also know that we are giving him every opportunity to learn and practice skills to help him live a better life. He's always going to struggle--evveryone does--by being on The Spectrum. He probably won't have an easy life. But we're trying to help him learn things that will allow him to live an EASIER life.

"But it's hard." NO SHIT!!!! I've been in and out of therapy for nearly twenty years (good Christ, I'm old) and it is work, and it's hard work, and it's shitty, uncomfortable, scary, annoying, frustrating work. But it works. It helps. It gives self-confidence in areas that it's needed to work on things that aren't the way you would like. And I just can't understand people who don't want the skills to help them have a better life. I mean, I'm lazy. Straight out, lazy. But when given topics by my therapist to work out, to experience an EMDR session that is so physically exhausting it's the equivilant of doing eight hours of manual labor, I'll do it.

Sorry. I'm not bragging or anything. I'm just so frustrated at my son. At the fact that I can't do this all for him. That I can't get into his head and really understand what's going on in there. That sometimes I want to give up.

Asshole. Couldn't even make it in group for an hour. Fucker.

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